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CSS: The Missing Manual

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the lost-and-found dept.

151

Michael J. Ross writes "Ever since Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) first appeared on the Web scene in the late 1990s, a plethora of books have been written and published that purport to explain how CSS works, and how to make it work for you. So why would any publisher decide that what the technical world needs is yet another CSS book? Perhaps because they have taken a close look at the bulk of those available titles, and found them to be wanting — filled with overly theoretical explanations and sample code that is far too focused on some pet domain of the author. Such books may be adequate for the veteran Web developer, who has the time and inclination to separate the wheat from the chaff. But developers new to CSS need much more approachable material, with clear examples. Perhaps that is the thinking behind CSS: The Missing Manual." Read the rest of Michael's review.

Written by David Sawyer McFarland, CSS: The Missing Manual is published by O'Reilly Media, as part of their Pogue Press series, under the ISBN 0596526873. It first came out in August of 2006. The publisher maintains a Web page for the book, where visitors can find a link to register their copy of the book (does anyone do that?), a page for submitting errata (none yet, as of this writing), a form for posting a review on the O'Reilly site (again, be the first!), and a sample chapter (Chapter 1: Rethinking HTML for CSS) as a PDF file. There are also links for purchasing the book in the U.S. or the UK, and for reading the online version, as a part of O'Reilly's Safari service.

The book's 494 pages are organized into 14 chapters and three appendices, grouped into five parts. In addition, there is an index, as well as a terse but meaty introduction, which even includes a summary of HTML. The humor for which the Missing Manual books are known, begins early, in introduction, though in this case probably not intentionally: Page 9 claims that the book "is divided into four parts," and then lists the five parts. Before commenting upon those five-ish four parts, it should be noted that the table of contents runs seven pages, listing the book's parts, chapters, sections, and subsections. Future editions of the book would benefit from an overview table of contents, similar to those used in an increasing number of technical books, to good effect.

The 14 chapters cover most if not all of the essentials: writing HTML for CSS; creating styles and style sheets; determining what to style; using inheritance; using cascading; formatting text; setting margins, padding, and borders; styling graphics; styling links and navigation bars; styling tables and forms; creating float-based layouts; positioning page elements; creating print stylesheets; and writing maintainable CSS code. The three appendices include a CSS property reference, a discussion of CSS use in Dreamweaver version 8, and a listing of CSS resources to supplement the book.

On the positive side of the ledger, the author does a commendable job of clearly explaining all of the essential topics that the typical developer would need to understand in order to begin developing a robust Web site based on HTML and CSS, or reworking an existing site that is in desperate need of an overhaul. The clear explanations and bite-sized examples demonstrate that David Sawyer McFarland is not only an experienced Web developer, but likely has spent considerable time explaining to others how to do the same — as a writer, trainer, and instructor. This book is not his first, for he has previously written Dreamweaver: The Missing Manual.

One valuable aspect of the book under review, is that McFarland discusses how to overcome the most commonly encountered browser problems, in which Web pages employing CSS are not being formatted as one would expect and as specified in the CSS standards, by misbehaving browsers (that means you, "Internet Exploder"). Moreover, the book is also one of the first to document the significantly enhanced, long overdue, and welcomed CSS support in version 7 of the most commonly used Web browser (yes, we're still looking at you, "Browser by Bill").

The book is one in a series of many so-called Missing Manuals, whose tagline is "The books that should have been in the box," and whose Web site characterizes them as "Warm, witty, and jargon-free, [with] enough clarity for the novice, and enough depth and detail for the power user." In many respects, McFarland's latest contribution matches that description. In addition to the straightforward and yet comprehensive discussions of each topic, the author imbues his writing with a bit of humor, without overdoing it, or trying too hard, as is sometimes seen in other books covering subjects that admittedly can be quite dry.

On the negative side of the ledger, someone — or, more likely, some committee — somewhere along the decision chain, stipulated that almost every page of the book should be formatted so that the outside 1.5 inches, which is the easiest for a reader to see, should be consumed by a mostly empty and useless gutter, the bulk of which is filled with a light gray bar. This pushes the text, which slightly more than 4.5 inches wide, further in, toward the book's binding, and thus more difficult to read. This is true even though O'Reilly has wisely chosen to use RepKover, a flexible lay-flat binding. This exasperating style of layout is not characteristic of O'Reilly's books, which are generally much easier to read, with more sensible margins and often larger font.

One of the first principles taught to those learning Web design, is to avoid using white text on a black background. Such Web pages usually try to appear cool and edgy, but instead often comes off as immature in the eyes of an Internet veteran, and sinister to the Internet newbie. It doesn't work on Web sites, and it doesn't work in Web books. Sadly, O'Reilly chose to use white-on-dark-gray for many of the book's sidebars, making them difficult to read, especially as the sidebar text font size appears to be a bit smaller than that of the regular text.

In a nutshell, the content of this book is excellent, while the presentation of that content leaves much to be desired — ironic for a book focusing on CSS, whose primary purpose is to modularize and simplify presentation, neatly separating it from content. Ranking the content and presentation on a scale of 1 to 10, I would give them 9 and 5, respectively. Yet on balance, just as is true for most Web pages, the content is more important than its layout and other aesthetic considerations. CSS: The Missing Manual is a well-written, lighthearted, up-to-date, and easily accessible guide to modern CSS and how to use it in the real world.


You can purchase CSS: The Missing Manual from bn.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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Now if only (4, Insightful)

thrillseeker (518224) | more than 7 years ago | (#16054824)

*all* browsers implemented it per the W3C standard.

Re:Now if only (4, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 7 years ago | (#16054931)

> *all* browsers implemented it per the W3C standard.

That's what's so beautiful about standards. There are so many implementations to choose from!

Re:Now if only (2, Funny)

hclyff (925743) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055017)

Now if only *all* browsers implemented it per the W3C standard.
Now if only we could make gold out of pig dung.

Anyone wanna bet what's gonna come first?

Re:Now if only (2, Insightful)

8ball629 (963244) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055046)

*cough*IE7*cough*50%*cough*

Re:Now if only (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16055089)

Good luck. It's not like lynx is going to ever care about background color/images, or units in px/em/etc.
Btw, I think lynx is still the best web browser. It gets me the content and spares me the BS. ;-)

Re:Now if only (4, Insightful)

geekwithsoul (860466) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055261)

But that is the great thing about the CSS standard -- if a browser does not support a class of features (i.e. like lynx with graphics and colors), a properly coded and standard compliant page will degrade gracefully. The company website I've designed is 100% standard compliant and not only degrades gracefully, but when viewed in a text-only or PDA browser re-orders the content and navigation so that it is more user-friendly with how people use those browsers.

