Book Review: CSS the missing manual 2nd Edition

CSS the missing manual 2nd Edition


David Sawyer McFarland

My Rating

star star star star

Rated highly on Amazon and lauded on a number of web design forums, this was the stand out book for beginning to learn CSS. Even though I had created designs using CSS and learnt little bits here and there, I still definitely rate the efficacy of this book. If you only read this opening paragraph then take my word – this book lives up to the hype.

Initial chapters focus on not just CSS but the web and associated technologies like HTML and its various incarnations. Teaching this to beginner in my view is an excellent decision. Even if you have an understanding, it still may fill in a few gaps in your knowledge.

Once you get past the initial theory, the rest of the book has a consistency, whereby each chapter starts with the theoretical aspect of the topic, and then concludes with some tutorials you need to work on to solidify the knowledge and become familiar with applying the skills the chapter has focused on.

The tutorials are to be used with code downloads which are excellently constructed. They are all based on a Cosmo Farmer website which has something to do with growing lawns in urban dwellings. Made me laugh, made me remember and helped me to learn, so I cannot criticise.

David Sawyer McFarland, the author of the book, gives insights into best practices about how to use CSS. On top of the technical skills taught, I always like to adjust my approach to that of seasoned professionals. Even if their style doesn’t eventually suit mine, at least I can compare my way of doing things to an expert and make maybe minor adjustments.

As it happens, with CSS, the best practices are not arbitrary. Naming conventions, file locations and use of properties can only be performed optimally in one way. So being taught them in this book should be appreciated.

The many topics in the book do cover all the basics, from descendant selectors to fonts to borders. This book does a great job in my opinion of covering all the necessary skills to enable the reader to provide the reader with the skills needed to use CSS effectively.

If you read this book you will be able to target specific elements on the page with styles, you will easily be able to create float and liquid layouts, you will make light work of positioning images and other elements. Adding colour to border, setting relative sizes, creating navigation areas – all the essential styling techniques you will be capable of.

One thing you won’t learn is rounded corners. But I supposed that’s not a beginner’s topic. To atone for this, the book does focus on browser-specific issues and goes all the way in helping you to ensure your design will work in all browsers.

I’m happy to recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn CSS in a structured way with examples and tutorials to get stuck into.

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