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Keywords: Web design, web standards, XHTML, CSS, XForms, XLink
Title: Web Standards Design Guide
Author: Kevin Ruse
Publisher: Charles River Media
Media: Book, CD
Verdict: Doesn't fully engage the reader
This has been a hard book to review. Not because the content is incredibly difficult, nor because the writing is so awful that it's hard to wade through, it's not even because the subject matter is inherently uninteresting. The subject of web design standards won't set many hearts aflutter, but for web developers it's a subject of growing importance. The problem with this book, however, is that it's just not very engaging.
Part of the problem is that the author seems to take forever to get to the point. For example the first part of the book - consisting of two chapters - is all about defining what standards are. The discussion veers in all sorts of directions, from William Sellers and the standardisation of screws to looking at different types of standards to standards bodies to… Similarly, when the book moves on to look at XHTML, one of the web standards that the book rightly champions, we get a full history lesson on how HTML emerged and gradually morphed into HTML.
When the topic of browser support comes up we get treated to a history lesson there as well, along with facts and figures about the growth of the internet. This is interesting enough but the book is supposed to be about current web standards and how to use them in web development.
In addition to XHTML, the other standards that the book covers are CSS 2.0, XForms 1.0, XLink 1.0 and the web accessibility guidelines 1.0. Each of these is covered in some detail, with one or two tutorials for each. These tutorials cover the basics of each of the standards but don't go into incredible depth.
The book does score more when it comes to reference material. There can be no faulting the level of technical detail, from levels of CSS support in browsers to DOCTYPE switching to stages and checkpoints in accessibility.
If this book had been plain awful it would have been easier to review, but the book isn't that. It suffers from being slightly unfocused, contains a lot of extraneous material and could have done with being a little more concise.