The problem is the browsers like IE that either only partially implement features or (as is most often the case of problems with IE) implement them in a way that goes against the standard. Then you have to either start throwing in cross-browser hacks, browser specific stylesheets, or change your page design.

I will occassionally get in complaints at our webmaster account about how something doesn't render correctly in a certain browser. My reply usually includes some boilerplate about how our site is coded to support a standard, and not specific browsers. If the browser supports the standard correctly, you've got no problems. If the browser is like lynx and doesn't support CSS at all, again no problem and the pages are semantic XHTML so we make thorough use of heading tags and similar 'built-in' context indicators. If you use a browser that doesn't implement the standard correctly, on your head so be it!

Re:Now if only (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055384)

The problem is the browsers like IE that either only partially implement features or (as is most often the case of problems with IE) implement them in a way that goes against the standard. Then you have to either start throwing in cross-browser hacks, browser specific stylesheets, or change your page design.

Yeah, browsers like IE, such as Firefox.

Just as an example that's on my mind right now, Mozilla does not properly support display: inline-block;. There are two alternate proprietary display properties, -moz-inline-block and -moz-inline-block. Neither one is quite right, but -box is the one that you have to use for inline-block if you want it to behave properly.

IE bones more of the more obvious things and makes extremely egregious errors (hence the box model hacks etc) but it seems to have better behavior for a lot of other CSS properties. Very odd.

Re:Now if only (2, Informative)

Kelson (129150) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055996)

Just as an example that's on my mind right now, Mozilla does not properly support display: inline-block;. There are two alternate proprietary display properties, -moz-inline-block and -moz-inline-block. Neither one is quite right, but -box is the one that you have to use for inline-block if you want it to behave properly.

Almost, but not quite right.

It isn't that Mozilla doesn't properly support inline-block, it's that Mozilla doesn't support inline-block. Those proprietary display properties exist precisely because they don't quite match what inline-block is supposed to do.

Mozilla has followed similar paths with opacity and outline. While they had preliminary code, they used the proprietary rules -moz-opacity and -moz-outline in order to avoid creating an incompatible implementation. Once they had it working right, they switched over to the standard properties.

Re:Now if only (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16056037)

It's true that neither -block or -box is precisely the same as inline-block. -box just comes closest. And why have two proprietary display values, and not support the ones that are supposed to be there? Instead of fixing them, they were just renamed? (I imagine the actual answer is that both of them are candidates for inline-block, and one of them will become it...) But anyway, half the point is that if you need inline-block, you can get almost the right thing the other way, and the other half the point is that there's no inline-block support, which makes the baby jesus cry.

Re:Now if only (3, Informative)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 7 years ago | (#16056083)

And why have two proprietary display values, and not support the ones that are supposed to be there?

Because inline-block isn't supposed to be there. Not yet. The inline-block property was a proprietary Internet Explorer property. It has been added to CSS 2.1, but that specification is not yet finished - it's a working draft. So far, no finished W3C specification includes inline-block, it's still a non-standard Microsoft extension.

Now if only-Fun with standards...bodies. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16055186)

"*all* browsers implemented it per the W3C standard."

Will that be before or after we get through making fun of the W3C?

Re:Now if only (1)

rthille (8526) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055258)

Unfortunately, that would require that someone go back in time and have Tim Berners Lee implement CSS in 'WorldWideWeb.app' on NeXTStep. In which case, we probably still wouldn't have the WWW...

New users (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16054860)

But developers new to PROGRAMMING need much more approachable material, with clear examples.

There, fixed it for you. For everyone else, there's the W3C [w3c.org] .

I Use Google (1)

neonprimetime (528653) | more than 7 years ago | (#16054874)

writing HTML for CSS; creating styles and style sheets; determining what to style; using inheritance; using cascading; formatting text; setting margins, padding, and borders; styling graphics; styling links and navigation bars; styling tables and forms; creating float-based layouts; positioning page elements; creating print stylesheets; and writing maintainable CSS code.

Granted, I probably learned all of this in CS101, but if I need to remember how to do something, I typically perform a google search instead of paging thru a "missing manual". But, for those that prefer paper, this looks good.

Keep in mind... (5, Insightful)

bjk002 (757977) | more than 7 years ago | (#16054930)

For you and others like you, there are those who read through all these manuals cover to cover, figure it all out, and answer all the forum questions so that you may "google it".

Re:Keep in mind... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16055208)

For you and others like you, there are those who just happen to know everything, write it all down, and sell it to you so that you may "read it".

Re:Keep in mind... (1)

partenon (749418) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055246)

For some reason, I imagine you read every tech book you find in a bookstore, so you can answer other's questions on forums, and then, I can google for it.

Look, I'm a programmer, specialized on coding the "server-side" of web applications (usually, there are designers helping me on client-side). I don't need to be an expert on CSS*, so, if I need a quick answer about a CSS problem, where do you think I'll start looking for? Just to be a bit clear: don't you, as a good programmer, google for "ORA-1337" oracle errors? Or did you read oracle DBA books cover to cover just because you'll be the one who will answer this kind of question on forums?

* But yes, I usually read about and practice CSS/HTML/Javascript, just because *I* think a *web* developer should know that.

Hellz yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16055567)

10x dood, U rox bro!!1

Re:Keep in mind... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16055706)

For you and others like you, there are those who read through all these manuals cover to cover, figure it all out, and answer all the forum questions so that you may "google it".


This presupposes that most useful content originates in print media. I'd suggest that increasingly the opposite is true, which is why even writers for print media are sounding its death knell.

Re:Keep in mind... (2, Insightful)

TheOtherChimeraTwin (697085) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055708)

Very true. Unfortunately when I find my exact question, the most common answer I find is "why don't you google before you ask your question?" Good thing there are manuals!

Re:I Use Google (2, Insightful)

DaveWick79 (939388) | more than 7 years ago | (#16054977)

I use google most of the time as well, but there are quite a few users who would prefer to have something organized and indexed in book form than to weed through several pages of google search results. There is something easier about pulling a book off the shelf, finding the section on print stylesheets for example, and having everything about it right there on the page to reference while you are hammering away at the keyboard...

