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182 of 197 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book for learning HTML and CSS
The "Head First" series by O'Reilly does it again. This book manages to take the conceptually easy yet complicated task of learning HTML, XHTML, and CSS and breaks it down so that anyone can figure out what is going on and what needs to be done in web page design using these technologies. Plus, if you learned HTML several years ago and you would like to update your skills...
Published on February 5, 2006 by calvinnme

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75 of 83 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book, Lousy index, full of blather
We're using this book in a college course I'm taking. This book contains a massive amount of REALLY good information, which has been buried in a landslide of unnecessary blather. Add to this the complete lack of a sensible, extensive index, and this book leaves me so frustrated, I am nearly ready to drop the class. (see below..)

The vast amount of useful...
Published on November 16, 2007 by zen_reader


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182 of 197 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book for learning HTML and CSS, February 5, 2006
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This review is from: Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML (Paperback)
The "Head First" series by O'Reilly does it again. This book manages to take the conceptually easy yet complicated task of learning HTML, XHTML, and CSS and breaks it down so that anyone can figure out what is going on and what needs to be done in web page design using these technologies. Plus, if you learned HTML several years ago and you would like to update your skills to current technology, this is a great choice for a textbook.
The book starts out with the basics of HTML -text, webpage form via HTML, putting your webpage on the Internet and linking to other web resources, and adding images and thumbnails. Next the author tackles XHTML, starting by answering the questions What is XHTML? and Why would I want to use XHTML? The author composes three simple steps to take you from strict HTML to XHTML:
1. Change your DOCTYPE to XHTML 1.0 Strict.
2. Add the xmins, lang, and xml:lang attributes to your <html> element.
3. All empty tags should end in "/>" not ">".
Next, CSS is introduced, along with the properties that can be controlled via CSS. When you read the CSS chapters you'll find yourself asking "Why don't other books just SAY this plainly like THIS book does?". Eventually, the author has you doing advanced layout and control using all the tools available to you without you ever noticing that you've been "studying". The book concludes with lessons on interactivity and tables. I think it is most interesting that the author saves the subject of tables for the end of the book versus other texts that usually introduce them early on. This is because the author is using the more advanced lessons on CSS to help make the subject of tabular data less confusing. The book's final chapter is entitled "The Top Ten Topics We Didn't Cover", thus acknowledging that this is not an advanced book on webpage design. Each chapter has a "There Are No Dumb Questions" section that answers common questions that may be a source of confusion to the reader.
Since this book is designed to be a textbook and not a reference, you might find it handy to have a copy of O'Reilly's "HTML & XHTML: The Definitive Guide" as a reference since it lists virtually all of the HTML tags and their properties.
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57 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The 1st HTML/CSS you should get, December 6, 2005
This review is from: Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML (Paperback)
I've been involved with the Head First series as a reviewer from the beginning and, as such, my review might be biased, but I will regret not telling you how good this book is.

The Internet is fast becoming a means of sharing one's life with friends, colleagues and anybody out there who is prepared to listen. Some start by telling their story using a blog; the more adventurous create their own web sites, and it is that category of person that this book is aimed at. Don't make the mistake of thinking that this book, and the whole series, seems too upbeat and too young for you. This book is for all ages, The Head First series is designed to make learning fun, and though it was originally aimed at the younger generation, I personally think that old age pensioners will be able to learn HMTL the correct way just as easily as their grand children if they use this book - and you will be sooo cool if you have this book on your shelf when they, the grand kids, visit again next time.

The emphasis in this book is on creating web pages the correct way, to make pages that will work correctly in any browser. If you work through Elisabeth and Eric's book, you will end up with a web site that can withstand anything the W3C's Markup Validation Service can throw at it. And when your web pages pass the validation, you can put the W3C's cool "passed validation" logo on your site. A sign of recognition that you know what you are doing.

