Pro CSS Techniques (Book review)

Once you've learned the basics of CSS you need some help to advance your skills to the next level. That's what the authors of this book – Jeff Croft, Ian Lloyd, and Dan Rubin – intend to do by sharing solid, practical techniques that you can use in real, professional Web projects. And they do it well.

The book starts with a quick recap of why modern, well-structured markup is important and what CSS is, and then moves on to cover CSS syntax, specificity, the cascade, browsers, CSS management, plus a chapter on hacks and workarounds. After that the actual techniques promised in the title start appearing.

The techniques cover areas such as CSS layouts, typography, and examples of how you can style tables, lists, and forms (form layout, not form controls), and how to use CSS to control what your site will look like when it is printed. Everything is explained in a clear and structured way, making the book easy to read.

Since it is so well-structured, and thanks to the CSS reference, the CSS specificity chart, and the Browser grading chart provided in the appendixes, I think this book actually will work quite well as a reference guide, though obviously not as complete and detailed as Eric Meyer's CSS: The Definitive Guide.

All in all, this is a very solid book. Despite that I do think it could have been even better. First of all, in the book's introduction the authors state that the book is not intended to be an introduction to CSS. Well, perhaps it isn't the very first book to pick up if you are completely new to CSS, but before reading it I thought it would contain slightly more advanced CSS techniques.

Second, I don't know why the authors felt the need to explicitly state that the book is not "a preachy bible for web standards". I didn't find anything in the book that goes against best practices and the spirit of Web standards, so I think that part of the introduction would have been better left out. Just my opinion, of course.

The third nitpick I have is the lack of information about who wrote what. This is a multi-author book, after all, so stating at the beginning of each chapter who wrote it, like in Blog Design Solutions, would have saved the brain cycles I spent on trying to figure out who wrote the part I was reading.

Don't get me wrong–this is a very well-written and solid book, but in my opinion the "Pro" in its name is slightly misleading. "Intermediate CSS Techniques" would have been a more appropriate name. Nevertheless, unless you're already a pro CSS designer, Pro CSS Techniques is well worth its place in your pile of Web books.

Details for Pro CSS Techniques
Authors: Jeff Croft, Ian Lloyd, Dan Rubin
ISBN: 159059732X

Posted on March 26, 2007 in Reviews, CSS