Googling or books (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055591)

There is something easier about pulling a book off the shelf, finding the section on print stylesheets for example, and having everything about it right there on the page to reference while you are hammering away at the keyboard...

That's why I have my bookshelf where I can reach out and grab a book without getting out of my chair or leaving the desk. Occasionally I'll google for an answer but I prefer a book with a good table of contents and index, it's usually when I don't have the book or the table or index is poor when I'll google.

Falcon

Re:I Use Google (2, Insightful)

suggsjc (726146) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055014)

Agreed.

However, there are still lots of people that like print. Plus, it is very convenient to have it all in one place. There are great CSS sites, but they usually only cover a few aspects, and even fewer very well. So, for true newbs having a single place to get "all the details" could be beneficial.

Speaking of googling for technical info (or really anything), while it is obvious to some (most /. readers) **how** to search. It goes completely over others heads. For instance, I know that if I was getting a wierd error with a cryptic message I would just google the program name and the error message or the error code, then filter through the first 10-50 results (usually nothing good after that). While other people don't even have a clue...you tell them to google it and they type something like "error when clicking button at top gives popup that says [cut and past entire message]"

All that to say, print isn't dead it just serves a differnt role than it used to.

Ahh (4, Funny)

dduardo (592868) | more than 7 years ago | (#16054884)

Now I know why IE has such bad CSS support. The IE team lost their copy of the CSS manual!

Now that is has been found, they can get back to work.

Re:Ahh (1)

fatmacman (726739) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055196)

Naaa... everyone knows Microsoft only uses voodoo when composing web browser code and that the underlying foundations of IE have nothing at all to do with the rest of reality... a manual? maybe they could use it as kindling for thier sacrificial fires as they conjure up the next baffling patch.

Now I know why IE has such bad CSS support. (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055630)

The reason the Windows IE had such bad CSS support was because they didn't work with the Mac IE team. IE 5 for the Mac had better css support than any Windows IE, except maybe IE 7?

Falcon

Re:Now I know why IE has such bad CSS support. (2, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055788)

The reason the Windows IE had such bad CSS support was because they didn't work with the Mac IE team. IE 5 for the Mac had better css support than any Windows IE, except maybe IE 7?


Well, IE 7 reportedly only supports 50% of the CSS standard, so if Mac IE 5's CSS standard is worse than than IE 7's, then it would still be pretty awful.

Re:Now I know why IE has such bad CSS support. (2, Informative)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055916)

Well, IE 7 reportedly only supports 50% of the CSS standard, so if Mac IE 5's CSS standard is worse than than IE 7's, then it would still be pretty awful.

IE 5 for the Mac supported xhtml, ECMAScript, nearly all of CSS1, much of CSS2, and most of the DOM according to Jeffrey Zeldman [zeldman.com] . So, I guess IE 7 doesn't support standards as much as IE 5 for Macs did.

Falcon

Re:Ahh (2, Funny)

6Yankee (597075) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055852)

There's an acronym for IE's CSS "support": WYSIWTF

Damn (4, Funny)

Winckle (870180) | more than 7 years ago | (#16054898)

I was hoping for a book to help my FPS gaming :(

Re:Damn (1)

SeanFromIT (990059) | more than 7 years ago | (#16054961)

Counter Strike: Source...the missing manual...lol

Re:Damn (2, Funny)

blackholepcs (773728) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055140)

Well, if your a twitch gamer, you can improve your twitch with any good porno book. One hand at a time, or both at the same time if your pretty well endowed. Of course, being as this is /., I have to assume that your vertical twitch rate is already nearing escape velocity.

Re:Damn (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055369)

Try looking under strategy guides instead of web standards (or lack thereof).

Re:Damn (1)

I Like Pudding (323363) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055488)

When you can remove the mouse from my hand, it is time for you to leave

The best CSS manual (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16054925)

Here is the best manual, from W3C themselves:

http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-CSS2/ [w3.org]

Re:The best CSS manual (1)

Carewolf (581105) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055426)

That one is quite bad though. It is so bad in fact that the edited corrected version of it (CSS2.1) is still not considered good enough for release.

Re:The best CSS manual (2, Informative)

soliptic (665417) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055514)

Obviously I can't argue with the spec as being definitive in theory, but in practice I find this the best manual:

http://dezwozhere.com/links.html [dezwozhere.com]

When I give people this link in response to CSS queries, I'm fond of adding "if you can't answer your CSS question within three clicks of that page, your question has no answer (or you chose the wrong three clicks)".

Welcome to my hell. (5, Informative)

iiii (541004) | more than 7 years ago | (#16054936)

CSS is a great idea, but doing it in practice blows because the browsers vary so much in their implementation.

The most useful thing I have found to help is QuirksMode Browser Compatability Tests [quirksmode.org] . I think this guy is insane to have spent so much time testing every single feature in (nearly) every browser, but it is very, very useful to see exactly which browsers support what.

Re:Welcome to my hell. (2, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055013)

CSS is a great idea, but doing it in practice blows because the browsers vary so much in their implementation.

I actually find CSS to be very simple in practice, for automated styling and real world use with one caveat: I don't support IE. Seriously. I just follow the spec and it looks great in every browser out there, Firefox, Opera, Safari, whatever. For IE I make sure it sensibly degrades to plain, unformatted hypertext with a note that IE is broken and users should upgrade to any other browser.

Re:Welcome to my hell. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16055048)

Must be nice to not have to maintain public-facing pages for a large company, or otherwise actually be in the web business.

Re:Welcome to my hell. (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055170)


Must be nice to not have to maintain public-facing pages for a large company, or otherwise actually be in the web business.


Yes. Very. *shudder*

Re:Welcome to my hell. (2, Interesting)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055213)

Must be nice to not have to maintain public-facing pages for a large company, or otherwise actually be in the web business.

True. The network security industry usually won't touch IE with a 10 foot pole. We had a really critical IE bug in one of our Web UIs and no one found it for more than a year, until someone used a legacy machine in their testbed as a convenient terminal.

The sad thing is, if all the major companies would pledge to adhere to Web standards and use them along with the aforementioned download link, the problem would probably go away in short order as everyone would switch or MS would be under too much very public pressure and would fix IE.

