Most helpful critical review
65 of 68 people found the following review helpful
A bit confusing for beginners...
on May 24, 2003
I just finished teaching an introductory HTML course using this textbook. I wanted to choose a book that taught proper (X)HTML syntax, and the choice ended up being between this book and the O'Reilly HTML & XHTML: The Definitive Guide. I selected this one due to this book's more "visual" approach, its brevity, and its cost (about half the cost of the O'Reilly one).
However, many of the students were confused and frustrated by the layout of the text. The material is more or less presented in a "step by step" fashion, and in most cases the text the student is to change is highlighted in pink to make it easy to spot. However, there are many instances where one area of the code is highlighted, yet more than that area of the text needs to be changed in order for the page to look like the example. Additionally, the author will periodically go off on "side bars" about other things that can be done with a particular topic (table borders, frames, etc.) without notifying the reader that this doesn't have anything to do with the exercise they're trying to work through. Many students were thrown off by this because they didn't see the stuff they just typed in referenced on the next page. There were also several instances where parts of the source code were left off, trusting the reader to infer where it should be placed. This is something that is relatively easy for someone who already knows HTML already to do, but can be frustrating for beginners.
On the brighter side, the content of the book is very comprehensive for such a small text (it even includes a chapter about writing web pages for wireless devices), and it contains helpful (X)HTML tags, CSS properties, special characters, and hex color references in the appendices. The source code in the 5th Edition is also a HUGE improvement over the previous... everything is kept pretty consistent throughout, and it's nice to see a book geared towards beginners pushing readers toward writing valid (X)HTML.