Beginning CSS Web Development (Book review)

Looking for a book that will bring your level of CSS knowledge from newbie to intermediate or advanced? This is it. I would actually say that the title is slightly misleading as there is plenty of good stuff in the book for people who would never consider themselves CSS beginners. Only those who really know CSS will read this book without learning something.

The book's author, Simon Collison, has published many helpful articles on CSS and other web design and development stuff on his personal website, CollyLogic. In this book he shares his experiences from working with the Web in the hopes that it will help readers avoid some of the confusion and frustration that is often associated with learning CSS (or anything new, for that matter).

I think Simon does an excellent job of that by starting with the concepts of CSS in the first part of the book. Lists, links, text, font choices, colours, forms, tables - all the basics are explained. Don't expect a lot of boring theory though, since practical examples are used to explain everything.

With the foundation in place, part two explains more advanced topics such as a number of different CSS layout techniques, tips and tricks, and troubleshooting. The book's final chapter is a case study that makes use of a lot of the concepts and techniques explained earlier in the book. There's also a handy CSS reference that's worth photocopying and keeping next to your keyboard.

Accessibility and usability are kept in mind throughout the book, which is really great considering how easy it is for people to go overboard with background images and whatnot when they start learning CSS.

There are some areas where I don't fully agree on the methods Simon has chosen to describe. One example is the section on form layout. Simon mentions three options for laying out forms: tables, paragraphs, and definition lists. Out of those options, I would only consider using paragraphs, but I wouldn't call a label + form control combo a paragraph. My personal preference is to use fieldset and div elements. But that's just what it is - my personal preference. There is almost always more than one correct way of doing things when it comes to HTML + CSS.

But hey, don't let that minor criticism from me put you off. This is definitely a great book that deserves to be on your desk.

Beginning CSS Web Development
Author: Simon Collison
ISBN: 1590596897

Posted on November 30, 2006 in Reviews, CSS