Re:Welcome to my hell. (3, Interesting)

Siberwulf (921893) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055276)

I personally don't think pain is going to bring about change. I work in the web business and develop .NET applications. The actual functionality isn't an issue across browsers, but yeah the apps I make break in FF, Opera and Safari.

That said we can't afford to not cater to IE users. They make up over 95% of clients. I haven't yet heard a complaint or seen some feedback come through our form stating "omg I gotta use IE!!!"

Re:Welcome to my hell. (3, Informative)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055461)

I personally don't think pain is going to bring about change.

But you'll never know because you will bend to MS's lock-in strategy.

The actual functionality isn't an issue across browsers, but yeah the apps I make break in FF, Opera and Safari.

Umm, then yeah it's an issue.

That said we can't afford to not cater to IE users. They make up over 95% of clients.

You must have an unusual site then. Most sites and statistical studies show all versions of IE combined at about 80% of Website hits. As for affording to not cater to them, it all depends upon how you market it to customers and the type of site you run. A simple, "This Web page uses advanced Web 1.5 features from the 1998 standards. Your current browser is out of date and may be insecure. Click here to upgrade if you want to view all formatting properly." might be viewed as a feature, rather than a nuisance, especially if a coalition of major sites decided to do it all at once, so they would no longer have to pay double the development costs to reach the whole market.

I haven't yet heard a complaint or seen some feedback come through our form stating "omg I gotta use IE!!!"

Really do you track that? I know I used to complain when any company I did business with tried to make me use IE only, although now there are more options for everything so I normally just assume they are incompetent and probably clueless. Given that, I don't want to trust any data to them, so I just go elsewhere. Try monitoring the number of hits you get using alternative browsers, which then don't hit again with IE from the same IP address. It is not hard with some basic statistical trackers that you can grab for free. You might be surprised how much business you're losing. The other issue is, alternative browsers often represent the more affluent parts of society. Apple laptops accounted for 20% of laptop sales last month and almost all of them will be using Safari. How many of those people are the ones with lots of disposable income? As I said before, it all depends upon what type of sites you make.

Personally, I'm very happy I no longer have to bother working around all of IE's failures. It has cut my workload down to less than half of what it was. I just wish everyone could have the same easy development I do, without having to worry about anything but clearly documented standards.

Re:Welcome to my hell. (1)

killjoe (766577) | more than 7 years ago | (#16056131)

Your customers may not be complaining but they may be walking away. Telling 5% (more like 15% for me) of your customers to fuck off is not such a good idea.

Hell can be bearable... (3, Insightful)

WebCowboy (196209) | more than 7 years ago | (#16056134)

...provided you remember to pack your SPF100 sunblock and plenty of water.

Must be nice to not have to maintain public-facing pages for a large company

Yes, it is quite nice not have to maintain such a site, since most "public-facing pages for a large company" are notoriously and unnecessarily complicated and standards-broken. Furthermore, it is false to say that these sites are broken becasue they must cater to IE. It is in fact the other way around--IE is broken because of the incompetence or (false) laziness, impatience and hubris of the designers and maintainers of these big public sites. MS is to blame for applying sinister "embrace and extend" strategies to its product, however by far the primary responsibility for the current messy state of affairs lies squarely with the codemonkeys who vomit forth the tag soup that all too often continues to pass for web pages today.

Let me explain: when then-leading Netscape introduced nonstandard extensions to HTML, or incorrectly or poorly implemented the standard, rather than report it as a bug web authors actually EMBRACED these quirks rather than working around them or otherwise ignoring them. For example, early web developers heavily abused non-semantic and sometimes annoying proprietary tags like CENTER and BLINK, and went as far as to do atrocious things like nest their content in multiple BODY tags with different BGCOLOR attributes to do useless crap like fading and flashing the screen. The result of this was to not only let Netscape neglect bugs, put to put pressure on Netscape to RETAIN the bugs so as to remain "compatible" with such perverse tag soup!

The phenomenon proved to be viral--in the interests of matching leader Netscape's "feature" set, Microsoft went ahead and emulated all that malarky on purpose in IE! Furthermore, MS realised that nonstandard extensions were rather easily embraced by stupid lazy tag soup codemonkeys. This was a great opportunity to embrace and extend the WWW with such atrocities as ActiveX OBJECTs and heavy promotion of CSS-like styles long before the CSS standard was established. The latter action was particularly incideous because it allows MS to say that they "support standards" when in fact they sabotage them. Rather than warning web authors to use caution with stylesheets until the CSS style was standardised, they went ahead and made sure it was getting well established so that when changes were made to their proposal for CSS was modified by the W3C. By doing that they ensured that their own inconsistent application of CSS would be the de-facto standard and they could let slide any fixes to *actually* follow standards.

So please, make your best effort to break this evil cycle and do NOT design for IE. This doesn't mean that you should let your site break IE or make it look crappy--what it means is do NOT use IE during development without regard to standards then worry about degrading gracefully in other browsers. Instead use FF or another more compliant browser during development, and regularly validating your code using the W3C validation tools. THEN, when you test against IE (this is the real world, so you can't ignore it as the grandparent post implies) you make sure it degrades GRACEFULLY in IE, and do it WITHOUT relying on sneaky CSS bugs and breaking standards.

Yes, you CAN write totally valid XHTML and CSS that looks attractive and retains enough functionality in IE to satisfy your audience. Here are some approaches I have taken in the past:

* Avoid the use of CSS features that are standards but not widely implemented in IE or other mainline browsers, at least for important presentational aspects (anything more than eye candy).

* Do NOT strive to make the page appear or function fully and exactly the same in IE as other browsers--just make sure it doesn't look "broken" in IE. MS has deliberately "dumbed down" their pages for non-IS browsers in the past (even when other browsers were perfectly capable of handling the page as designed for IE). Given that track record it makes no sense to bend over backwards to be inclusive---tit for tat I say, so long as IE viewers aren't missing actual content. Ignorant IE users will be blissfully unaware of the bling they are missing.

* To minimise grief in IE, make sure you use compliant CSS *AND* (x)HTML, including the DTD! By doing so you switch IE out of "quirks mode" into (broken) "standards mode". This mode is a lot less forgiving than the "quirks" tag-soup parser on HTML, however it'll help you write better HTML. Furthermore, in "standards mode" CSS is much closer to the standards for such things as the box mode and so on (even if it is still very broken).

