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The Ultimate CSS Reference

samzenpus posted about 6 years ago | from the read-all-about-it dept.

Book Reviews 124

stoolpigeon writes "Cascading Style Sheets are now the dominant method used to format web pages. Even something as simple as modifying a WordPress blog can involve digging around a bit in CSS. A quick search at Amazon on CSS returns over 7 thousand books in the computer category alone. This book claims to be the ultimate, though, and that made me approach it with a bit of skepticism. Sure, it could be a decent reference, but is it truly the ultimate reference? I admit I was curious to see." Read on for the rest of JR's review.If any book is going to be an acceptable reference there are a few things that are going to need to be in place, no matter what the subject matter. I'd like to discuss those first, from front to back. The table of contents takes up 9 pages. It is specific enough to easily get the reader pointed in the right direction.

The first two chapters cover introductory material, discussing just what CSS is, what it does, and syntax/nomenclature issues. After that, every chapter is reference material, until chapter 16. The last three chapters cover vendor specific properties, various hacks and work-arounds as well as the difference between html and xhtml. Those five chapters are presented more as straight out prose compared to the reference chapters between, though they still use extensive highlighting and background colors to divide and organize content.

The reference chapters are extremely well laid out. A command, property or other item is in bold at the beginning. Below it, highlighted in grey are various arguments that can be used with that item. An example will be given in a colored box. There are two grids. One covers three aspects of the spec for this item; if it is inherited, the initial value and thecss version of the item. There is also a list of browser support for the item in IE6+, FF1+, Saf 1.3+ and Op9.2+. The second grid shows compatibility for three versions of Internet Explorer (5.5, 6.0 and 7.0), three versions ofFirefox (1.0, 1.5 and 2.0), three versions of Safari (1.3, 2.0 and 3.0) and Opera 9.2. When appropriate there is also a discussion of or list of appropriate values and discussion of usage.

At the end of the book is a single appendix which contains an alphabetical index of properties. There is no proper index for the full book, which is not as bad as it could have been, without the other tools, but is still disappointing.

The typography is clear. The book is concise and clear with little wasted space or verbiage. The color scheme for highlighting the various sections is extremely easy to read and pleasant.

There is one more feature of the book that, aside from content, makes it very useful. There is an online edition of The Ultimate CSS Reference and as far as I can tell, it is completely open to use by anyone without any kinds of restrictions. I couldn't find any in my copy of the book, I didn't have to sign up for anything to use the site. This really makes up for the lack of an index as the entire book is searchable from the site. For me, it is the best of both worlds. I have the dead-tree version on my shelf, ready to pull down and satisfy my curiosity. I have the electronic version freely available on the web site, should I need it. The site has the added bonus of including an area for comments on the contents of the book, and there are already some helpful comments and tips there.

I think then, it is safe to say that mechanically this is a more than acceptable reference. The other important piece aside from it being usable, is the quality of the information itself. Good information is useless if one cannot get to it, and a great access system is useless if the information is no good.

The authors, O'Brien and Olsson are themselves extremely experienced in the field and I think it is safe to say they are experts in regards to CSS. The book also had two experienced "Expert Reviewers" in Natalie Downe and Roger Johansson. I couldn't find any problems with the content, and I think that it is safe to say that these four, along with others have done due diligence to provide an accurate guide to CSS.

Is this the ultimate CSS reference? I haven't read the others, and ultimate seems to imply comparison to me. So while it might not be the ultimate, I do feel comfortable recommending it to anyone who needs an extremely usable, accurate reference to CSS. I would even recommend it to a beginner who wants to learn CSS, though they should probably augment this book with something aimed at teaching CSS, not just providing a reference.

You can purchase The Ultimate CSS Reference 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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SLASHDOT SUX0RZ (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24470329)

_0_
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the ultimate goatse reference [goatse.cz]

Google (4, Insightful)

CopaceticOpus (965603) | about 6 years ago | (#24470355)

The ultimate CSS reference is Google. Just follow their search results and not their example.

CSS isn't all that difficult, but it's the edge cases and browser incompatibilities that are likely to cause you headaches. There are many excellent sites out there tracking these topics, and collectively they do a better job than any book could hope to do.

Re:Google (2, Informative)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 6 years ago | (#24470421)

Especially since a book will quickly become outdated. They can't possibly know what incompatibilities will come up in future browser releases, or what will happen when they start implementing CSS3. If you want to know the basic idea of CSS, and how the concepts work, then a language reference isn't the way to go.

Re:Google (5, Interesting)

TheRedSeven (1234758) | about 6 years ago | (#24470455)

Google's usefulness aside, I like having a dead-tree reference sitting on my shelf for ease of use.

However, in this case I think the best part of this whole review is the link to the SitePoint CSS Reference website [sitepoint.com] .

That website is a useful tool all by itself!

Interesting, but... (1)

MacDork (560499) | about 6 years ago | (#24476109)

This book appears to contain inaccuracies. For instance, this page [sitepoint.com] indicates that Safari through version 3.0 does not support widows. Without even considering that Safari 3.1 was a substantial upgrade in CSS support [evotech.net] ... Apple says Safari has supported widows [apple.com] and orphans since Safari 1.3.

Re:Google (0, Troll)

aqk (844307) | about 6 years ago | (#24476177)

Google's usefulness aside, I like having a dead-tree reference sitting on my shelf for ease of use.