This book does not require you to have prior HTML knowledge; it takes you by the hand and teaches you everything you need from scratch. But don't be fooled, I was the review manager for this book and even some of the reviewers with years of HTML knowledge under their belt learnt new things from it. Sure, it isn't a complete HTML reference book, and it does not intend being one, but it lays the foundations for a solid start to becoming a true HTML/CSS expert.

I think this book should become the standard text book in HTML/CSS courses in schools, colleges and even professional training centers.

I highly recommend it to all. It will make the perfect Christmas gift for your family, all ages !!!, friends and even colleagues who are thinking about or are doing something with a web site of their own.

Have fun.

Like I said, I might be biased, but I am sure an independent reviewer will confirm what I said.
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75 of 83 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book, Lousy index, full of blather, November 16, 2007
This review is from: Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML (Paperback)
We're using this book in a college course I'm taking. This book contains a massive amount of REALLY good information, which has been buried in a landslide of unnecessary blather. Add to this the complete lack of a sensible, extensive index, and this book leaves me so frustrated, I am nearly ready to drop the class. (see below..)

The vast amount of useful information in the book makes it difficult to remember it all at one time. But it's impossible to refer back and find something a week after I've read it without leafing through an entire chapter or more, page by page, because the index is so brief and incomplete.

With a good, complete index, I'd give this book 4.5 stars for it's excellent content (withholding 1/2 star for all the blather). Without a usable index, the book is nearly worthless to me.

GOOD NEWS UPDATE!! The O'Reilly people have replied to my complaint about the index. They're compiling, and will be uploading a complete, extensive index online in January 2008! Too late for my class, but hey! Someone really does listen. Thanks, O'Reilly!
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wish I could give this 6 stars..., January 19, 2006
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This review is from: Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML (Paperback)
Head First HTML with CSS and XHTML is totally unlike any other HTML book I've ever read -- or owned. Most are basic references -- "if you want this, do this" type books. Very dry and dull, not something you're going to sit and read in one setting. Not helpful to someone who is not technologically inclined who wants to learn how to "do a website."

This book is written to teach. It's written so that you remember what you read, using techniques that teachers are being taught to use in the classroom. And it's one that I would actually use in the classroom if I were still teaching Computer Applications.

The first thing you notice about the book is that it's colorful. Normally, the only color in an HTML book is the chart of colors and their hex codes (which, ironically, this book doesn't have). Even the acknowledgements include color pictures of the people they are thanking. And everything in the book is worth reading through -- including the acknowledgements and the table of contents. There's a healthy use of humor throughout that makes it worth actually reading through, rather than just using as a reference.

And that's the point. The authors are quick to say that if you're looking for another HTML reference book, to keep looking. This is a book for people who want to learn.

I wasn't sure how much I'd really learn from this book -- after all, I'd just read and reviewed Creating Web Sites: The Missing Manual. But while that book gave me a good basis for understanding CSS, this book has expanded my understanding considerably. I've got a CSS reference book that has been seldom used; I think I'll be dusting it off soon, because I know enough to be able to use it now.

If you've ever had a family member who wanted you to design a website for them, buy them Head First HTML with CSS and XHTML. If you've ever asked a family member to design you a web site, buy this book. If you've ever bought an HTML book and ended up using it to level your desk, or for kindling on a cold winter day, buy this book. This is the book you've been waiting for. This is the learning system you've been waiting for.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great tutorial - will give you the basics, January 6, 2006
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This review is from: Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML (Paperback)
To learn HTML / CSS, you will probably need three books 1) a book to help you learn the topic; 2) a reference; 3) a book that describes the hacks and tricks for getting your own designs to work in various browers. This book does an excellent job of covering the first topic. It does not bill itself as a book for experts, or a reference.

It's well written in an engaging way that turns a potentially dry topic into a more conversational read. It has useful examples that are well-presented and that continue and build throughout the book. Examples are accomanied by sidebars and out-takes that break up the format in an engaging way that helps understand the material, why things work the way they do, alternative designs and their trade-offs.

