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Web Standards Solutions: The Markup and Style Handbook
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    2005-08-24

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    Web Standards Solutions: The Markup and Style Handbook
    By: Dan Cederholm
    Published by Apress

    There are three ways to go with a CSS book. The Cookbook: thick as a phonebook and likely to show so many examples—except the one you need. The Theoretical Essay: long, dry, detailed and suitable for programmers and hardcore designers. The Photo Album: all of these pretty glossy examples of what CSS can do nothing practical for you.

    By : Mike DeWolfe

    When you look at the title of "Web Standards Solutions: The Markup Style Handbook," you think: great... a theory book. Instead, it's a nice combo of cookbook examples dissected to almost the point of theory. Because the book is in black and white, it doesn't fall into the temptation of pages that show and don't tell.

    "Web Standards" covers the frequently used CSS implementations: headings, forms, lists, and tables. It shows off how to dress up these tags and use styles in uncommon ways (like a horizontal list and CSS based rollovers).

    Chapter 9, "Minimizing Markup" gets past the cookbook elements and digs into optimization. If all of your CSS building came from the likes of Dreamweaver, your CSS style sheet would be as long as War and Peace. "Minimizing Markup" talks about when

    tags will improve the design and when they are unnecessary.

    Chapter 10, "Applying CSS" continues on with optimization. It shows how to combine CSS styles sheets; as well as how to use CSS inclusion techniques to give "hi-fi" and "lo-fi" results for different vintages of web browsers. This stuff isn't dramatic, but it is nice that it's pulled together.

    Chapter 12, "Print Styles" talks about how you can serve out alternative tags to satisfy alternative media types. When I first learned of this, I took it to a boss. I showed how you could have one layout for the screen and a very different layout when printed. It was like dropping a jet engine on his desk. I was really happy to see that functionality emphasized in this book.

    Chapter 14 is all about image replacement. With CSS, you can swap out a heading for the flashier equivalent in graphics. The chapter talks about different methods but leaves out the most exciting new method of image replacement: sFIR—swapping text for the Flash equivalent and doing it only with some JavaScript and DHTML slight of hand.

    What did I want out of this book? Well, I have six other CSS books kicking around. Some are painfully artsy and detailed. A couple books are so dry that I have to know the tag to look it up. By itself, Web Standards Solutions is okay as a cookbook/theory book/photo essay of CSS. It needs more to back it up but then that "more" is readily available in other books and online. Since you probably have access to the CSS references, leaving them out spared some trees and probably knocked this book's price point down a notch.

    This isn't your one-stop for web standards but it does complement a foundation of design skills and/or CSS reference material.


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