Yeah, I know what you mean-
When my computer is down, I like to grab an Abacus, or least my sliderule. It's a pretty handy substitute.
All this hypertext nonsense pales in comparison to looking up on that shelf, browsing for the right book, thumbing through the index and looking at page after page to find the right topic! So much quicker!
If only they would do away with hypertext! I could probably code HTML much more quickly then with my handy 63 lb. of manuals on my desk!
Lessee now... where did I leave my pencil and coding pad?...
And oh, yes! Mustn't forget my handy flowchart template!

.

Re:Google (5, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | about 6 years ago | (#24470637)

One thing that hasn't quickly shown itself as outdated, however, and which isn't so easily accessible from Google as coding references, is web design in general. I recently picked up The Zen of CSS Design [amazon.com] and am amazed at what beautiful and usable layouts are possible with standard CSS. There's plenty of resources on how to write up a file full of CSS style rules, and too few resources that tell you how to create a site people will really want to look at.

Re:Google (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 6 years ago | (#24474879)

I'm not so sure about that. 10 year ago, we were all using tables, and it was the "best" way of doing layout on the web. Now we've all moved to using divs, and generally it works a lot better. However, who's to say in another 5-10 years we won't move onto some other way of doing it? Also, Like I said, a language reference isn't so good. The Zen of CSS Design looks like it's much more about concepts and good practices, and isn't simply a language reference.

Re:Google (5, Funny)

an.echte.trilingue (1063180) | about 6 years ago | (#24470589)

Besides, the book is not very complete. I perused the table of contents, but I couldn't find the section on making table based website templates anywhere. How are we supposed to make three column pages without tables?

Re:Mods (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24470743)

C'mon mods - parent post should obviously be modded 'funny' or 'troll'!

Re:Google (4, Insightful)

fm6 (162816) | about 6 years ago | (#24470761)

Especially one that doesn't have an index! The reviewer says that the presence of an online searchable copy of the book makes up for this. But if I have to go online to look something up, why do I even want the book?

Re:Google (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24470997)

The ultimate CSS reference is Google. Just follow their search results and not their example.

CSS isn't all that difficult, but it's the edge cases and browser incompatibilities that are likely to cause you headaches. There are many excellent sites out there tracking these topics, and collectively they do a better job than any book could hope to do.

Yes, there are many excellent sites out there. For example, here's one really excellent site [sitepoint.com] by Tommy Olsson and Paul O'Brien, hosted by some publisher called SitePoint.

Re:Google (2, Insightful)

hal9000(jr) (316943) | about 6 years ago | (#24471337)

The ultimate CSS reference is Google. Just follow their search results and not their example.

Providing you know the magic search string that leads you do the answer you need. I had a problem with floating divs in IE last week-end. I searched and came acorss some answers related to "has Layout", but none of those suggestions worked.

Search engines are a wonderful thing, but they aren't the magic bullet you are asserting.

Re:Google (1)

mengel (13619) | about 6 years ago | (#24471559)

I originally found this one [communitymx.com] via Google, but I don't recall what I was searching for. I suspect it may be what you're looking for though.

Re:Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24473875)

The web is good at volume -- not necessarily quality answers. Lots written about CSS but most of it is more outdated and marginal than any book. I'd hope that a book like this had, at least for the medium term, done all the legwork and filtered the noise.

Why buy a book on CSS? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24470397)

or indeed a book on anything related to website coding?

It's all online and much more up to date.

I can only think of one thing worse than buying a book on CSS, and that's writing one - yawn!

Re:Why buy a book on CSS? (4, Insightful)

Jellybob (597204) | about 6 years ago | (#24471609)

As a place to start out I often find books very useful to have. It's not going to teach you everything, and it's unlikely to be completely up to date.

What it does do though is to give you an overview of what you need to know, and cruically, how those parts fit together as a whole. Once you know that, it becomes a lot easier to know what to search for when you hit the inevitable compatiability bugs, and awkward edge cases.

Re:Why buy a book on CSS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24471807)

It's all online[...]

In many ways, indeed!

Quick -- buy it while it's valid (4, Insightful)

krog (25663) | about 6 years ago | (#24470405)

Before IE9 or whatever stomps all over 1/3 of the subject material...

Re:Quick -- buy it while it's valid (2, Insightful)

Tumbleweed (3706) | about 6 years ago | (#24470503)

Before IE9 or whatever stomps all over 1/3 of the subject material...

Dude, if you do it carefully, it'll always be *valid*. It just might not *work*. :)

It's a corollary of the IBM Pollyanna Principle. The corollary states, "Software should be coded to comply to the relevant standards." :)

Re:Quick -- buy it while it's valid (4, Insightful)

Fallingcow (213461) | about 6 years ago | (#24471069)

It's always fun to see in what new and exciting ways my pages break when I try them in IE7 after designing in/for Firefox/Opera/Safari/Every other sort-of-standards-based web browser.

And that's just the warm-up. Then I try IE6.

Re:Quick -- buy it while it's valid (1)

daveime (1253762) | about 6 years ago | (#24474175)

Yes, because Firefox does SUCH a wonderful job with vertical-align within a DIV.