* DO place discrete but conveniently-placed download links to alternative browsers so that ignorant IE users have the opportunity to educate themselves. Do NOT place a big garish Firefox banner or use browser-sniffing to exclude IE or make immature comments like "This page looks bad becasue IE sucks: download Firefox NOW". Don't even say "This page is designed for browser X". Your page is NOT designed for browser X, it is designed to COMPLY WITH STANDARDS and is designed for EVERYONE. If you must make a statement adjacent to the FF download link do not make such exclusionary statements; instead opt for tastefully advocating the alternative such as "Try Firefox: Free, fast and full featured". Regular IE visitors who switch will be pleasantly surprised by the enhanced appearance rather than feel slighted.

This is all subtle but effective promotion of alternative browsers and (more importantly) STANDARDS. There are too many ignorant folks out there that assume you cannot make a pretty, cross-browser website without breaking standards and employing dirty tricks. That is completely false! Thankfully more and more content developers are becoming defenders of standards and MS has actually started to listen (IE7, though far from perfect, is much improved. Visual Studio is making much better behaved ASP.NET apps and "Expressions Web Designer" is a long overdue and much more standards-friendly replacement for the steaming pile o' crap known as FrontPage). Perhaps there is still hope yet for a more sane and healthy WWW ecosystem.

Re:Welcome to my hell. (1)

nightcrawler.36 (892551) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055187)

You're not serious, are you? if you're developing for a large company you almost always have to support IE--like it or not. I've developed for several large companies and all heavily rely on Microsoft tools. Some of the users that I support have never heard of Firefox or are even aware that there is a rift between browsers. Their page needs to display on a browser *period*. CSS looks different on both so I HAVE to develop for IE because that what most users have and know.

Re:Welcome to my hell. (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055270)

You're not serious, are you? if you're developing for a large company you almost always have to support IE--like it or not.

The pages are for paying customers, not our public Website. Most of them are accessible from within a Web UI for a product we sold them. The pages are viewed by network security experts at enterprise and major ISPs, not Bob Smith looking to buy something online from his home computer. None of these people really use IE. We had a major bug making one of our UIs unusable in IE and no one noticed for over a year.

CSS looks different on both so I HAVE to develop for IE because that what most users have and know.

In my experience, CSS is broken in IE and works in all other browsers. I actually think if major companies simply agreed to support Web standards and provide a disclaimer and download links, the problem would fix itself very quickly as customers moved to browsers that function properly and MS scrambled to fix IE. The problem is, developers are too scared to lose money from customers who won't upgrade (rightfully so). And since Web developers are divided Microsoft gets away with their castration of the Web and causing huge additional costs for Web developers.

Re:Welcome to my hell. (3, Insightful)

Scarblac (122480) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055285)

If you don't support IE, you're not talking about "in practice."

Re:Welcome to my hell. (1)

Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055387)

... because all the world's mass-market software.

Re:Welcome to my hell. (4, Interesting)

soliptic (665417) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055589)

Actually I can go one better than that, I think.

I follow the standards and still have it looking decent in IE. I never use "IE hacks" (as in deliberately malformed statements or comments), and I never use browser detection (both are basically a bit retarded imho) -- but I can still get the pages to look OK in IE, served exactly the same (validated) CSS.

There are just a few caveats:
  • Be prepared to abandon hope of absolute pixel-level control over everything. Seriously, if you want that, go into print design, that's not how the web works.
  • (Sometimes this one works as an OR to the above point...) Fix the box model by adding an extra non-semantic div. Simple as that. Voila, no more broken box model, but no invalid CSS full of Tantek hacks [tantek.com] either. I don't know why more webdesigners are so against this. Banging on about favouring standards, yet they'd rather deliberately break (invalidate) their own CSS than add a single non-semantic wrapper div? I never quite grasped that. The broken IE box model is responsible for the vast majority of places where pixel-accurate control breaks down between IE and, well, the rest. Of course, it doesn't help fix your 3-pixel jog [positioniseverything.net] (for example), but it certainly cuts out the biggest offenders.
  • Be prepared to lose a few bells and whistles - for example, no :hover pseudoclass on arbitrary elements. So you can't have table cells that change color as you mouseover. This is pure candy though, so I'm prepared to "not support" IE in this regard. The overall layout/style is exactly the same, so it's not like I'm making IE degrade to "plain, unformatted hypertext" as you suggest - just they miss a few tiny "cherry on top" effects.
  • (Again this is a bit of an OR to the previous point) - use javascript. For example, get the effect of arbitrary :hover by using suckerfish [htmldog.com] javascript techniques.
And before anybody asks, yes, I do maintain public-facing web pages for a large organisation.

Admittedly our main website is horrible non-standards HTML4 with patchy use of hack-filled CSS, but I didnt design it, and I can't fix it because even when I enter valid markup, our lousy CMS (built firmly on the MS stack with the MS toolchain, just to feed your prejudices) will bodge it up for me. Grrr.

But the new microsites I design are 100% standards compliant and they look 99% the same in IE or Moz/etc. My management wouldn't have it any other way.

Re:Welcome to my hell. (1)

antiWack (1000628) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055231)

In practice, it definitely does not blow. If you know how to code properly and comply with standards set by w3c, IE has minimal problems. I have to say that IE does suck and doesn't have enough CSS support, but it's not bad enough for you to fairly say that CSS is not worth implementing. If you are having major problems with getting your CSS to work the same in all browsers, the problem is you. The problems IE has are fairly easy to work around. Again, if you are having major problems, your code must not be up to par with w3c's standards. Semantics are also very important. Do you code with semantics in mind?

Re:Welcome to my hell. (2, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055474)

In practice, it definitely does not blow. If you know how to code properly and comply with standards set by w3c, IE has minimal problems.

The fact that IE doesn't know where various pieces of CSS (like margins and borders) are supposed to be rendered and calculated pretty much puts the lie to your comment.

Re:Welcome to my hell. (1)

antiWack (1000628) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055582)

Are you aware that the new slashdot design was made using CSS? Looks fine to me...

Re:Welcome to my hell. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055696)

Are you aware that the new slashdot design was made using CSS? Looks fine to me...

Your argument is that since slashdot uses CSS, and since slashdot looks good, IE handles CSS properly?

