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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on August 26, 2000
This is a good book for learning XHTML. It is not as "programmer-ish" as the other two major contenders (XHTML: Moving toward XML and XHTML Language and Design Sourcebook). Containing both very good examples (yes, there are some mistakes name me a computer book that has none) and some of the best descriptions and graphics of difficult topics I have seen to date, this book illustrates a difficult (relative to HTML) topic well.
I have read through it twice now and paid particular attention to not just the text but the flow as well and must say it is well designed. Yes, I see the incontinuity here and there though I do not believe this is a major issue as it makes its points quite well.
It has excellent coverage of the media tag and also how the whole parsing process is done. As a person who has helped to write courseware for some pretty major companies I understand the challenges in covering a topic like this. It is bound to have some issues here and there as they are basically attacking a moving target. Yes, there is a specification put out by the W3C, but that does not make the topic stand still. If I were to pick one book to begin teaching someone XHTML this would be it. Then I would move on into others, like maybe reading the spec from the W3C itself.
The only caveat I have on recommendation is that this technology is NOT for beginners. One needs a grounding in HTML 4.1 before starting on this book. Go through a book on that first. A good one is the one by Peachpit Press "The Visual Quickstart Guide to HTML 4". Great stuff. You don't need to be an expert to go on to this book, but it would help to have some vocabulary and basic ideas down before reading this book.
Have fun with it and welcome to a new age of web design!
Jim Parshall
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35 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on June 18, 2000
...but I want to make a point to Wrox Press. While the book is a valuable resource in terms of offering a fairly comprehensive overview as is commonly the case with the Beginning... series, there are two cases in which there is a glaring lack of professionalism. The most egregious of these is the chapter on FML. One of the authors has a company that produces a software tool that (ostensibly) allows you to make quick work of FML. This author wrote the chapter on FML. Surprise - the entire chapter is about how to use his company's software product. Furthermore, at the beginning of the book there is a passage that is essentially an indictment of Microsoft for alleged anticompetitive practices. I am not used to seeing such abominations as these in titles from Wrox Press; say what you will about Microsoft, the author's software, etc., the point is that none of it has anything to do with the subject at hand, on which Wrox Press typically focuses like a laser. The editors really dropped the ball in a couple place on this one - there were two authors who sorely needed to be kept in check.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on February 2, 2002
It is not for utter beginners. You need to know something about HTML and the Web before reading this book. That being said, it does a wonderful job of explaining XHTML, introducing XML and explaining where XHTML came from, and describing CSS. It also throws in a basic introduction to JavaScript and has a chapter on Mozquito, a program for producing XHTML Forms right now. The appendices are not reiterations of the book and are invaluable. For myself, the best appendix is the one on the XHTML DTDs. They clearly explain which element is supported by which DTD -- something which is not easy to find on the Web.
My critiques of this otherwise fine book are as follows:
1. It tries to cover too many topics.
For instance, the basic introduction to JavaScript was unnecessary, especially in light of the fact that Wrox publishes an excellent tutorial on the subject entitled Beginning JavaScript. The chapter on Mozquito is completely irrelevant to a person trying to learn XHTML. It's like trying to stick a chapter on Dreamweaver into an HTML book: it just doesn't belong.
2. It lacks an appendix on the XHTML character entities.
It's not a tragedy, but it is annoying since the character entities are just as much a part of XHTML as its elements and attributes are.
Despite these criticisms, I highly recommend this book, especially to anyone interested in making their Web sites "forward compatible." Fortunately, the book can work both as a reference and a tutorial on XHTML.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on October 24, 2000
Although the title indicates this book is for beginners, there is material of worth for advanced web authors within this volume. Notably, considerable attention is given to XForms and FML (Forms Markup Language). Xforms and FML effectively update the w3c standard for HTML Forms, which has not been ammended since the release of HTML 2.0 in 1994. Xforms and FML enable XHTML authors to build dynamic XHTML applications and allows for modularization of an XHTML documnet, thus a single document has the ability to contain several pages, or cards.
At the forefront of the w3c work on Xforms is Mozquito Technologies who have released an XHTML authoring tool, Mozquito Factory, which allows an author to write interactive forms in FML. Mozquito Factory transforms these FML documents into a JavaScript that can be read by any browser that understands JavaScript. Included in this book is a chapter outling the uses and technology behind the Mozquito Factory.
