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.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 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.
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