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The best CSS book you ever bought?


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#1 paranoidandroid

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Posted 27 February 2005 - 05:04 PM

I need to learn more CSS and as useful as all the various [b]online

I already have DHTML AND CSS FOR THE WORLD WIDE WEB - Jason Cranford Teague, it's been an ok [b]book for reference more than anything, has all the basics, but it lacks in design techniques.

Looked on Amazon etc. but there are a few and have differing reviews.

So any recommendations?

<edited for clarity> ;)

#2 Adrian

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Posted 27 February 2005 - 05:08 PM

I'd heartily recommend Eric Meyer on CSS, and More Eric Meyer on CSS. ;)

I've not bought it/red it yet, but I'm expecting Dave Shea, and Molly Holzschlag's The Zen of CSS Design to be pretty good too. And only just released.

#3 DianeV

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Posted 27 February 2005 - 08:56 PM

Has anyone read books from both Eric Meyer *and* Jeffrey Zeldman? I'd like to hear a comparison, if anyone's of a mind to provide one.

#4 JJDude

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Posted 28 February 2005 - 12:37 AM

I recommend Sitepoint.com 's book on Designing without Tables.

#5 Adrian

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Posted 28 February 2005 - 04:40 AM

I never actually finished Zeldman's Designing with Web Standards, but it's difficult to compare to the Meyer books I've read, purely because the focus is so different.

Zeldman's book in that case is about giving all the reasoning and so on behind using web standards (probably why I didn't finish it, it was a bit like preaching to the choir!), whereas Meyer's 2 books "on CSS" are very practical looks at using CSS for design.

If you want to know why, then Zeldman's book is more likely to give you the grounding there, thought Meyer's books might be a bit more inspirational and givew you the buzz for it without even needing all the other reasons.
If you want to know what you can do, and some ideas on how to do it, Meyer's books are a lot better IMHO. Though that may be slightly unfair to Zeldman as I haven't done him the curtosey of reading it all.

If you're getting into CSS, then IMHO, Meyer's books will open your eyes to the kinds of things you can usually quite easily accomplish in CSS, that are either a lot more difficult, or nigh on impossible to achieve in plain HTML.

In one he talks about adding an icon and border to different types of links. If you wanted to do that in standard HTML, it would be annoying, time consuming, full of extra code, and still wouldn't look at good. In CSS, it's a few styles, and a class on the <a>, easy.

A much more practical approach I think.

#6 fisicx

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Posted 28 February 2005 - 05:30 AM

However, and this is a big one, you can't learn CSS from a book. Understanding comes from experimentation. If all you do is replicate somebody elses work then you do not learn. If something goes wrong, without the deeper understanding of what is happening you will not be able to fix it. CSS is the raw data, reading books will provide knowledge, experimentation will give you understanding.

So go for Eric Mayer's book to get the knowledge but use Zeldman to help with the understanding.

Or buy neither. Get online and use the many, many FREE tutorials to discover how it works. You really can't go wrong with these three here:

W3C Schools CSS Tutorial
Mulders Stylesheets Tutorial
Htmlite

#7 DianeV

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Posted 28 February 2005 - 11:05 AM

True. I've been using CSS for 3-4 years now; in my particular case, I was looking for a deeper understanding of implementation to see what I may have missed, and was just curious about the differences in the two books.

There are also issues with CSS in commercial web design, where a portion of customers may be using older browsers, and choices must be made. As well, I want to leave clients with sites that work for *their* customers *now* rather than always playing with something like the Full CSS Property Compatibility Chart (hint: green is good).

#8 paranoidandroid

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Posted 28 February 2005 - 01:21 PM

Thanks for the suggestions,

Eric Meyer on CSS sounds like it could be what I am after. I can do the basics and have put together and messed with various layouts etc. What I am looking for is the next step, using CSS to produce quality designs. (the quality of some of the sites featured on www.cssvault.com has opened my eyes to the potential CSS holds)

<edit>Ordered The Zen of CSS Design & Eric Meyer on CSS through Cre8asite Shop/Ammazon</edit>

#9 Adrian

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Posted 02 March 2005 - 05:25 AM

I think you'll like Eric's book, I thought it was great. Let us know what you think and how you get on ;)

#10 fisicx

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Posted 02 March 2005 - 10:15 AM

Eric's book is very good but a bit short on actual reference material.

If (for example) you want to know all the things you can do with {font:} you will need to have something else to hand.

#11 TheManBehindTheCurtain

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Posted 02 March 2005 - 10:29 AM

Having made it entirely through Zeldman's "Designing with Web Standards" I can give it an endorsement if you're looking for two things: a detailed business and technical case for designing with web standards, and a moderately detailed look at CSS Level 2 and what you can do with it.

The first 100 or so pages are articulate, empassioned and funny. If you're already sold on the idea of designing with web standards, you'll be cheering for the first 50 pages or so ("Atta boy Jeff, hit'em again, hit'em again!") and toward the end you'll be saying "Hey, OK, Jeff, you won. Stop pounding on it and get on the rest of it."

The balance of the book provides a good introduction to CSS Level 2 coding and design practices, including a good explanation of tableless design versus hybrid designs that rely mostly on CSS but still use tables for an overarching page structure. He goes into some detail on the box model and similar browser issues. But this is definitely the kind of book you read once as a novice to get a good grounding in what you can do. I rarely go back to the book now, though, as what I need from here on is detailed reference material.

