The Art and Science of CSS (Book review)

The Art & Science of CSS is not a very thick book, and it doesn't have to be since it is not a reference book on CSS. It is a rather quick read, but it contains useful and practical tips on how to create certain design elements with CSS. These are tips that you can adapt and use in your own projects.

Five authors have contributed to this book: Cameron Adams, Jina Bolton, David Johnson, Steve Smith, and Jonathan Snook. Bolton, Johnson, and Snook have written one chapter each, while Steve Smith and Cameron Adams have both written two chapters. It's an author line-up that raises expectations.

There's not a lot to say about the general structure of the book. There is no introduction to CSS or HTML in here. Instead you jump right in and get working on the examples. During the course of the seven chapters you will find new or different ways of styling, creating, or manipulating headings, images, backgrounds, navigation, forms, rounded corners, and tables. Those are the main topics of each chapter, but in each chapter you will pick up other tips as well.

So, what do I think of this book after reading it? Well, it's not bad. Plenty of good tips and useful techniques are described in it. It's not perfect either. I guess it's partly down to personal preference, but I am not too fond of books that have multiple authors unless there is one main editor that makes sure all chapters are at least reasonably similar in style. I can't quite put it into words, but to some extent the different styles distract me from the actual content.

Apart from the difference in writing style between the authors, there is also the difference in coding practices for both CSS and HTML. It's ok for someone who is experienced and can see that the differences are often just personal preferences, but this book is meant for people who aren't CSS or HTML experts. I can easily imagine how confusing it is to see different approaches to font sizing in different chapters of the same book, with no explanation of why. I think consistency would have been good here.

With that in mind, reading The Art & Science of CSS will teach you how to use CSS to accomplish a number of useful design tasks, so I think it's worth its price unless you already know most of what there is to know about CSS.

As with all SitePoint books, there are sample chapters you can download to find out if the book is right for you.

The Art & Science of CSS
Authors: Cameron Adams, Jina Bolton, David Johnson, Steve Smith, Jonathan Snook
ISBN-10: 0975841971
ISBN-13: 978-0975841976

Posted on January 29, 2008 in Reviews, CSS