Only 2 wrapped divs and combinations of absolute and relative positioning, as opposed to MSIE's 3 wrapped divs :-(

Re:Quick -- buy it while it's valid (1)

Firehed (942385) | about 6 years ago | (#24476289)

It depends what you're doing, but IE7 tends to respect my CSS fairly well, all things considered. A couple of pixels off here and there, but nothing too horrible most of the time (that could come down to a matter of luck or just knowing the right tricks to use beforehand though, like text-align:center; in the parent of the div that gets the margin: 0 auto; [and the text-align:left; to correct previous] for IE centering).

IE6, on the other hand... well, <!--[if LTE IE6]><style type="text/css">* { display: none; }</style><![endif]--> should get the point across well enough.

I had sex with a beautiful girl last night (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24470411)

She is spectacular. Perfect body - very skinny with nice big tits. She even has a beautiful face, but most of all, she is really layed back and cool.

I think I'm in love, but for now I'm just happy to have fucked such a wonderful girl.

Re:I had sex with a beautiful girl last night (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24471287)

and best of all, she had the hugest clit I've ever seen (and I look at a lot of porn!). It looked almost like a small penis, but she said she was just happy to see me. She's a squirter, too. While I was fucking her up the ass, she asked me to rub the man in the boat and I ended up with a handful of female ejaculate. It has an interesting flavor. I can't wait to suck it next time I see her!

Re:I had sex with a beautiful girl last night (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24472197)

How much did your "girl" cost?

Re:I had sex with a beautiful girl last night (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24472683)

I've bought her dinner and drinks a few times and we've split the check a few others.

Her pussy is so tight I was worried about ripping it. Oh my God. It was like fucking a virgin without the mess.

Save Trees Read Web (4, Insightful)

Sir_Real (179104) | about 6 years ago | (#24470445)

I mean really....

you can't grep a dead tree

Will this book have a single iota of information in it that I can't get from the w3c?

Re:Save Trees Read Web (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24470817)

if everyone pinched a penny as hard as you do there would be no economy at all.

Re:Save Trees Read Web (1)

ohcrapitssteve (1185821) | about 6 years ago | (#24471351)

I don't know why I'm replying to an AC, but you managed to miss his whole point about being unable to grep a dead tree. If you didn't know what grep meant and refused to take the 7 seconds and Google it, this basically means he's unable to perform some manner of a context search on a paper-on-the-table book the same way grep or Ctrl+F would allow him to do so on a computer. Searching for the exact syntax of a CSS command that contains the word 'border' inside of it is no fun when you're turning page after page. It'd be much easier to visit a page on the net and use ctrl+F to skim through.

Re:Save Trees Read Web (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24471659)

That's right brother!

We just have to buy more and more things that are totally, utterly and craptastically useless just so we can prop up the almighty (cough) 'economy'.

No penny pinchers we! No siree-bob!

You Sir, are a drooling fucking idiot.

Re:Save Trees Read Web (1)

SirShmoopie (1333857) | about 6 years ago | (#24470919)

Oh I don't know. Books have their place.

I am somewhat fond of taking books with me to my local coffee shop and partakeing of some leasurely research.

If I have my laptop with me I still prefer to take a textbook with me on the current subject.

It's just so much 'nicer', in an indefinable sort of way then spending quality coffee drinking time searching google for information that can be obtained whilst sitting back and sipping.

Ok, its unlikely to be 'cutting edge', but in my years of experience I've not found that to be quite so vital.

Given how hard it is just to become well versed in a CS subject, especially a programming/scripting language, I tend to find it not so desperately important that I forgoe my books (which I tend to replace as they go significantly out of date), with some website that may, or may not, cover the very latest aspects of the topic with the required level of detail.

Re:Save Trees Read Web (2, Interesting)

TJamieson (218336) | about 6 years ago | (#24472189)

I mean really....

you can't grep a dead tree

Will this book have a single iota of information in it that I can't get from the w3c?

Info that you can't get from w3c, no. Some people (myself included) prefer the tactile feel of a book; being able to flip around, etc. Flipping around in a PDF makes me insane.

Hey! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24470495)

I know there will be people who'll say "why use a reference BOOK, when I can look it up fast, free, relevant, and up-to-date on my computer".

To you cynics, I'd say, fine, but what if you're on the road, and have no laptop, and you absolutely must... uhmmm.

Never mind.

Reasons why this book doesn't matter (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24470511)

1. Firefox 3
2. Opera 9.5
3. Safari 4 Beta
4. Internet Explorer 8 Beta

(Books get stale, quickly.)

Re:Reasons why this book doesn't matter (1)

liquibyte (1151139) | about 6 years ago | (#24474179)

And this is exactly why the dot com bust was such a bitch! Mod lol or you don't remotely have a sense of humor.

CSS or Tables? (1, Troll)

jer2eydevil88 (960866) | about 6 years ago | (#24470535)

This brings back the question in the minds of ignorant people everywhere, why we are even switching from tables.

Re:CSS or Tables? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24470697)

This brings back the question in the minds of ignorant people everywhere, why we are even switching from tables.

Actually, the question I have is, if I want to use tables to, say, display data in a tabular form, is CSS still going to treat me like a stepchild in need of beatings?

But then again, I have the old O'Reilly CSS book that predates Firefox and Safari.

Re:CSS or Tables? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24470883)

Tables are fine for tabular data. Tables are not fine when used simply for page layout.

Re:CSS or Tables? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24470895)

Of course you can use tables for displaying, erm.. tables.

That's exactly what they are for.