My only gripe about the book and the reason I did not give it 5 stars, is that it seems to side-step the browser compatibility issue.
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97 of 118 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best HTML/XHTML/CSS Book Ever, December 29, 2005
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This review is from: Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML (Paperback)
******

This book SHOULD receive 6+ stars.

Are you tired of reading reference manuals? Get ready for some fun with "Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML". This is not your ordinary technical manual. It is funny, interesting, VERY helpful---even for seasoned professionals, great for beginners, and unlike anything you've ever seen before, unless you're familiar with other "Head First" books.

I wish, I wish, I pray, that instructors will read this book and see that learning can be fun, interesting, and enjoyable. If you purchase this book, no matter what your level of HTML familiarity, I guarantee that you will be entertained and informed. Even if you have spent years designing web sites, you won't mind spending $23 to read a prototype of what technical manuals SHOULD be but never are...until now!!

Buy this book....you won't be sorry.

I stayed up until midnight last night reading answers to questions I'd always wanted to ask but never knew who to ask them of...and being fascinated. A true beginner will need to study this book. A professional will laugh and be refreshed and have a lot of fun with it. All should purchase it and support a new way of learning!

******
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good for nearly all experience levels, March 30, 2006
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This review is from: Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML (Paperback)
I know HTML and XML (I've designed a number of domain-specific XML vocabularies). The problem is my HTML knowledge was acquired in the dawn of the WWW when Mosaic was new technology and one could actually have a site announcing the dozen or so new sites appearing on the web each week. This was pre-CSS too. My skills needed some serious updating.

The first few chapters of the book are certainly elementary and I just skimmed them. But starting with chapter five I started getting new and useful information. Those first four chapters would be great for someone starting ab-initio. (I'll test them on my wife and kids.)

The rest of the book is good for fixing my bad-old HTML 1.0 habits and transitioning to strict XHTML. And by the end of the book I actually understood CSS, which had always been a black art to me.

I'm using my new-found knowledge to build some web sites using an XHTML template for Joomla and CSS for all the styling.

The treatment is light and fun, but not nearly as smarmy and condescending as, say, the XXX For Dummies series. It is kind of neat how they match the visual personalities of the make-believe actors with the questions and topics.

This is NOT a reference manual: you'll be very disappointed if you buy it for that purpose. Instead, read this book and keep it nearby when coding up your web sites; use an on-line XHTML or CSS reference when you need it.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice Intro to XHTML and CSS, February 8, 2006
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This review is from: Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML (Paperback)
What distinguishes "Head First: HTML With CSS and XHTML" from the plenitude of books about learning about creating web pages is its novel teaching approach. It takes knowledge from modern developments in the science of cognition to develop a teaching approach designed to increase learning and retention using a checklist of techniques. It emphasizes use of visual and graphic elements to facilitate learning, the placing of words near graphics, use of a conversational and personalized writing style, engaging the reader's emotions, and grabbing attention by eye and brain-catching presentations. All of this is plausible pedagogically and I believe it works. After reading 655 pages of technical material, rarely did it feel tedious, difficult, or confusing.

The subject matter is basic coding with XHTML and CSS and is designed for beginner code writers and web page creators. It explains basic material for understanding and writing standards-compliant code. It is not a reference book and it does not dig deeply into its topics. Many readers may find the instructional approach highly appealing as it does make reading fun. Learning is likely to be enhanced by the brain stimulation provided by the many dozens of activities, like crossword puzzles, tests, exercises, and question and answer sections.

This is a handsomely produced volume with heavyweight glossy paper, clear, detailed photographs, and many illustrations and graphics. It is easy on the eye and stimulating to the brain. The discussion is suitable for virtually any beginners in XHTML and CSS. The presentation will appeal to the MTV generation especially, with its high density of graphics, bold illustrations, and low-density text.

