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CSS Cookbook
By: bluephoenix
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    2004-10-17

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    CSS Cookbook
    By: Christopher Schmitt
    Published by O'Reilly

    Sometimes it can be a real bear of a time trying to write cross browser/platform cascading style sheets (CSS) for a site, so I find it very fitting the cover animal for Christopher Schmitt's CSS Cookbook published by O'Reilly is Usrsus arctos horribilis--a grizzly bear!

    With CSS Cookbook, Schmitt offers over 85 quick solutions to common CSS problems. The book is divided into 10 different chapters, each dealing separately with different aspects of design. The sections are divided up as: web typography, page elements, links and navigation, lists, forms, tables, page layouts, printing, various hacks and workarounds, and designing with CSS.

    Each section follows O'Reilly's "cookbook format" first stating the problem, then providing the solution and finally providing a discussion with valuable insight to adapt the solutions to other situations.

    Obviously the sections that cover topics where my design skills are the weakest are of the greatest value to me, but other recipes are useful too. Some recipes gave me ideas to try, such as using CSS to create a dynamic splash screen (recipe 2.10) and "image based rollovers" using the background-position property (recipe 3.10).

    It was also nice to see a few tricks I had worked out myself finally in front of me in print, such as setting a full-bleed effect to override default white space properties of other elements (recipe 2.1). Setting * {margin: 0; padding: 0;} and then forcing myself to specify the properties for ensuing elements has gone a long way in helping me to create cross compatible designs.

    ... And I don't even want to think about how much frustration and time I could have saved if I had their recipe for creating a flexible multicolumn page layout with floats (recipe 7.5)!

    The book isn't a primer on CSS, but rather a companion to O'Reilly's main CSS book, Cascading Style Sheets: The Definitive Guide. Both books would undoubtedly make an indispensable reference pair together on any web designer's bookshelf, but the convenience of having practical examples and solutions at your fingertips makes CSS Cookbook an excellent stand-alone reference as well.


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