What they're decidedly NOT for is for mashing together sliced up GIFs and JPEGS (and even 1px 'spacer' images) to resemble something that looks like a proper web page - but isn't.

Re:CSS or Tables? (1)

drx (123393) | about 6 years ago | (#24473547)

I think complex framesets are much better suited for layouts than tables.

Re:CSS or Tables? (1)

easyTree (1042254) | about 6 years ago | (#24475065)

Actually, the question I have is, if I want to use tables to, say, display data in a tabular form, is CSS still going to treat me like a stepchild in need of beatings?

That's the fault of the CSS zealots; not CSS.

Besides, it could be worse. At least there's no css equivalent of the spanish inquisition.

Re:CSS or Tables? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24470763)

Because DIV soup is so much tastier than nested table hell?

Soupiness aside, DIVs make more sense, although I hate it when people claim that DIVs are 'semantic'.

Table elements have semantic meaning, DIVs do not.

Even so. You're a mong if you do layout using tables nowadays.

Re:CSS or Tables? (1)

foniksonik (573572) | about 6 years ago | (#24472063)

DIVs don't have semantic meaning because they are not supposed to. They are only supposed to be used to DIVide up your content as needed for CSS styling... as in, give your DIVs a unique ID so you can scope your styles.. that's it... nothing more. If you choose to also style the DIVs so they have presentation, that's your choice but since DIVs have no semantics, they can be ignored as far as the actual content goes, as in a screen reader should not read a DIV at all...

If you want semantic structure to your document to divide it up into logic sections, use an UL and set the display to block and reset all the default styles, voila... a structured but unordered list of your content.

Tables on the other hand impose unwanted semantics, quite the opposite of DIVs or ULs.

Re:CSS or Tables? (1)

styrotech (136124) | about 6 years ago | (#24475773)

Soupiness aside, DIVs make more sense, although I hate it when people claim that DIVs are 'semantic'.

Table elements have semantic meaning, DIVs do not.

The people you were quoting were probably just muppets repeating something they didn't really understand, but it is possible to make some logical sense out of those kinds of statements.

so playing around with it a bit...

A div is generally defined as a block element with no inherent semantic meaning.

So if a div used for layout has a semantic value of zero, and a table element used for layout is semantically wrong (ie has a negative semantic value), then you could say that the div is 'more semantic' than the table element ;)

Likewise if some other elements do have row and column like relationships with each other, the table elements semantic value is now positive and the table becomes 'more semantic' than divs or spans used in the same situation.

OK, it was a bit of a stretch :)

Re:CSS or Tables? (1)

uhlume (597871) | about 6 years ago | (#24477279)

DIVs have no intrinsic semantic meaning, true.

They do support this nifty ID attribute, though, which allows you to assign them whatever semantic meaning you please.

And then style them accordingly.

Re:CSS or Tables? (4, Informative)

Fallingcow (213461) | about 6 years ago | (#24471165)

A lot of things are easier in CSS than with tables, not the least of which is producing legible markup. Table layouts are always a confusing mess, no matter how skilled the author, whereas a CSS/(X)HTML writer of even moderate skill can produce complex layouts that are, if not wonderful, at least much, much easier to read and understand than tables.

Then again, some things are harder in CSS, but that has more to do with IE's horrible implementation than with a flaw in CSS itself. In the end, very simple sites won't have those problems, so you might as well use CSS to keep things clean, and more complicated sites WILL have CSS problems but they'll still be easier to deal with than digging through a soup of TABLE, TR, TD, and TH tags.

Re:CSS or Tables? (2, Insightful)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about 6 years ago | (#24472513)

Tables aren't meant for layout. They're meant for tabular data which they are still superior for as they are old and there for work perfectly for any browser and in this day and age you shouldn't have to be writing out tables. You should have code that spits out data from a source in a table for you and then you just have to worry about writing a little CSS to style it.

Re:CSS or Tables? (1)

Crispy Critters (226798) | about 6 years ago | (#24472773)

Absolutely. Let's talk examples.

In old-school webpage design, text and graphics were placed on the screen using tables. This is the primarily the use that should generally be converted to CSS. Things like placing a vertical menu next to a block of text, centering a heading over some text, or mixing images and text in a heading. I have seen html laid out with multiple nested tables simply to get different levels of indenting for different blocks of text.

Re:CSS or Tables? (1)

DocHoncho (1198543) | about 6 years ago | (#24476373)

The absolute worst is the godawful pile of mess of shit that tools like Dreamweaver and the like spew out.

God, I have nightmares about manually troubleshooting that garbage... it's a one way ticket to crazy-town.

"It's tables all the way down..."

*shudder*

Re:CSS or Tables? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24471315)

Some things are still best done with tables, but most layout is easier and better with CSS, especially when the page is not static. With CSS you just switch some IDs or classes around, whereas with tables you have to move page content around. Even when CSS is used with non-semantic markup, it still separates presentation from content much better than tables.

Re:CSS or Tables? (1)

madprof (4723) | about 6 years ago | (#24471453)

Because layout done with tables is a royal pain. Divs done well kick the backside of tables.

Re:CSS or Tables? (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about 6 years ago | (#24472569)

If you layout a site with tables you've missed the point of tables completely.