One downside is that Zeldman's humor is frequently derisive and after a while he sounds more like he's whining instead of cracking jokes. But overall he's articulate and persuasive and I think this is the kind of "professional's" book that we all refer to as our shared manifesto.

#12 Adrian

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Posted 02 March 2005 - 10:53 AM

For reference material, I always use a couple of links by Eric as well, from his CSS Reference page.

The 2 framed pages are great, and if you use Opera (and I think they work in FF/Moz too) check out the sidebars, Rijk's Panelizer is GREAT. Offline references of HTML4 and CSS2.1, and a Lipsum text generator. Cool tools :)

#13 paranoidandroid

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Posted 05 March 2005 - 08:36 AM

Let us know what you think and how you get on


:D will do, hopefully I will have a CSS only site to show you.

Have the Meyer book now, not had chance to have a good look at it so far, but do like the way it incorporates tutorials with online files. Also nice to have nice clear colour illustrations.

Zeldman is another 'guru' I have been looking into, think I will stick to what I can find online on him though.

Thanks again all.

#14 wiser3

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Posted 07 March 2005 - 09:02 AM

I recently bought Cascading Style Sheets: the definitive guide, Eric Meyer on CSS and More Eric Meyer on CSS.

The guide is invaluable as a reference tool. I'm not happy with the other two. It seems that every function in every chapter has warnings of bugs in IE. There are a variety of hacks and work arounds described to get around these bugs, but i need code that i know will work now and into the future! When IE 7 comes out i don't wanna go back and redesign or rehack all my web sites. Will previous clients give me bad reviews when their sites don't work with the new release? I can't take that chance.

The first book wasn't too bad but the advanced techniques in the second book are too buggy and too much trouble to deal with. I don't have the time to be figuring out how to avoid that many bugs in order to do something with CSS that could be done easily using other techniques.

#15 kinomuto

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Posted 07 March 2005 - 09:26 AM

Best book I ever bought on CSS was 'Cascading Style Sheets' by Hakon Wium Lie and Bert Bos. It's strange that is so rarely gets referenced as Hakon Wium Lie invented CSS... It's a good reference book as well as giving very valuable back ground info on each and every attribute.

The Meyer book (Meyer on CSS) is 'ok' if you are doing the transition between tables and pure CSS layouts but if you are trying to work in the latter then you will need something a little more substantial. I have to be honest, I found it a little limited once you get to grips with the basics. As people in this thread have suggested, it is heavily influenced to Mozilla/Firefox which isn't so handy if you work commercially.

Aside from having the book I mention as a reference, I would advise anyone learning CSS /XHTML layouts to use the web and not buy books.

http://www.htmldog.com is an excellent resource - if you follow these tutorials you would have a very solid start. This is actually how I start to train my staff, so I can stick 100% behind that comment.

Then follow this up with looking through some templates - such as those found at:

http://www.bluerobot.com/web/layouts/
http://glish.com/css/

And some hacks - just for good measure. However as wiser3 indicates, avoid whenever possible these can have issues for you in the future.

http://www.dithered....ters/index.html

I often flip through a few examples at www.csszengarden.com for inspiration but as with all web skills, nothing beats real world problems to build your knowledge.

I would also heavily recommend getting a copy of TopStyle - from Nick Bradbury (www.bradsoft.com/topstyle/) - with drop down options and code validation it makes writing CSS very easy.

HTH

Kino

#16 paranoidandroid

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Posted 07 March 2005 - 02:22 PM

Thanks for the suggestions Wiser + Kinomuto,

Have actualy checked out many of those links Kinomuto (+ lots more) many times, but I always find online tutorials such as these are only useful in conjunction with learning from books, it's just a personal preference I learnt html this way and it works for me.

#17 DianeV

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Posted 07 March 2005 - 07:23 PM

kinomuto, I don't believe I've welcomed you to the forums -- so, welcome!

You bring up some excellent points re commercial web design. For those of us who deal with dozens (and dozens) of clients' sites, the prospect of clients discovering that their nice website is suddenly "broken" is a this-cannot-ever-happen scenario -- as is the prospect of having to go back to repair each of them from now until forever.

I'm usually the one arguing this point, so ... thanks. :-)

#18 kinomuto

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Posted 08 March 2005 - 02:17 AM

Hi Diane :)

Thanks for the welcome - I do read this forum a lot, having met Dave and Ammon. The RSS feed is particularly useful actually - I'm am becoming a bit fan of that technology!

Paranoidandroid - yes I know what you mean. I still prefer reading books over the screen but being based about 300km north of moscow means I am having to change my habits on that. On the last flight I caught from the UK I had about 30 KG of Wrox books to carry! Not sure how long British Airways will let me get away with that one ;)

#19 alexis

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Posted 09 March 2005 - 09:38 PM

Hi, I would recommend:

- Eric Meyer's Definitive Guide for getting to know CSS
- Dan Cederholm's Web Standards Solutions for seeing how to correctly apply CSS
- www.alistapart.com articles on CSS
- www.css-discuss.org mailing list
- and a lot of practice, you learn a lot while doing

Regards!



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