I'm not entirely sure which logical fallacy this is, but I think it's the "Deductive Fallacy".

Re:Welcome to my hell. (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055775)

Or it's a basic site. I have a compliant page (still in-the-works) that looks just about identical in Safari and Firefox. And as far as positioning goes, it's pretty much the same in IE. The main issue I've had thus far is that some sort of custom border around the legend tag works properly in Safari and Firefox, but it decides to just border right through the legend text in IE. Not horrible or unreadable - that's to say, a minimal problem - but still not correct either. Obviously the more complex your code is, the more likely IE is to fuck it up, and it'll probably do so in a much more visible manner as well. Likewise, the tougher the standard you've coded to, the worse IE tends to render it (XHTML Transitional vs Strict, etc). As you would hope, IE doesn't have any issues with 1997 HTML when the tags were simple and the pages devoid of AJAX - it only trips up on newer stuff.

Now to be fair, Firefox doesn't adhere entirely to standards either, or at least not the latest ones. It comes a lot closer, but I won't give it (or any other browswer) that until it'll pass the ACID2 test, which I believe only Safari and Opera do currently. Last I heard, full compliance wasn't slated until Fx 3.0, but that might be incorrect. As it is, the site I'm building looks the same in Fx as in Safari (except for some font odditiy, but I'm not entirely sure I actually set a default font face and size); though while not perfect in IE, it's certainly usable.

Re:Welcome to my hell. (1)

Kelson (129150) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055871)

If you know how to code properly and comply with standards set by w3c, IE has minimal problems.

Given the dismal level of CSS support [webdevout.net] in IE (57% of CSS 2.1 in IE7, compared to upwards of 90% for Firefox 1.5 and Opera 9), it's quite easy to write properly standards-compliant CSS that IE just doesn't understand.

Writing standards-compliant code is a good start, but you also have to do one or more of the following:

  1. Limit yourself to features that are implemented in Internet Explorer.
  2. Accept that IE won't display your page quite the same as other browsers do.
  3. Try to work around the missing functionality, differing interpretations, or bugs such that IE will do what you want. Unfortunately, this often involves adding non-standard code or re-mingling presentation into your content.

Of course, the same is true of any other browser that you choose to support, since no one has managed to cover 100% of the specs, never mind 100% bug-free. But given the much higher levels of support the top ones provide, you're less likely to encounter a showstopping gap in Firefox or Opera's presentation. (It does happen, just to a much lesser extent.)

if you are having major problems, your code must not be up to par with w3c's standards.

See, this is why I like to refer to "specs" rather than "standards." Calling something a specification is unambiguous: it's a document that specifies what something (in this case, a browser) should do. A standard could be, as in W3C standards, a standard way of doing something, or it could be a standard against which something is measured. Standards-compliant code is not code which is "up to standard," but code that follows the standard way of using CSS, HTML, etc. -- well-formed, no errors, not relying on proprietary features, etc. A standards-compliant browser is one which complies with the standard way of displaying CSS, HTML, etc.

EvilML [virtuelvis.com] is a great example of the two meanings of standard: it's standards-compliant, as it's a valid HTML 4.01 Strict document. But I wouldn't consider it "up to standard" in terms of good coding practices, cross-browser or not.

Semantics are also very important. Do you code with semantics in mind?

OK, now you're just being silly. Semantics are great for maintenance, search-friendly sites, and producing clean code, but they're on the content side. CSS is the presentation side. But I suppose you get bonus points for buzzword use.

Re:Welcome to my hell. (1)

PoprocksCk (756380) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055274)

Yeah, I agree with your sentiment mostly. For me, though, the thing that turns me off is the slowdown that seems to occur from most implementations of it that I've come across (*cough* Mozilla *cough*). With pages loaded with fancy CSS, I find myself manually turning styles off in my browser so that I can actually navigate the page.

But, yeah, this has nothing to do with the standard and everything to do with the implementation (for the most part, anyway).

Grumble... (1)

jo42 (227475) | more than 7 years ago | (#16054938)

Too many CSS and Javascript books out there already.

And way too many half-baked blogs out there on both subjects as well.

Where are all the Really Good(tm) books and sites?

Mumblefuhtz...

Re:Grumble... (2, Informative)

antiWack (1000628) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055087)

Books:
The Zen of CSS Design, Eric Meyer on CSS. Two excellent books to get you started. The concept of CSS layout design is the big hurdle, once you figure it out, it's a breeze and quite fun.

Websites
www.w3schools.com - Excellent for html too. Read up here about semantics. http://www.w3.org/Style/Examples/007/ [w3.org] - Something else from W3C. This shows you some stuff you will need once you start getting the concepts of CSS down.

Here's some advice from me: Start with healthy HTML. If your HTML is not valid AND semantic, CSS will be very difficult to learn. If you are not familiar with xhtml semantics, I recommend you spend some time here: http://www.w3schools.com/xhtml/default.asp [w3schools.com] . If your code is not neat and organized, if you are not closing all your tags, CSS will not be nice to you.

Semantics
Using tags for their intended use only, following the rules of the code strictly, etc. You get the idea.

I hope this points you in the right direction!

Re:Grumble... (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055330)

The Zen of CSS Design

How can you mention that book without providing a link to the CSS Zen garden [csszengarden.com] ?

Re:Grumble... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055409)

The concept of CSS layout design is the big hurdle, once you figure it out, it's a breeze and quite fun.

How is the concept of CSS layout hard? It's not even complicated.

Making CSS actually do the things that you want it to, that is hard. Especially since no browser properly handles CSS. NONE. Except maybe Opera, which at least can pass ACID2. Still, if you do anything even slightly complicated with positioning in Mozilla/Firefox/whatever, it will get it wrong. You will have to use hacks.

This is not fun to me.

Re:Grumble... (1)

antiWack (1000628) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055491)

I'm sorry, but I really need to disagree with you. The only browser I've needed to use hacks on is IE. I agree that the concept of CSS layout is not complicated. What I meant was that it's hard to grasp after using tables for many years. They are worlds apart and it can be difficult to think about layout in a different way than you're used to. I also need to disagree with your point that making CSS do what you want it to do is hard. If you really understand it and know it really well, it's incredibly easy. The only real restrictions are one's knowledge of it. People don't give CSS enough credit.