Re:CSS or Tables? (2, Insightful)

PitaBred (632671) | about 6 years ago | (#24472887)

Missed the original point, yes. But until CSS came along, tables was the only way to get a decent layout most times. Lots of dogs only remember the old tricks ;)

Re:CSS or Tables? (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about 6 years ago | (#24473245)

You are correct that at one point you had to use tables but a lot of people had ie and netscape versions of their site or low res / high res versions and frames galore. A lot of mistakes were made. It's best we forget about them. ;)

Re:CSS or Tables? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24472185)

I can easily set up a three-column layout without tables. It's not that hard as people make it out to be (especially considering that people have already set everything [google.com] up [alistapart.com] * for [positioniseverything.net] you [positioniseverything.net] ), and it produces cleaner code than a table-based solution.

* Unfortunately, the Holy Grail layout has an annoying IE bug. Here's a fix [satzansatz.de] .

I hope they didn't forget the fundamentals (5, Interesting)

techno-vampire (666512) | about 6 years ago | (#24470611)

I remember, years ago, buying a book on CSS from O'Reily. It went into quite a bit of detail, although some of it was redundant. (That is, they'd show you how to do whatever the chapter was about for the same five types of page in each chapter.) However, the author neglected to include one very important, basic fact that made the book useless to me: he never showed how to get a css file into a web page. I'm sure all you web designers and webmonkeys out there are smirking, but remember, somebody had to show you how to do it too. At the time, all I knew was basic html, not even enough to use such things as frames, but I wanted to do some simple things like make sure all the pages on my private site had the same color scheme without needing to cut and paste from one to the other. Alas, the book turned out to be useless to me because the author thought that what I needed was too obvious to bother with. I hope this book is different, and that a reader who knows absolutely nothing about css will find enough here to be able to use it in their web site.

Re:I hope they didn't forget the fundamentals (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24472157)

I think this might be missing the point of this book a bit, since it's a reference book, not a tutorial. The two are quite different. (The book you mention might have been a reference book aswell: it may have ignored how to include CSS since it was out of the scope of the book)

Re:I hope they didn't forget the fundamentals (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | about 6 years ago | (#24472721)

No, it wasn't written as a reference work, although your point is well taken. If it were, there'd have been no need for all the repeated examples. As it was, I got the impression that they were there to fill out an otherwise very small book.

Re:I hope they didn't forget the fundamentals (1)

styrotech (136124) | about 6 years ago | (#24475879)

If thats the O'Reilly book I'm thinking of (The Definitive Guide by Eric Meyer?), that's because it was a reference book not a beginners tutorial book.

Trying to learn anything from a reference book is hard and confusing (I can sympathise because I originally learnt CSS 1 & 2 from the W3C specs), but that doesn't diminish the important value of a good reference book. That book was for a long time (and may still be) the only useful CSS book for people that had already picked up the basics and needed the nitty gritty details.

Now the market is completely swamped by beginner level CSS books.

Re:I hope they didn't forget the fundamentals (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | about 6 years ago | (#24476509)

If thats the O'Reilly book I'm thinking of (The Definitive Guide by Eric Meyer?), that's because it was a reference book not a beginners tutorial book.

I honestly don't remember. It was almost ten years ago when I read it, but I do remember that it had fish on the cover and even with all the redundant examples it was fairly thin. That might be the name, but it really doesn't sound right.

t. mulder (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24470635)

The ultimate css reference: http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-CSS2/

Useless Admission (0, Offtopic)

ojintoad (1310811) | about 6 years ago | (#24470713)

I admit I was curious to see.

Thank you for admitting your curiosity. I was concerned you were embarrassed about your interest, but I can see now you are comfortable sharing your desire to learn. Kudos to you, I hope your shining example will encourage others to step forward.

Sitepoint??? Really? (1, Troll)

knewter (62953) | about 6 years ago | (#24470749)

I don't have gobs of experience with sitepoint books, but that's just because what experiences I HAVE had with them have been nothing short of atrocious. Their Rails book was so ridiculously wrong-headed it didn't even 'sell' after they made it FREE. Looking at their site briefly, I don't feel even a LITTLE bit like this is 'the ultimate reference.'

Their 'layout properties' page may as well be a page from the w3, and indeed looks ridiculously similar. This book seems crap, from my quick glance, and I've been doing web development professionally for over 8 years. Meh.

Re:Sitepoint??? Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24471259)

I will second that. I have been burned by Sitepoint 4 times now. I buy lots of computer books because I like to get away from the monitor when I read. Sitepoint books suck consistently. Even if the subject of the book matches exactly what I need I would not buy another Sitepoint book. Their code examples have an almost 100% failure rate. I don't know how they keep popping out one pile of shit after another but they keep doing it.

Re:Sitepoint??? Really? (1)

74nova (737399) | about 6 years ago | (#24471693)

I think this post makes a lot of sense and I agree. However, anytime I see the word "meh" I automatically discredit you. Please, "nothing to see here" seems to have died, let "meh" die as well.

Are tables really that bad? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24470871)

No I'm not trolling here. CSS is clearly superior for formatting fonts and such, but I have yet to really understand why it is better than using tables. Tables are pretty logical things to understand and seem to work the same in all browsers.

I'm a hacker, not a designer and using tables is just easy for me. If I want to spend a lot of time learning "the right" way to use and implement css, I suppose I could, but I just don't see the benefit. Tables just work. The customer doesn't give a shit if you are using css or tables.

How is a page done in css that looks the same as a page done it tables better? I haven't worried much about SEO in a long time, but it seems that Google doesn't mind tables either...

