Review: Beginning CSS Web Development

I get asked quite often which book I'd recommend for learning about CSS and up until now I've been recommending CSS Mastery by Andy Budd, et al. However, after reading Simon Collison's latest, Beginning CSS Web Development, I think I have a new default.

The book is — as it described — intended for those looking to go from novice to professional. It is split into two parts with the first explaining the basics and covering some of the main elements that will be styled in a CSS-based layout. The second part focuses on entire layouts along with some general follow-up topics like accessibility and common development pitfalls. There's even a handy CSS property reference at the end of the book.

The first couple chapters are a little slow going and I was dissappointed that Simon didn't go into more detail on some things (like all the shorthand variations) and possibly too much on others (like his use of multiple folders for managing multiple CSS files). It's hard to fault him on either, though, as this book is a reflection of his personal development style and really is meant to get your feet wet rather than be an exhaustive reference.

However, once the basics are explained, the pacing of the book is superb. The writing is humourous and makes it fun to read through what most would consider a rather dull subject.

For the more seasoned CSS developer, there won't be much new and you're probably best to stick with something like CSS Mastery. If you're a novice (or know somebody who is) looking to take your knowledge to the next level then I highly recommend this book.

Published November 15, 2006
Categorized as Book Reviews
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Jeff Croft said on November 14, 2006

I second the motion. Simon's book is wonderful.

Budi Sutria said on November 15, 2006

cool ...

Leezig said on November 15, 2006

There's an informative and practical chapter on the pros and cons of form styling using 3 different methods + Simon gets a gold star from me for including Keith Moon in his supergroup "The Dead Goods"...

Nate K said on November 15, 2006

I thought the book was great. It flowed well from beginning to end, and gave the reader an in-depth understanding of CSS. Yes, he could have gone deeper with different subjects - but I think for the audience it was perfect. I think CSS Mastery and Bulletproof Web Design are two books that handle the deeper, more advanced techniques.

Overall, the book was great, and well worth the price of admission.

Now im just waiting for Jeff's book to come out....

Johan said on November 15, 2006

Snook. we dig my review of the book.

As I said in my review,it is intended:

Who should get this book?

For starters, someone who knows absolutely nothing about developing websites with CSS. Further, I would personally recommend this book for the following groups of people:

All graphic designers still struggling with either tables and probably creating web designs in general with CSS.

People that have fooled around with CSS - read amateurs and still have a lot of practical questions. It can be frustrated sometimes to make a CSS layout work - does that ring a bell to anyone?

People that wonder what is the missing glue between best CSS practices and good looking (yeah styled!), easy to maintain web pages.

Colly said on November 15, 2006

Thanks everyone. It is so difficult to aim for a specific end user with books like this, and I agree that it is quite a personal view of building websites with CSS in the real world - my world.

I'm pleased that most people can see that it is a beginner's book (hence the title) yet can appreciate my deep desire to cut loose in certain places, and also attempt to cover everything!

Florian said on November 16, 2006

I have both books and they are both great.

Steve said on January 07, 2007

I have read Beginning CSS Web Development and I am currently reading CSS Mastery, both at the suggestion of Snook.

The comments here are in-line with my view of the book, a good resource for beginners that brings you to that next level. Instead of just presenting the details, Collison takes you through the thought process of designing with CSS. The chapter on text formatting was a welcome addition, it went over a lot of the things that aren't talked about often but really make the difference in how readable a design is.

Yes, it skims over a lot of the advanced details; however, for what it lacks in details, it forms a very nice foundation on which to build.

Good recommendation, Snook.

Sorry, comments are closed for this post. If you have any further questions or comments, feel free to send them to me directly.