Authors Elisabeth Freeman and Eric Freeman are software developers and computer scientists. The book emphasizes standards-compliant coding for all the right reasons - newer browsers may not correctly display older noncompliant code, accessibility for handicapped web users is heightened, efficiencies in code writing is enhanced, and more options are available for web page authors to display and style their content. It covers HTML 4.01 and XHTML, and covers both Mac and PC aspects of the topics.

After a couple of very basic chapters dealing with rudimentary HTML and hypertext, the authors turn to the building blocks of satisfactory, compliant coding - sketching structures, adding elements, learning inline vs. block element positioning, and similar items.

There are small sections throughout which inform on various related matters, like dealing with different browsers, using a hosting company and organizing one's site, but the bulk and better of the material deals with systematic construction of web pages using essential building blocks.

Headings, paragraphs, images, element identification, and the various components of CSS styling are carefully described and explained via examples using sample sites. The writing throughout is very clear and straightforward (as enhanced by the teaching elements noted earlier). The best chapter in my view is Chapter 10 explaining the "box model" of XHTML elements. The components of padding, margins, content, and body are very well illustrated within the context of the examples.

The chapter on layout is also very well done, showing how to create two and three column layouts and addressing how to handle common layout problems in positioning. Other matters covered include floating elements, liquid and frozen designs, and relative and absolute positioning.

Later chapters cover using XHTML to create lists, tables and forms, and then styling with CSS. The sections or CSS are very clear, but limited. This is an introduction, after all, and most of the most important and useful style components are described and illustrated. More advanced components like DIV and SPAN are covered nicely. The sections on classes and pseudo-classes are well done.

This is a fine introduction to the topics for the nontechnical reader. Higher-level computer types will not be satisfied; those people not attracted to the unconventional presentation may not be pleased. But, for the most part, this is a worthwhile introduction to the topics.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great starter book for beginners and moderately experienced, January 16, 2006
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This review is from: Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML (Paperback)
Our department has been making good use of the Head First series of books while we move out of our legacy applications and replace them with Java and Java related technologies. Many of the legacy app's are being replaced with JSP based web applications where CSS is used to present the common corporate look. We again turned to Head First to brush up on our HTML skills and learn what CSS is all about.

What an awesome book! It is both engaging and educating at the same time. The authors cover tons of information in a way that makes this dry subject something to look forward to and not to dread. Any college or tech school that offers an introductory course into this subject should consider using this book as a primary source for teaching.

I had previously though I was fairly fluent in HTML but I found a few things in the first 7 chapters I did not fully know. Even though this section was mostly review, I did not mind going through the exercise. Then once I got into the application of CSS concepts, Wow! Why had I shied away from CSS for so long?

I agree with the previous reviews...A book for the experts? No. A great reference book? Not great but OK. A book to get you going and get you 80% into the world of web page creation? Absolutely. Head First folks, keep up the great work!
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than it looks, August 25, 2006
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This review is from: Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML (Paperback)
I passed over this book initially because it looked too goofy, and the first half of the book seemed to take a lot of pages to cover HTML, which I basically already knew. I picked up Richard York's Beginning CSS instead, because it seemed more serious, and it looked a lot more dense with technical detail.

What a mistake. Beginning CSS was incredibly obtuse and difficult to get through, and the examples were just ugly (not to mention they don't work properly in any browser). A couple hundred pages in, I got lost in all the "direct adjacent sibling combinators" and "@import notations" and I gave up.

Then I decided to give Head First HTML a shot. It's about the same thickness as Beginning CSS, but it's much much much easier to read. The type is bigger, and there are lots of illustrations and puzzles and what-not. Most importantly, it's written much more clearly. The examples are easy to code, they look great, and they actually work in real web browsers.

I got through the book in about a week and a half, and boom, I know how to write standards-compliant XHTML & CSS. Obviously, I still have plenty of room for advancement, but I know enough to put together some pretty decent web pages. The book is up-to-date (it even mentions iWeb, which was just released earlier this year), and it really does make the learning process easy and, dare I say, fun.
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Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML
Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML by Eric Freeman (Paperback - December 18, 2005)
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