Re:Grumble... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055671)

I'm sorry, but I really need to disagree with you. The only browser I've needed to use hacks on is IE

I think I already talked about this in a response to you, but search around and read up on how Firefox treats display: inline-block; - notably, it fucks up, and you need to use the proprietary value display: -moz-inline-box; to get the behavior you were looking for.

The simple fact is that no browser supports the full CSS spec, even 2.1, and so there are simply things that CSS says you can do that do not work in Firefox. Period. The fact that you've never had to do a hack to get around something in Firefox only means that you have very little experience with esoteric CSS; I ran into this particular issue just today.

Re:Grumble... (2, Informative)

Kelson (129150) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055597)

no browser properly handles CSS. NONE. Except maybe Opera, which at least can pass ACID2.

No, not even Opera. Keep in mind that Acid2 is not a compliance test. It tells you that the browser handles a certain set of HTML, CSS, protocols and errors properly, but it doesn't indicate full and/or proper implementation of any level of CSS.

There's a great set of comparisons at WebDevout.net [webdevout.net] (surf around the site for more detailed tables). Opera 9 is certainly in the lead with 94% of CSS 2.1 by that site's metrics, compared to 90% for Firefox 1.5, 57% for IE7 and 51% for IE6. But none of the browsers makes it to 100%.

Too many choices? (1)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055463)

Too many CSS and Javascript books out there already.

And as we all know, having choices SUCKS!

Seriously, how is this different from any other computer-related topic? There are zillions of Java books, only some of which are useful to you. The book that is useful to me may not be useful to you. There are Missing Manuals, Head Start, Head Rush, Visual Quickstart, Nutshell, Definitive Guide, Cookbook, Hacks, for Dummies, for Smarties, Programmer to Programmer, and many other different styles of computer books. Surely you can find some ReallyGood books somewhere in there.

Would you really only prefer that there be only one or two flavors?

CSS FTW (1)

antiWack (1000628) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055001)

I learned CSS by myself with several books and constant visits to w3schools.com (wonderful site. I 3 W3C!!!!). Assuming this book is what it is advertised as being, it would be a great tool for people new to CSS. I am a web designer and will not touch tables for layout purposes. It is sometimes a pain to deal with how shitty IE is, but it's worth it. Also, if you comply strictly to W3C standards and write your HTML and CSS semantically (if code was food, I'd be an organic health nut), you will have VERY few problems with different browsers displaying things differently. Let's just hope that IE 7 will like CSS more than IE 6! CSS is a wonderful thing that everybody should be using.

Re:CSS FTW (1)

Apocalypse111 (597674) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055030)

Let's just hope that IE 7 will like CSS more than IE 6!

They could make a huge leap forward on this front by making one small change: Turning on the "standards compliant"* mode by DEFAULT!

*I use this term in the loosest possible sense

Re:CSS FTW (1)

thrillseeker (518224) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055199)

Let's just hope that IE 7 will like CSS more than IE 6!

They could make a huge leap forward on this front by making one small change:


rebranding Firefox? ...

Re:CSS FTW (1)

Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055419)

The funny thing is that Microsoft could easily do that, but---predictably---they won't. They're too concerned about their own pride to deliver good products to their customers.

Re:CSS FTW (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16055404)

Even with Firefox and the gang, the browser won't go into standards compliance mode unless you specify an HTML version at the start of the document. That's how the browser know when to be all buggy and when to not.

Re:CSS FTW (1)

Bitsy Boffin (110334) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055933)

Let's just hope that IE 7 will like CSS more than IE 6!


The sad thing is, that even if it does, the take up of IE7 is going to be so slow that IMHO, I expect well over 50% of IE users to still be using IE 6 or lower for years. Even with all the security problems, people continue to use very old versions of IE - because they simply don't care, thier "Internet" works, so why should they change it.

In short, IE 7 getting better support for CSS isn't going to make life any easier for web developers, it's not going to mean we can remove annoyances to work around IE 6 and lower, in fact it's probably just going to create more work, because it's yet another version of IE that we need to test websites in, lord knows there will be new bugs.

missing rule!? (1)

scenestar (828656) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055023)

What about the missing standard compliancy?

Amazon has it cheaper (5, Informative)

heffel (83440) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055059)

As usual, Amazon [amazon.com] has it cheaper than BN ($23.09 vs $27.99)

Re:Amazon has it cheaper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16055312)

Obviously the mods didn't see your referrer link; glad to see you and the missus won't need to eat out of the garbage can tonight.

Big Macs all around!

Re:Amazon has it cheaper (1)

Ripley (654) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055556)

As usual, Amazon has it cheaper than BN ($23.09 vs $27.99)


And Bookpool is even cheaper at $21.95.

Re:Amazon has it cheaper (1)

wfberg (24378) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055800)

Check out the price comparison on ISBN.NU [isbn.nu] . They even let you compare shipping rates. Unfortunately, bookpool (mentioned by a sibling poster) doesn't appear to be listed (for this book at least).

Re:Amazon has it cheaper (1)

SurfCook1 (989041) | more than 7 years ago | (#16056023)

NerdBooks [nerdbooks.com] @ $20.95

Too late. (1)

kennygraham (894697) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055095)

Dvorak already decided we don't need CSS.

Re:Too late. (1)

antiWack (1000628) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055287)

Dvorak is an idiot. He said it doesn't work because he couldn't figure out how to use it. He tried to redesign his blog with it and failed, prompting him to write about how it doesn't work. Just because he can't figure it out doesn't mean it's no good. It's actually quite easy and works far better than tables for layout.

Re:Too late. (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055431)

It's actually quite easy and works far better than tables for layout.

Except that it doesn't do things that tables do. For instance, I can't say that div#1 and div#2, which are next to each other, take up the entire width of the page even though div#1 has a fixed width. You know, like the most common basic page layout with a sidebar and a content area. With tables, I can just create a table with three trs, the header and footer are colspan=2, the width of the center-sidebar table is 200px or whatever, and the width of the content area is "*". Now, I realize that you can emulate it with negative margins, but that's not the same thing.

CSS is a great tool, it lets us do tons of things we could never have done before, but it's not a panacea and it is not without problems. In fact, it is chock full of problems, unless you and all your users are on Opera or something. Second choice, if you and all your users are on the same browser. Nonetheless you cannot simply write valid CSS and have it rendered properly in IE or a Gecko-based browser, once the CSS reaches a certain level of complexity that frankly I don't think is very high.

