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Keywords: Web development, CSS, XHTML
Title: CSS Web Site Design
Author: Eric Meyer
Publisher: Peachpit Press
Media: Book, CD
Level: Introductory - though some knowledge of XHTML would be useful
Verdict: Highly recommended for the CSS beginner
Eric Meyer is already something of a CSS guru, with a slew of highly regarded books to his name, including CSS: The Definitive Guide, reviewed previously here on TechBookReport. Now, to add to his list of titles is CSS Web Site Design - Hands On Training. As suggested by the subtitle, this is a book with a decidedly practical focus and is pitched at the CSS beginner who has at least some basic knowledge of web page design using XHTML.
The book is structured around a single worked example that is worked on through successive chapters and topics, refining the design, meeting different challenges head on and illustrating how best to make use of standard compliant CSS 2.0. As well as learning the basics of CSS selectors, inheritance and cascading, the book provides a lot of useful advance on the design and layout of the site. Tables, floating elements, navigation, colours, backgrounds and more are all explored in some detail.
It's not just the basics that get an airing. There is a whole chapter on styling for print, for example, with examples and exercises for the reader to follow along with. It's this emphasis on doing rather than just passively reading that adds a lot of value to the book. The accompanying CD includes all of the sample pages and style sheets necessary to work through the 60 or so exercises that make up the bulk of the book. The CD also includes a series of Quick Time movies though to be honest they're not as useful as working through the book and trying out the exercises.
Special mention has to be made of the design of the book. It's well structured, with excellent use of colour, layout and typography. The screen shots are always clear and do well to illustrate the text.
In terms of tools, while there's mention of BBEdit (particularly), StyleMaster, TopStyle and Dreamweaver, on the whole Meyer remains agnostic as to tools. The same goes for browser, mention is made of Internet Explorer, Firefox and other browsers, but it's not the focus of the book to target one platform as against another. In the end the only software required is a basic text editor and a browser to view the resulting pages.
While it's not a book aimed at those with prior CSS experience, those who've only dabbled will still find it a useful learning resource. For those who've no previous CSS experience this is a great place to start. This is highly recommended for beginners.