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CSS Detective Guide: Tricks for solving tough CSS mysteries, The [Paperback]

Denise R. Jacobs
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 12, 2010 9780321683946 978-0321683946 1
One of the toughest challenges novice CSS developers face is when seemingly perfect code doesn’t translate into a perfectly rendered browser page—and with all the different browsers available today, this happens all too often. The CSS Detective Guide aims to help, by teaching real world troubleshooting skills. You’ll learn how to track clues, analyze the evidence, and get to the truth behind CSS mysteries. These aren’t pat solutions, but rather strategies for thinking about CSS. Author Denise Jacobs begins by going over the basics of CSS with a special emphasis on common causes of problems. Then she shows you methods for giving your code the third degree. Then you’ll take a look at the line-up of usual suspects, the common problems and persistent bugs that are often encountered in CSS.

Finally, you’ll have the chance to play detective and find the guilty culprit in:
  • The Case of the Devilish Details
  • The Case of the Mistaken Identity
  • The Case of the Single White Space
  • The Case of the Float with a Mind of Its Own
  • The Case of the Browser Who Hated Me
  • The Case of the LOL Layout
At the end, you’ll find that you can crack any case and solve any future mystery that you encounter, and your coding problems will become elementary.

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

About the Author

Since teaching herself HTML in 1996, Denise R. Jacobs has worked at creating and maintaining websites, web application localization, web project management, and teaching web design/development. Currently, Denise is a Web Solutions Consultant in Miami, Florida, helping individuals and businesses increase their web knowledge, and transform their web presences by incorporating web standards, web 2.0 tools and social media. She is passionate about teaching novices about the web and empowering them with tools and resources. She is part of the organizing committee of Social Media Club South Florida, and an active member of the Web Standards Project (WaSP) Education Task Force.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: New Riders; 1 edition (April 12, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780321683946
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321683946
  • ASIN: 0321683943
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 7.5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,561,394 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

From the humble start of teaching herself HTML in 1996, Denise R. Jacobs ( & is finally doing what she likes best: being an Author, Speaker & Educator, Web Designer, and Consultant. She develops curricula for the Web Standards Project Education Task Force [WaSP InterAct] (, and is a member of the Social Media Club South Florida organizing committee ( As a Web Solutions Consultant, Denise helps individuals and businesses increase their web knowledge and transform their web presence with handcrafted standards-based code, current web tools, and by incorporating social media.

Check out Denise's book websites: &; and her presentations:

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CSS - The Missing (Detective's) Manual June 16, 2010
"Great, just what the world needs - another book about CSS"

Is what some people *might* think upon learning that there's another CSS resource on the shelves to buy. Heck, I thought the exact same thing when I was approached about writing a book a few years ago, I really wondered if there was a need for what I was about to produce. Turns out there's plenty of space in the market for technical books still, and yet there are still too many coming out that cover the same ground, oftentimes the only differentiating marks being the production (colour photos, yay!). But *this* book really is something different.

If you want a how-to guide on writing CSS, there are numerous choices out there, ranging from the beginner to the kind of people who get CSS but want to refine it into a real art; you got it covered. But all of these books guide you through the steps required to create your masterpieces and try to avoid covering the potential mistakes that can crop up. But the reality as a web developer is that you *will* hit upon problems, and sometimes they can be real head-scratchers to fix. If you've been in the web game for a few years, some of the solutions will come to you magically out of the ether, based on a hunch, a cumulation of years of 'bodging it to work in IE6', but for a newcomer this can be a bit daunting. What Denise has done here is write a book that's never existed (perhaps surprising that it's not been done before) and approached it in a fun way.

In the first chapter, the author covers a lot of the basics of HTML and CSS, explaining concepts such as doctypes, validation, elements and attributes and so on.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not your ordinary CSS book April 29, 2010
If you're tired of the same old boring tech/web books then The CSS Detective is for you. Instead of just dragging through pages of code that put you to sleep, the author has managed to make this book enjoyable to read and packed with useful information. The format of the book is quite different than other CSS books I've looked at - the first half gives you an introduction of CSS...your "detective tools," while the second half is broken into cases that you are walked through solving. There are also a lot of funny quips thrown in through out the book that will make you do a double take now and again. If you want to familiarize yourself with CSS, this is my book recommendation.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars succinct and clear May 31, 2010
This book would be most helpful for beginners. The cover lists the level as beginning/intermediate, which makes sense, but I think beginners will get the most out of it. It's difficult for a person who already has a strong skill set to remember what the beginner's mind is like. Jacobs is a master at it.

In Part 1 of the book, she takes the reader through a succinct and very clear introduction to HTML and CSS with standards and semantics thrown into the mix. She describes the debugging process and gives all sorts of checklists for troubleshooting both HTML and CSS. One chapter in Part 1, called "The Usual Suspects" takes the reader efficiently through document flow, positioning, the box model, hasLayout, floats, lists, margins, nasties like the Peakaboo bug, font sizing and a list of fixes for the related design issues. The book is worth the price for Part 1 alone.

Part 2 of the book is devoted to chapters with a real world "detective case" about a design problem to solve. Each case starts with a design problem. The problem might be a forgotten bit of code, syntax issues, a float problem, and browser workarounds.

The tips for isolating problems and figuring out why certain bits of HTML or CSS aren't working as expected are helpful checklists. For a beginner who is pulling her hair out because something just won't behave as expected, these lists of how to systematically work through the code in search of the answer are a great resource.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get this book March 30, 2011
By Ed
I'm a retired software guy, but new to web programming. I have access to many books on HTML and CSS, and this is one of my favorites. If you've read and studied enough of the other material out there so that you're now writing code and it doesn't work, dis is da book. No program, regardless of language it's written in, works the first time (okay, maybe "hello world"). That's why debugging skills are not only nice to have, they're essential. This author helps develop those skills in the area of HTML/CSS. She has a marvelous (and entertaining) way of blowing away the fog and shining a light on the essence of the topic. I often find myself saying wow, that's the best explanation of that point I've seen yet. You have to study it of course...these books aren't novels...but I get more return on invested effort with this book than with many others. Probably not the only book you'll own on this topic, but it should definitely be in the close-at-hand book rack (the one you can reach without getting up).
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