Re:Too late. (1)

eggsovereasy (573119) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055626)

div#1 { width: 200px; float: left; } div#2 { margin-left: 200px; }

Re:Too late. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055716)

The second div's size will now change if it feels like it, because it does not have a specified width. Those of us who need actual control over our page layout are now snickering at you. This is why the "holy grail" (and the normal two-column liquid layout) over at alistapart use negative margins.

Re:Too late. (1)

mla_anderson (578539) | more than 7 years ago | (#16056112)

The second div's size will now change if it feels like it, because it does not have a specified width.

If you were to read the GP you would find that was exactly what was asked for...those of us who can actually read are now snickering at you.

What's Missing? (1)

hypoxide (993092) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055105)

What would be nice is something like Java's API or Sun's Javascript Reference for CSS. But I really don't see a need for a new book on the matter... googling "CSS" suffices. I kind of feel like this is simply an advertisement for the book. Dan

Re:What's Missing? (1)

hclyff (925743) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055215)

What would be nice is something like Java's API or Sun's Javascript Reference for CSS.
For who would that be? Browser developers? If there were strong enough intend to implement CSS correctly, they would've done it years ago.

For page authors? For them, bottom line is how browsers display their code. To write CSS to the standard is to miss out 90% of viewers. What they really need is book of all the dirty hacks they need to pull out. Not that I think there isn't enough books of this kind already.

Re:What's Missing? (1)

hypoxide (993092) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055447)

To write CSS to the standard is to miss out 90% of viewers.
Hm. I'm not sure about that. Yet I am sure that writing ugly CSS usually has no affect on how it is displayed. Most of my CSS is pretty ugly. :)

googling is fine? (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 7 years ago | (#16056044)

But I really don't see a need for a new book on the matter... googling "CSS" suffices.

Googling for you may be fine but many of us, including me, want hardcopy. For one staring at a long screen of text hurts my eyes and others have the same problem. Two, I learn and retain better by doing. I've been looking for a good book on CSS, one with exercises. I'll then be able to read the book and do the exercises as I read. With a book I won't have to think about eye strain or switching between windows. Simply, I much prefer hardcopy. Oh, and yes I have several websites on CSS bookmarked, though I rarely use them.

Falcon

ObMontyPython (1)

Gospodin (547743) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055157)

Page 9 claims that the book "is divided into four parts," and then lists the five parts.

"And the number of its parts shall be five!"

"Four, sir."

"Four!"

Not another CSS book! (1, Flamebait)

LibertineR (591918) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055177)

Anyone who wants to learn CSS should just get all of the Eric Meyer titles. If you cant learn CSS from his books, then you are just too stupid to learn CSS.

man css (1)

ChrisGilliard (913445) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055203)

# man css
No manual entry for css

Hmmm, guess they were right.

I don't understand (1)

nebaz (453974) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055399)

Why are there so many books about DVD encryption algorithms?

Comma Chameleon (2, Informative)

GreyDuck (192463) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055446)

"The humor for which the Missing Manual books are known, begins early, in introduction, though in this case probably not intentionally..." [...] "This pushes the text, which slightly more than 4.5 inches wide, further in, toward the book's binding, and thus more difficult to read."

Speaking of "more difficult to read," while I'm as big a fan of using commas as the next talentless hack, maybe this review could've done without roughly half of the little buggers that are sprinkled throughout.

Save $4.90 by buying the book here! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16055466)

Save $4.90 by buying the book here: CSS: The Missing Manual [amazon.com] . And if you use the "secret" A9.com discount [amazon.com] , you can save an extra 1.57%!

Who needs a book? (1)

niceone (992278) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055523)

The specs are all on-line [w3.org] .

OK, I'm joking, but it would be nice, wouldn't it?

One of the first principles taught to those learning Web design, is to avoid using white text on a black background. Such Web pages usually try to appear cool and edgy, but instead often comes off as immature in the eyes of an Internet veteran, and sinister to the Internet newbie. It doesn't work on Web sites

Immature and sinister are not always bad things! (I feel I have to stand up for my white on black site, even though I'll just get flamed again).

Re:Who needs a book? (1)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055995)

I just got a new LCD monitor, and for the first time in years I can read white on black. With my ancient CRT I had to select the text and then transfer focus elsewhere to get enough contrast, so it was rarely worth bothering.

CSS Zen Garden (2, Informative)

cruachan (113813) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055727)

Manuals are fine, but most can be replaced by the various excellent websites around - w3schools is mentioned below and I'd agree with that.

However for some inspiration about what CSS can do for you a trip to the CSS Zen Garden at http://www.csszengarden.com/ [csszengarden.com] is worth a thousand pages of dry css scripts. The recently published book 'the Zen of CSS design' is also excellent - http://www.amazon.com/Zen-CSS-Design-Enlightenment -Voices/dp/0321303474/ref=sr_11_1/102-7311422-8694 536?ie=UTF8 [amazon.com] and adds a lot to what's available on the site.

Re:CSS Zen Garden (2, Interesting)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 7 years ago | (#16056117)

Manuals are fine, but most can be replaced by the various excellent websites around - w3schools is mentioned below and I'd agree with that.

Books can't be replace for all people. Though I have Zen Garden bookmarked if I read much I have to have hardcopy to read from otherwise I get eye strained and will get a headache. Looking at little bits and pieces on a screen is alright but longer pages play havoc with my eyes. Also if I'm trying to learn something I much prefer to have a book to go through especially when it's something like this. If I'm doing exercises and have a book I don't need to switch between apps as much as if I google or read off of some website. When I do read a webpage that's too long I have to print it out and read the hardcopy, and I know other people who are the same. And yes, I have Zen Gardens bookmarked. Simply, some do better with hardcopy, such as a book. Now, I'm hoping an lcd display is better.

Falcon

My internet... (1)

Misch (158807) | more than 7 years ago | (#16055765)

The book is one in a series of many so-called Missing Manuals, whose tagline is "The books that should have been in the box,"

My internet didn't come in a box... it came in a tube!

Chapter 13:Displaying tabular data without "table" (5, Funny)

Andrew Tanenbaum (896883) | more than 7 years ago | (#16056115)

I love chapter 13 of this book, which explains how to nest span tags to display tabular data. Finally, web 2.0 is here.
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