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on 20 March 2017
This isn't a textbook for CSS, it's more a collection of tips and advice. You need a basic understanding of CSS, but this book is useful in explaining how to work with the rather arcane CSS rules to achieve what you want. It barely touches on CSS 3. There are some specific features of CSS3 which make earlier complicated tricks redundant (like box-sizing: border-box), but this book is still relevant to what it covers. If you want to support users with older browsers we are still in a phase where CSS3 support is variable, and needs to be used with caution. Second-hand copies of this book are still available very cheaply and probably worth picking up.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 25 February 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Eric Meyer is a true CSS expert; he has worked on CSS at the W3C and currently runs the busy css-discuss discussion list; he is also a good writer with a sense of humour, and it was his O'Reilly book CSS: The Definitive Guide that made sense of CSS for me for the first time ten years back. CSS has changed a lot since then, so I was keen to read this new title.

The problem with CSS is that it can be puzzling and counter-intuitive; there is a lot to get your head around, which makes a book like this really useful if you need to understand it - and if you do web design and layout, you do need to understand it. There is also the tricky issue of cross-browser compatibility, and I like the way Meyer is pragmatic and realistic in his advice.

That said, this title is NOT an introduction to CSS, nor is it a complete guide. The introduction makes it clear:

"This book contains close to 100 tips, techniques, tools, and tricks for making great Web sites using CSS. Each of them is meant to stand on its own: you can flip to any random page and just read what you find there."

In other words, this should not be your first book on CSS unless you are already familiar with it, but is a good second or third book on the subject.

Smashing CSS is in three sections. The first is called Fundamentals and kicks off with a survey of browser-based CSS tools. It really gets going with the second chapter on CSS selectors: a must read.

The second section is called Essentials, and begins with a chapter of tips with good stuff on element visibility and list designs, followed by another must-read chapter on layouts.Chapter 5 is on effects, including the inevitable tip on rounded corners (but better done than most), as well has how to make tabs, float text round curves, and more.

The third section is called Cutting Edge and has a chapter on tables and graphs, followed by one on techniques you can use in the near future, such as alpha transparency and 2D transforms. Actually you can use these techniques now, if you are willing to accept that only recent browsers will be supported.

I am a big Eric Meyer fan and enjoyed the book, though like any collection of tips and techniques, there is no guarantee that it will solve your particular problem. I treated it as a series of expert sessions, and learnt as much from the little asides and comments as from the core content.

It is also worth noting that Meyer is not a designer and his expertise is on the theory and mechanics of CSS rather than making web pages look fantastic. If you need design examples, look elsewhere.

The book is illustrated in colour throughout and printed on high quality semi-glossy paper; I found the pages a bit too shiny, to be honest, but that is nit-picking.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 24 March 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a smashing book and is a joy to read and look through with so much thought placed on the design and layout. There are 285 pages (not large by computing book standards) which are easy on the eye, packed with examples of coding and with plenty of colour pictures and text. Just great to look through.

I'm a CSS beginner (I'm still on the basics of HTML) so I think this book is too advanced for me at the moment. However, this one is very easy to read and well ordered so I think when I get to the stage where I need CSS, I will be able to get what I want from this book.

The book is organised into 3 parts:

1) Fundamentals
2) Essentials
3) Cutting Edge

So if you're a beginner, you need to start from part 1. For someone who already understands CSS, they would read from part 2. So, in that respect, the information has been very well presented and logical.

That said, I still believe this book is better aimed at someone who already knows a little CSS already because part 1 is really an overview of the fundamental information you need and not in-depth. So perhaps start with a complete step-by-step beginner CSS book and then move on to this one. I really liked it.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This book does what it says on the cover. It does have Professional Techniques for modern layouts and if you use them, your web pages will have a modern DIV layout that will work well with all major browsers. The problem is that this is actually only about 10 lines of CSS. The section covering layouts pads this out over a dozen or so pages but there really is only so much that can be said on the subject.

The rest of the book covers various techniques to make your pages look better with tricks and tips. The major tip that everybody wants is rounded corners and here the book fails. The solution offered works with all modern browsers - EXCEPT Internet Explorer. Ok, people might not like to admit it but there are a lot of IE users out there and the challenge for modern CSS design is to make it work with all browsers, mobile ones included.

As other reviewers have rightly said, this is not a how to guide for beginning CSS. It is aimed at the intermediate to advanced level but I would suggest that time be better spent reading on the web rather than this book.

It is well presented and printed however and the examples do work.
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VINE VOICEon 21 March 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I really am keen to learn CSS, and I thought I knew a bit before I picked up this book.

I was wrong.

This book takes your knowledge to a new hieght, and really goes in to it- deeply. A great resource and a book which I will be going back to time and time again.

Have to only give it 4 stars due to the level of knowledge required to start it off- it really does start off hitting the ground running.
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on 21 April 2011
I first came across Eric Meyer when I was learning CSS a few years back. His CSS bible published by O'Reilly gave me a thorough yet somewhat dry understanding about the ins and outs of CSS. Then I promptly forgot half of what I learned and concentrated on what I remembered.

Since then, my CSS has got a lot snappier, and I can now knock out layout in my head. I bought this book though, firstly because it never hurts to catch up with the latest (and not-so-latest) trends, but also because I respected Eric as an author and I wanted to see what else he had up his sleeves.

The book covered a lot of old ground, however, it was covered more succinctly. Basically, it was a refresher course for what I already knew. Surprisingly, there were a fair few things I had forgotten about, and being presented with a potted summary let me fill those whole with ease. This is much better than rereading the weighty tome that was his original CSS bible.

