Reviewed November 27th, 2006 @ 06:35PM
Web Standards Solutions: The Markup and Style Handbook is a 2004 release by Dan Cederholm. I was inclined to read this book after reading his more recent publication, Bulletproof Web Design. I really enjoy his writing style and the content presented. Though this book was published a few years ago, the principles still apply to many of the modern techniques used to solve problems.
What I liked most about this book was how Dan keeps his opinions to himself and brings facts and solutions to the table. The book was not watered down with ‘selling’ web standards. Each chapter concluded with several routes to achieving different tasks. Dan walks through each of the methods and explains how each works (and its upsides and downsides). Many of the chapters also concluded with ‘bonus’ or ‘extra credit’ pieces that stretched the reader a step further.
The structure of this book reminded me of Simon Collison’s recent book, Beginning CSS Web Development. Both books are excellent in their own respects, and I would recommend having both as a quick reference.
Part One walked through the markup. He took short chapters and devoted them to things such as lists, headings, tables, quotations, and forms. Each chapter discussed old methods for handling tasks, the markup and meaning associated with the tasks, and how to best organize your markup. These chapters give a very thorough understanding of the everyday tags used in web development.
Part Two got down and dirty with CSS and applying it to your markup. Not only did it discuss CSS, but it also discussed organizing your CSS, applying Print styles to your pages, and how to manage things such as text and image replacement (always a tough subject). He gives a very thorough walkthrough of applying CSS — and then looks to the future and stirs up the creative juices.
There are several times where I have referred back to Bulletproof Web Design to help me get creative with different tasks. Dan’s writing style is great in that he gets out of the way and opens up the door for you to get creative and get your hands dirty. It’s not weighted down with personal opinion or selling — but is loaded with practical techniques and methods. If you are new to CSS and would like to learn best practices, I suggest buying this book along with Simon’s book, Beginning CSS Web Development — these two books will give you a solid foundation moving forward. For the advanced CSS developer, this book is still nice to have as a reference.