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Sams Teach Yourself HTML and CSS In 24 Hours 107

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
r3lody writes "Sams Teach Yourself HTML and CSS in 24 Hours 8th edition, by Julie C. Meloni and Michael Morrison, provides the beginning and intermediate web designer with the tools needed to create standards-based web sites. The major focus of the book is XHTML 1.1 and CSS 2, but HTML 5 and some XHTML 1.0 are discussed. Overall, the presentation and content are very good. One small minus was that the publisher's site did not include downloadable examples from the book. I also found no errata until the latter parts of the book. Published in December of 2009, the 8th edition provides reasonably current information." Read on for Ray's review.
Sams Teach Yourself HTML and CSS in 24 Hours (8th edition)
author Julie C. Meloni and Michael Morrison
pages 456
publisher Sams
rating 8/10
reviewer Ray Lodato
ISBN 0672330970
summary A very useful text on web page coding using XHTML and CSS.
Each "hour" of the book includes a "What You'll Learn in this Hour" section at the beginning, and Q&A, Quiz and Exercises sections at the end. Most chapters also include a "Try It Yourself" section, indicating what you should be accomplishing with your own web site. The examples have color coding for the various tags, comments, etc., and the book's examples work with a number of browsers. Specifically, Apple Safari, Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera browsers were used to test the examples. If you use the coding standards espoused in the book, your web pages should appear properly formatted across most computers. Handheld browsers are only covered briefly, in the section discussing media-specific style sheets.

Overall, the book is divided into five parts: Getting Started on the Web, Building Blocks of Practical Web Design, Advanced Web Page Design with CSS, Advanced Web Site Functionality and Management, and Appendixes.

Part I: Getting Started on the Web provides the customary introductory material, suitable for beginning users. After describing the seemingly obligatory "history of the web", the first hour concludes with discussions of how to choose a web hosting provider – a topic rarely covered in the books I've read. The second hour teaches how to get web pages uploaded to a web server using FTP, and how to distribute content in a file-based structure without a server. The next two hours then cover the basics of XHTML 1.1 and CSS 2. For both XHTML and CSS, very clear instructions on how to validate your coding help insure that your pages follow the standards.

The next 9 chapters comprise Part II: (Building Blocks of Practical Web Design). This part goes into detail regarding web page coding. Starting with text alignment using paragraph tags and lists, the book has a good collection of text formatting tips using CSS as the preferred style methodology. Tables and links are covered in the next two chapters at a pretty standard level. I found the chapter on using color had a lot of good information, but I believe a beginning user would find it somewhat confusing – especially when hexadecimal notation is introduced.

The next three chapters of this part of the book cover images and multimedia. I liked the focus on getting the right sizing for photos and banners, and the tutorial on how to place the images on the web page (including wrapping text, image maps, and clickable images). I was disappointed in the limited coverage of tiling and GIF animation. The multimedia chapter was a pleasant addition – one I have rarely seen in web design texts. The discussion was tilted toward Microsoft technology, so my testing worked properly only under Internet Explorer at first, however I finally managed to get Firefox to deal with the embedded object. Some information was given for embedding YouTube links, also. I would have liked to have seen more information on the parameters for the WMP object coding. The last chapter in Part II covers frames – both framesets and iframes – with only basic information.

Advanced Web Page Design with CSS is the main topic of Part III. These six chapters dig into the important aspects of CSS alignment. One chapter focuses entirely on margins, padding, alignment and floating, and provides a nice introduction to the full discussion of the CSS box model in the next chapter. Reformatting lists was the principal target of the next chapter, leading to a discussion of navigation bars (horizontal and vertical) in the chapter after that. This is where I started picking up on some irregularities that escaped a review. For example, even though this was supposed to be standard XHTML, I noticed some list item ending tags missing from the examples. Granted, browsers still display the list properly, but this should have been caught before printing.

The last two chapters in this part cover modifying text display using mouse actions, and fixed versus liquid layouts. I liked the mouse techniques to modify a displayed image based on which thumbnail image the mouse is over. It's a simple little method that looks very nice on the page. The liquid layout chapter gave me some problems at first. My attempts didn't work the same under different browsers at first, but when I went back over them while writing the review, they worked just fine. I'm still at a loss to understand what was wrong, so I suspect those starting out may have a similar experience.

The final major part, Advanced Web Site Functionality and Management, wraps up some miscellaneous issues. First, they cover how to create a modified CSS profile to make the web page more print-friendly. The next chapter provides an introduction to JavaScript. Unfortunately, this is where I found some more non-standard XHTML code. Web-based forms are covered only at a high-level in hour 22. The authors do provide examples of each type of form field, with CSS code to neaten up the page, but it appears to be a very cursory handling of the topic.

The final two hours go over the basics of keeping your web site organized, and how to publicize the site on major search engines. The book wraps up with a final part for the two appendixes, containing useful links to further information and a general XHTML and CSS reference.

Teach Yourself HTML and CSS in 24 Hours appears to be a properly authoritative text that would help you create a standards-based web site. Like most texts of this type, it does not reference web design software such as DreamWeaver. Rather, it addresses understanding exactly what code standards-based browsers will handle, and how you can manipulate them to create exactly what you want. The two main disappointments with the book are the obvious errors in the later chapters, and the lack of downloadable examples from the publisher's web site. That said, the content is so worthwhile, I rated it an 8 out of 10.