Additionally, in seperate chapters, this book touches on the use of JavaScript and the Document Object Model within XHTML. As XHTML is the next generation of HTML, the technically correct use of these extensions within XHTML is crucial to the developemnt of creative web applications.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 4, 2002
I am well versed in writing HTML and limited JavaScript, however I have learned all I know through disecting the pages of others. I wanted a book that would give me a more-or-less formal education on correct standards, etc.. for writing XHTML and at the same time introduce me to attributes I wasn't familiar with. This is the book I wanted. It is perfect for anyone wanting to learn XHTML but has no experience with it. It is also perfect for someone wanting to brush up to current standards, or someone looking for a basic reference manual (although I use a Black Book for that). The XHTML examples are throughly explained and easy to follow. The book also includes a full explanation of what XHTML is and why it was developed. The last few chapters deal with a brief, and very fast-paced intro to JavaScript. I think beginners would have a hard time following this part, but it a good jumping point for someone planning to learn JS in the future. If I included the JavaScript chapters in my review I would probably give the book 4 stars. But, as it is an XHTML book, and the JS composes a strong majority of the text, I haven't included it in the rating. If you don't understant the JavaScript, or have no intention of learning it, then don't read that part. The book is well worth the price regardless. As far as the previous one star reviews, I can only attribute this to narrow-mindedness and impatience on the on the part of the reviewers. Take your time, do all the examples, don't skip any paragraphs, and this is the perfect book for beginners.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2002
This book is absolutely wonderful when it comes to introducing XHTML to a web-developer or design student who is already familiar with HTML. It does contain several bugs and on ocassion its examples contradict what's been written in the text of the book. I wouldn't recommend it to the people who're just learning standard HTML.
To those beginners who've trashed a book on a fairly advanced web-design topic, get a book on basic HTML and actually learn it before you decide to learn something which assumes fairly fluent knowledge of HTML syntax, document structure, standards, and CSS.
A tutorial on webmonkey.com may be all you need to create simple HTML documents, but it doesn't cut it as far as being able to go on to more advanced topics and actually know when something may or may not be right in a book. Books aren't there to be the holy grail of <Insert Topic> they're there to give you a concsise, convenient introduction to whatever topic said book happens to cover.

For the rest of you, that know HTML, some CSS, and maybe a little java script and are wanting to move on to XHTML, buy this book. You may also want a companion text on XML. I recommend Elliotte Rusty Harold's XML: Extensible Markup Language. O'Rielly has some very good texts on CSS and JavaScript, which you'll probably want to check into after reading this book.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
When I started reading this book, I knew very little HTML... just what is presented in webmonkey.com's first few tutorials. I wanted a book that would show me how to do much more with HTML, introduce me to JavaScript, would explain where the industry is headed with XHTML, and would serve as a reference afterward.
This is not that book!!!!
The authors don't follow their own rules/guidelines in the examples. Also, they tell you to do things but never explain how. For example, they talk at length about writing code that will "degenerate gracefully" in different browsers but never give ANY clues as to how to do this or any examples to study. They also tell you not to do other things but don't explain how to achieve the same effect with any other technique. For example, they strongly state that tables and frames should NOT be used to structure the layout of the page but they never explain any other way to visually organize your content ACROSS the page.
The book is also filled with typo's, missing words, and code examples that don't work. They have a website for posting corrections; it currently has just three! After submitting one correction to them, I began keeping a list; planning on submitting one giant list when I was finished. By the fourth chapter, I had given up. The list was too long.
The javascript chapters are a joke. They warn the reader that they are going to go at a fast pace and that they only want to give the reader a taste. I already know how to program in several languages so I was able to figure out the examples but I still have no idea how to do anything in javascript.
There is no useful reference in the appendix. There is a brief, one line description of some of the tags and some of their attributes but MANY things are missing. The Style sheet reference is more informative but is filled with errors. The javascript reference isn't a reference at all. It is an eight page overview of some of the built in functions with no explanations.
If you are brand new to computers, this book gives a gentle, if somewhat vague, introduction to HTML and site design concepts in the first half. There are much better books out there for beginners! Try the "dummies" book or the "quickstart guide" by PeachPit if you want a gentle but through introduction.
If you are looking for a book that can serve as a reference for HTML/XHTML, this entire book is a waste of paper; even the index is next to useless. I finally purchased "XHTML in Plain English". That book is a comprehensive, alphabetical reference on both XHTML and CSS, with tutorials on both in the back. If you already know what <html> <head> <title> <body> and <table> mean, I would recommend that book.
I will think long and hard before purchasing another Wrox book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 28, 2001
I know it sounds like a cliche it might even be one. What I really want to say is save your money if you're already familiar with HTML the concepts are about the same and even though it is a good reference it doesn't worth the buck, get a different source there are a lot of good tutorials on the web for example. If you are new to HTML or it is not yet fluent enough, that is a good choice.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is an excellent first text. I hadn't used HTML before, although I understood the principle of <tag>ing. I wanted to learn HTML and, fortunately, I was attracted by this title and browsed it in the bookstore.
I saw that HTML per se was over and that this was the way to go. It was easy for me, having never "done" Web before: I had no bad habits to unlearn.
OTOH, I am not completely 'new' to computers and such. I have been studying computers/language/VBA/hardware as a hobby for several years. So I cannot say whether this text would help a _complete_ newbie, but it took me from no HTML to a certain comfort and a website (where I try to do some of the kinds of things the book taught me).
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone with some knowledge of computing and programming and who wants to start writing for the Web.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on June 19, 2000
This comprehensive, up-to-the-minute text contains a wealth of useful information but it is definitely not for beginners. I would recommend a fairly good knowledge of HTML and some acquaintance with Javascript before reading this book. If you have that background, you will find this book both readable and fascinating.
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