Re:Are tables really that bad? (1)

kaizendojo (956951) | about 6 years ago | (#24471547)

No, they aren't. And the previous poster who said you are a mong (wtf that is) if you use tables should be forced to prove it.

Decloak did in this wonderful piece and it bears reading. There are a lot of myths about CSS divs vs. tables and this tests them out to a not so predictable conclusion. http://www.decloak.com/Dev/CSSTables/CSS_Tables_01.aspx [decloak.com]

And BTW, why do I want my code to be more legible? So someone else can copy it easier?!?! Screw 'em....let them work for it like I did.

Re:Are tables really that bad? (1)

madprof (4723) | about 6 years ago | (#24471885)

You shouldn't have to work at all for your HTML/CSS, it's easy. If you feel there is something of a learning curve, of course there is. And once you've learned what you need you find you can do things way more powerfully than before, and more easily.

Re:Are tables really that bad? (1)

styrotech (136124) | about 6 years ago | (#24475967)

I love the way vocal table layout defenders invented an artificial "CSS" vs "CSS-P" distinction. It reminds me of the artificial macro/micro evolution distinction that evolution disbelievers insist upon.

In both cases the goal is to separate out the absolutely undeniable part of something so they can better fight against the rest.

Re:Are tables really that bad? (1)

madprof (4723) | about 6 years ago | (#24471631)

A page laid out using CSS is way more flexible. You can adjust the width of your sidebar without worrying that the widths of other parts of the page will change.

All the design elements of your page have greater independence from each other with CSS. Want to move that bit of text up? Fine if it is just a div but not so fine if it is a cell making up half a column that is spanning 4 rows...

Tables work for simple stuff fine. CSS is the only route for anything more than that.

I've done pure table-based layout and now do pure CSS-based layout. I would never ever go back. Ever. And CSS is just as quick when you know what you're doing. Even cross-browser...

Re:Are tables really that bad? (3, Insightful)

Jellybob (597204) | about 6 years ago | (#24471705)

The customer doesn't give a shit if you are using css or tables.

No, but they do care that it's taking you twice as long to get the job done because your stuck in eight nested table cells.

Once you get used to CSS, it's hugely quicker. Wouldn't you rather say "put this block over there", then "nest this block, in that one, which goes to the left of that one, and then that nests here"?

No, it's DIV/FLOAT/CLEAR that's bad. (1)

Animats (122034) | about 6 years ago | (#24475609)

I have yet to really understand why it is better than using tables. Tables are pretty logical things to understand and seem to work the same in all browsers.

Actually, you're right. It's not CSS itself that's the problem, it's the DIV/FLOAT/CLEAR approach to layout. DIV/FLOAT/CLEAR is a one-dimensional layout approach. Trying to bash it into doing a 2D cell-like layout is difficult and ugly. Doing three columns in DIV/FLOAT/CLEAR [webmasterworld.com] is a classic hard problem. The DIV mechanism just doesn't have adequate alignment tools. If DIVs could be arbitrarily constrained relative to other DIVs ("Left edge of B must align with left edge of A, above"), DIVs would have more power than tables. But, as currently designed, they have less expressive power than tables.

The limitations of DIV/FLOAT/CLEAR layout lead web 'designers' to use absolute positioning. This leads to pages that look wrong if resized, or worse, text on top of text. Then there are Javascript hacks to put positioning logic onto the web page, which rapidly gets complicated and tends to be buggy.

WYSIWYG tools work much better for tables than for DIV/FLOAT/CLEAR layout. Try Dreamweaver in both modes.

Great CSS (1)

monty019 (1333807) | about 6 years ago | (#24470887)

There is a better book for beginers if you will as far as basic CSS. It is HTML, XHTML, & CSS 6th edition by Elizabeth Castro. This is an excellent reference, one I use almost daily.

Ultimate (4, Insightful)

spottedkangaroo (451692) | about 6 years ago | (#24470963)

Isn't the ultimate reference the definition?

http://www.w3.org/TR/CSS21/ [w3.org]

http://www.w3.org/Style/CSS/ [w3.org]

Re:Ultimate (1)

blackest_k (761565) | about 6 years ago | (#24471195)

no not in the real world, since the interpretation of the standards varies.
broken browsers are not a problem for w3. Everyone else needs working solutions.

Re:Ultimate (1)

xristoph (1169159) | about 6 years ago | (#24475843)

The W3C is a lousy reference, actually, for practical use. I have never been able to find my way around it. Well, I have to say the one mentioned in the original article is pretty good on first look, though the navigability is somewhat limited.
I have to say, though, that I still prefer http://de.selfhtml.org/ [selfhtml.org] - it's a brilliant reference, the only problem being that it's in German and the author never got around to translating it.

Extremely? (1)

mutende (13564) | about 6 years ago | (#24471039)

This book claims to be the ultimate though, and that made me approach it with a bit of skepticism.

The short review uses the word extremely 4 times in just a few paragraphs, and that made me a bit skeptic...

Could the trees used to make this book ... (1)

hal9000(jr) (316943) | about 6 years ago | (#24471229)

to make a stick to beat the web browser architects to sit down in a fricking room and decide once and for all how all this stuff (HTML, XHTML, CSS, etc) will be processed?