There was some new stuff, but most of it you can pick up if you keep an eye on the List Apart website. That website is a bit of an industry must-bookmark anyway, so if you take one thing away from this review, take that.

I won't give this book five stars, because there was no "killer technique" that I hadn't already come across. However, if you know a bit about CSS and are looking for a go-to book which contains all the nuggets you really need to know, then look no further.
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on 25 December 2010
This is a good book to read if you already have a basic understanding of how to use CSS to layout web pages. You should at least know how to link to external style sheets and be able to change a range of elements' properties. These basics are not covered in the book. If you are looking to develop an understanding of specificity, IDs vs classes, CSS grids and layouts, floats, styling child elements... then this is for you. If you have never heard of these terms, then I'd suggest you look for something more basic.

The book itself is very appropriately printed in full colour, as you really need colour in order to test and understand how CSS styles work. Explanations are clear and concise with adequate examples of CSS code with corresponding images of the browser output. You could use this book as a reference book to address specific issues as they become relevant to you.

I chose this book because Eric Meyer is (as it says on the back cover) an "internationally recognised expert on html, css and web standards" - which is certainly true. My reasoning is that he is in a position to provide an overview of many of the core CSS design issues that a novice web designer has to understand. I have not been disappointed.

In summary, I'd say that the book achieves its aims at developing an "advanced beginner to intermediate" user's knowledge and understanding of CSS.
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on 19 December 2011
Eric Meyer is a propeller head: which is immediately apparent the moment you start flicking through the pages. There's nothing wrong with that and I wouldn't mind being a bit of a propeller head myself. The trouble is it's not much help to ordinary people unless you're on the same wavelength. Which most people are not going to be. He's also been very selfish and inconsiderate. He hasn't actually considered just who is going to read the book, and how they're going to benefit from it. As an example, anybody who's any kind of a web designer or developer is probably going to have some idea of just what Firebug is and just how useful it can be. We don't need to be told about its existence, as that much knowledge will probably already be in our possession. What would be useful is a detailed and understandable description of exactly how Firebug works from somebody who knows it inside-out. He makes no attempt whatsoever of explaining how Firebug works and just fobs us off with the explanation that we can find more useful information about Firebug on the web. Well what did we buy the book for then? If it's too much trouble, why bother mentioning it in the first place.

The book is full of short sharp descriptions of potentially useful information that could surely benefit from Eric just making some kind of effort to explain it in more detail. Instead what we get is - "It's too much trouble, so go figure for yourself." Which personally I don't find particularly helpful. Thanks but no thanks Eric, I think I'll pass. If you can't be bothered then neither can I. We may be plebs as far as you're concerned, but we're the ones who part with our hard-earned to buy your books and we deserve much better consideration.
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VINE VOICEon 29 March 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is not a book for beginners. You need to have taken a dip into the world of web design, in particular the use of CSS, before reading. There are casual references to people like Jakob Neilson, which aren't essential to the understanding of the text, but might alienate the novice. If you are in the know, these references humanise the text and make the book more enjoyable.

Smashing CSS is aimed at those who know about the power of 'specificity' when using CSS, but don't yet know how this specificity is determined. Equally, if you aware of what print styles are, but don't know how to implement them, this book will show you the way.

There's never any doubt Meyer is fantastically knowledgeable. He credits the reader with intelligence, expecting you to keep up with little hand holding. In the first chapter he explores the tools available for web design. I have been using Firebug, but hadn't explored the Web Developer Toolbar. Limited space available means Meyer can only give the reader a flavour of what these tools can do. On the other hand, his brief overview of the subject has encouraged me to take the next step on my own.

The most exciting chapter is Effects, which taught me how to create CSS Pop-Ups and Pre-CSS3 Rounded Corners. The same chapter expanded my consciousness when it outlined the concepts of CSS Parallax and Ragged Floats.

Smashing CSS is not designed to be read from start to finish, though this is the way I approached it to get an overview of what the book contained. Having finished it, it will remain on my book shelf for easy reference.

If you are interested in a book for beginners I would recommend Build Your Own Website The Right Way Using HTML & CSS 2nd Edition by Ian Lloyd. If you have already grasped the basics, then Smashing CSS will help you take the next step on your journey.
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on 12 March 2013
It's like this book walks through an arbitrary list of CSS foibles rather than trying to teach from scratch.
I am not sure who ( or more likely, 'whose coffee table') this book is really aimed at. It's certainly not a beginners text, since it does not really go into the details. It seems to adopt a chatty approach, but the reader is almost assumed to have come across all the topics discussed already.. so what's the point ?

Additionally I really think some of the stuff he goes on about is frankly redundant or 'head in the sand' thinking. Surely there are better ways to create charts than hacking table layouts in CSS ? Surely no-one cares about trying to mimic transparency effects in 2013 ? In short there is a lot of clever stuff that is simply too esoteric to be worth knowing about before you need to google it, or worse, is simply outdated. I was not really impressed by the example code either.. not much of it and not very well organised.

So, to try to sum it up, there are certainly some interesting 'conversation points' if you are obsessed with CSS and the book 'looks nice' The book offers insight from a seasoned CSS professional into things that are worth knowing about( more so if you are intent on solving the worlds problems using CSS !)

If however the reader wants a practical, hands on CSS book that actually teaches relevant CSS he should look elsewhere. I would recommend "Pro HTML5 and CSS3 Design Patterns ", which contains example code that is well thought out and useful and will likely be a more rewarding reading experience.

Once you get the hang of using firebug, confusing descriptions ( such as are contained in both these books) become irrelevant and the mystery of CSS starts to vanish. I found I was able to see what all the values actually do by tweaking them in the browser.
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