You can purchase Sams Teach Yourself HTML and CSS in 24 Hours (8th edition) from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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Sams Teach Yourself HTML and CSS In 24 Hours

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 01, 2010 @02:33PM (#30984382)

    Only for those too stupid to learn it - which is a good thing. Sandbox the idiots and keep them as far away from HTML as possible; that way the web will not look like MySpace.

  • Re:Why type? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Captain Splendid (673276) <capsplendid@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Monday February 01, 2010 @02:50PM (#30984604) Homepage Journal
    Does anyone still type in HTML or CSS anymore? Don't you just bring up a WSYWIG designer and just publish your page?

    I mean, Please! This is the 21st century wtf are we still typing for christ-sakes?!


    This is why. [little-gamers.com]
  • Re:Why type? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Pojut (1027544) on Monday February 01, 2010 @03:05PM (#30984786) Homepage

    I certainly don't do html hard coding anymore, but back in the day when I was in middle school ('95-'98) learning HTML from a couple of books, I did everything in notepad. There is no way I would hard-code an entire website nowadays, but I'm glad I started with the straight coding...it has made learning PHP MUCH easier.

  • by rgo (986711) on Monday February 01, 2010 @03:07PM (#30984822)
    Maybe in 2 hours you learned the very basics, like changing fonts and colors. Learning how to do complex layouts will take you a much longer time, due to broad scope of CSS (CSS 3 is massive) and because every browser implements CSS differently.
  • Re:Only 24 hours? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shados (741919) on Monday February 01, 2010 @03:16PM (#30984962)

    IE6 was the worse, but pretty much all browsers screw(ed) up pretty badly at one point or another. And HTML/CSS leaves a lot of the default implementations to the browser developers, so while there are many "implicit" agreements between Firefox, Safari, and even IE, they're not part of the standards. So its still a moving target. I remember back in the days of Firefox 3.0 (which isn't long ago in human years, but feels like forever ago in Web years). I would systematically assume that Firefox was right, and IE was not.

    Until I hit display:inline-block, which at the time IE got right on SOME stuff, and firefox never got right at all. Took me a while to figure that one out :) (Its been fixed since then, but...)

  • Re:Why type? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 01, 2010 @03:21PM (#30985024)

    If you to be one of those persons who use WYSIWYG editors to carve your HTML/CSS then in order to find out why you shouldn't use one of those then simply pick up any document you've created with your editor of choice and open it with a text editor. The amount of useless cruft that it creates will blow your mind. And more to the point, if you don't know HTML and/or CSS and rely on a WYSIWYG tool then no matter how pretty your doc appears to be, you still don't have a clue about what you are doing. And that tends to be useful if you do that professionally.

  • Re:Only 24 hours? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by djheru (1252580) on Monday February 01, 2010 @04:01PM (#30985748)

    quote: For example, CSS doesn't have variables... so you can't say something like "headerColor = #5444BB" and just use that wherever you want the header color. What were they thinking!?

    That's what css classes are for:
    CSS - .blueHeader { color: #5444BB; } .redHeader { color: #BB4445; }

    HTML -
    I'm Blue
    I'm Red

  • Re:Why type? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dubbreak (623656) on Monday February 01, 2010 @04:04PM (#30985814)

    Does anyone still type in HTML or CSS anymore? Don't you just bring up a WSYWIG designer and just publish your page? I mean, Please! This is the 21st century wtf are we still typing for christ-sakes?! This is why. [little-gamers.com]

    Dreamweaver is more aptly called nightmare weaver. Quick and dirty one up static page? Sure use WYSIWYG. Editing something existing with well thought out hand written CSS? Forget it, you are just going to screw things up.

    Of course static hand created webpages in this day are the real WTF. For anything more complicated than a few pages it makes a lot more sense to run a CMS. Design the template once properly so it looks correct on the major browsers and let users change the content via the CMS. No luser should ever be FTPing anything to or from the site and the "web master" of past should not longer exist to shuffle changes on a website. It's not the 90's anymore. We have great (and free!) tools to manage creating, editing and publishing content on websites.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 01, 2010 @04:22PM (#30986140)

    Web design is wholly different than HTML + CSS development.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 01, 2010 @04:29PM (#30986282)

    I would have gone with "402 Payment Required"

  • Re:X in 24 hours (Score:3, Insightful)

    by west (39918) on Monday February 01, 2010 @04:32PM (#30986330)

    I hadn't realized that *literally* judging a book by its cover gets you moderated 'Informative'. It will be interesting to see how the parent rates versus postings that actually address the content of the book.

  • Re:Only 24 hours? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fm6 (162816) on Monday February 01, 2010 @06:33PM (#30988232) Homepage Journal

    IE6 was the worse, but pretty much all browsers screw(ed) up pretty badly at one point or another.

    True. Back when Netscape still dominated the browser market, they took a lot of flack for their private extensions to HTML.

    And HTML/CSS leaves a lot of the default implementations to the browser developers, so while there are many "implicit" agreements between Firefox, Safari, and even IE, they're not part of the standards.

    The vagueness is by design. You can't specify exactly what a given element will do, because there are all kinds of factors you don't know anything about: resolution, display size, color depth, etc. Unfortunately, most web designers still don't get this. Instead of learning the official description of an object, they just look at the way it's rendered on their particular setup and say, "Oh, that's what it's supposed to do."

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