I spent the better part of an hour trying to figure out why three divs wouldn't float left properly. Divs worked find in FF and Opera, but not in IE. After searching Google (to no avail, there), I ended up fixing the lowest divs width to a fixed pixel size just to spread it far enough to move it to the proper position. yay.

I am sure FF and Opera have weirdnesses of their own, so this isn't a Microsoft bash.

Why use CSS for simple websites? Seriously? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24471485)

I can design a web page in Photoshop. Once designed, I can slice it up, export to HTML, all in 5 minutes. Why would I need CSS except for text look and feel? 1) Oh look, you have to make one or more separate CSS files or exceptions to handle IE6, IE7 or other "bad" browsers? I'm sorry, my little Photoshop sclice-based website is fully compatible! How long does it take you to make a CSS based site again? More than my slice based site? 2) Is my little pixel and table based website for you loading too slowly? Then it must be 1998 and you must be used to designing for those machines and internet speeds. Pixel spacers used for tabular layout work just fine on most machines and internet speeds in 2008. I can tweak my slice-based site to add alt tags where necessary, but the difference in loading time for a slice-based site is negligible. 3) I'm sorry that your client, who asked for a website designed that they can edit easily and manually, has such a problem working with your nifty CSS-based layout in Dreamweaver or any other similar program. It's not their fault that CSS as a basis for web page layout sucks for the average user or designer and that it is non-intuitive. But it's all about "web standards", right? CSS is great for 1) Text look and feel 2) Websites meant to be viewed on anything other than a PC or by the handicapped 3) Certain types of search engine compatibility 4) Larger sites that change their design on a regular basis. But for Joe Schmuckatelli's little Real Estate website or Restaurant website, table layouts work just fine.

Re:Why use CSS for simple websites? Seriously? (1)

madprof (4723) | about 6 years ago | (#24472133)

Sounds great for sites with 3 pages. Would like to know how you cope with 10 or so. Do you use a template? What about when the time comes to change the heading on each page?
OK professional web developers get this all the time and your method would never work in a professional environment, although you probably know this.
It is surprising how many people use Photoshop for design without having used anything better, simply because they didn't realise that there *was* anything better.

Re:Why use CSS for simple websites? Seriously? (1)

hal9000(jr) (316943) | about 6 years ago | (#24472843)

What you are doing is not very modular and would be difficult to modify at a later date. Yes, you can use Photoshop for small sites that won't change often, but for anything with even simple dynamism, static publishers like that are difficult.

I hear you on using tables for placement. Heck, alot of sites still do because there is no question how tables are rendered, but from a development perspective, tables and nested tables are a bitch to maintain.

You can do all that stuff with CSS, easier once you learn it and it's tweaks.

I do alot of development with php, so keeping the HTML light and using CSS for styling makes perfect sense. I don't fully understand MVC, so I can't say I have gone that far, but once you learn to seperate content from layout, maintenance is so much more efficient.

Also, in professional shop, you often have a dev team and a design team. Using HTML for mark-up and CSS for styling lets each team work more or less independently. So there are lots of reasons to use CSS.

Another CSS Reference (1)

wizzahd (995765) | about 6 years ago | (#24471591)

One of my favorite CSS resources is http://culturedcode.com/css/reference.html [culturedcode.com] . It's similar to the book's website but a bit more lightweight.

important (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24471625)

Okay slashdot. This will fuck you up:
important==!important

Importance. A CSS Godsend. How else could I have made Remedy look beautiful prior to 6.0?

Also, I am am drunk and anonymous, a position most would envy.

I'm still waiting (1)

Snaller (147050) | about 6 years ago | (#24471695)

I'm still waiting for a book about how CSS destroyed the web. Before that, I could scale webpages and read it all - then the army of idiots from newspaper marched in with their expectation of WYSIWYG and started using absolute font sizes all over.

Re:I'm still waiting (1)

jedrek (79264) | about 6 years ago | (#24472751)

You're kidding, right? Any browser worth its salt will resize absolute font sizes by %.

./list_favs && LANG=de selfhtml (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24472159)

If this was a question in disguise:
For the german speaking croud, I think SelfHTML [selfhtml.org] with it's part about CSS is a very usable reference, apart from the above mentioned [slashdot.org] W3C specifications.

Other useful material consists of diverse articles on A List Apart [alistapart.com] and meyerweb [meyerweb.com] ; and many bits and pieces can be found on Listamatic [maxdesign.com.au] , BlueRobot [bluerobot.com] and Zen Garden [csszengarden.com] , just to mention a few of my favourites.
Oh, and don't forget to search the web for those cheat sheets needed for IE 6 and other old browsers.

Save yourself the pain and use Yahoo! UI Library (2, Interesting)

everynerd (1252610) | about 6 years ago | (#24472161)

They supply a framework [yahoo.com] for developing layouts that will work for all browsers while you only have to specify the basic details. The framework takes care of the rest. Stop worrying about which browser you are going to work with and get a framework that gets the groundwork written. Everything is taken care of for you. Then you can style the page how you want without worrying if users of IE 4 can view it.

Re:Save yourself the pain and use Yahoo! UI Librar (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about 6 years ago | (#24473045)

Yeah if you want to be a complete tool and hints of yahoo's name in all your id and classes.

CSS isn't so hard that I'm going to use a framework. I've written enough CSS that I can go back and reuse what I've already made. Most IE hacks are in separate files and can be reused quite quickly. That alone solves a lot of the problems.

Re:Save yourself the pain and use Yahoo! UI Librar (1)

everynerd (1252610) | about 6 years ago | (#24474311)

Nobody said it was difficult, but why do something that's done for you? You can boo yahoo all you want, but if you're developing a site the last thing you want to do is waste precious development time trying to tweak for every browser on the planet. No point re-inventing the wheel, doing that makes you a complete tool.

pictures/diagrams (1)

fragbait (209346) | about 6 years ago | (#24472763)

The key thing is this book is illustrated. Often, I'd rather see the snippet and the picture of what it would do rather than read the official spec. That isn't to say that the spec shouldn't be read. Saying that anyone wanting to learn CSS should start with the W3C spec is like referring someone who wants to learn C to the BNF describing the C language.

Start out being a student then head to becoming the master. If you communicate with others in the most abstract way (W3C spec, even with its examples), then they won't want to communicate with you no matter how smart you are.

-fragbait

CSS is not yet about features (2, Interesting)

scarlac (768893) | about 6 years ago | (#24472911)

Writing a comprehensive book on CSS is not an issue, and really... W3C has a nice homepage that is actually quite well indexed on Google.

Having a few years of experience I feel that any *practical* CSS book will focus on how a few key aspects with the web as it is today:
* What should be possible by todays accepted standards (css = 2.1)
* What is actually possible (things like text-shadow is only supported by safari (and some other more niché browsers))
* How your CSS can degrade beatifully in order to support IE 6 and still take advantage of the new features
* A couple of "watch out" to avoid common IE6/7 CSS issues such as "don't use both padding and width/height due to ie's box model", "float + margin = double margin" and other common guidelines.
* Common techniques like "sliding doors" for round corners and other nice tips to make effective use of the actual commands.

Well anyway.. Those are the things I would focus on in my book. I find writing a beginners guide or just a reference is redundant. CSS is practial - most developers usually learn it on a need-to-know basis.

Missing the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24472943)

The book is on DESIGN, not the technical aspects of CSS. It is aimed at developers who already know what they are doing but perhaps need inspiration or ideas to make sites that look good.

Have a look at csszengarden.com, a site run by the author. You won't learn how to do that from google queries, that's for sure!

Two points.. (1)

dk.r*nger (460754) | about 6 years ago | (#24473813)

Item one: "Something as simple as modifying a WordPress blog".. What? Since when is that in the category "simple"? If you do web-stuff, you need CSS, if you do Linux kernel programming you need C. It has nothing to do with simple.

Item two: Quirksmode [quirksmode.org] .. and in the end, one site to rule them all. Screw books.

Has anyone noticed a trend in these reviews? (5, Insightful)

Jay L (74152) | about 6 years ago | (#24473959)

Maybe it started with the whole idea of "unboxing photos"; I'm not sure. But an awful lot of reviews seem to fall in the "YOU ARE IN A HELICOPTER" bucket: True, but not useful.

This book is published on milled wood fibers, commonly called "paper"; it's a pleasant shade of cream, perhaps a bit brighter than ivory, yet darker than a Rubbermaid white spatula used for comparison. The pages are rectangular, measuring 7.23" x 5.05", with a sharp edge reminiscent of a good Martin-Yale trimmer. (For reference, I have published a picture of an average rectangle below.) The book was published on a 1200dpi offset press, with the plates generated directly from digital content.

Graphically, the book is similar to those we've become used to in the past few centuries. An incremental integer graces the bottom outside corner of every page, allowing one to turn directly to a specific page, if one is able to remember, or otherwise determine, the page number. A so-called "Table of Contents" (or TOC as it's known in the industry) allows you to jump directly to the beginning of a chapter, in conjunctioned with the aforementioned "page number" feature. Additionally, the name of each chapter is printed in italicized lettering opposite each page number, which allows you to remember what chapter you're reading, if you should happen to forget.

Etc...

browser compliance notes for each feature (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24475471)

That alone, as mentioned in the article summary, should be worth quite a bit. That's like getting the index in the back of the book right - it seems like a small thing they should be able to hire a college kid to do over the summer, but it makes a big difference.

No index? FAIL (1)

DrVomact (726065) | about 6 years ago | (#24475805)

There is no proper index for the full book

Really. That makes it completely useless in my book. The only way I ever use a reference is by looking up what I want to know in the index, and going straight there. For a reference book, a table of contents—no matter how detailed—just isn't much use. A good index (and making a good index requires work and skill on the part of the author or editor) allows me to quickly zero in on the topic I have questions about; a table of contents is only a list of what's in the book, which is arranged in a way that made sense to the author—but not necessarily to me.

At work, I find myself using Google and paper references about 30/70 (in favor of paper) when it comes to programming questions. Google helps me ferret out some of the more obscure stuff, and helpful insights by, for example, fellow victims...er...I mean cognoscenti of XSLT. Why do I use paper at all? Well, paper stays open on my desk...I've usually got 3 or 4 references opened up, with pens stuck in important places. Every time I want to google for something, I have to minimize the editor window, pop Firefox, make the query...then I've got about a dozen open tabs, and I forget which is which...then I have to open the editor again and look at my code...ok I guess I use paper because I'm disorganized. And besides, it helps sop up the spilled coffee.

does it mention CSS use in SVG too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24477113)

You can also use CSS in SVG [startpagina.nl]

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