This isn't another cookie-recipe approach to planning a successful Web site. Philip and Alex's Guide to Web Publishing, by MIT veteran Philip Greenspun, is both broadly conceptual and deeply technical, and it assumes that the reader is willing to think seriously about the challenge of building a content site, a community site, or an e-commerce store before plunging in.
Although heavily Unix-oriented, it does not set out to proselytize a product, or even suggest that there is only one way to solve certain technical challenges. Rather, it encourages the reader to think about Web content and functionality as something designed to help visitors answer questions or do something useful. This may sound nebulous, but his observations about why Web sites go bad are illustrated with many well-chosen examples.
The core of the book is quite technical. Three long sections on publishing, community, and e-commerce architectures are illustrated by the author's data models and working open-source systems, so someone with C, SQL, and a good understanding of Internet Protocol (IP) under his or her belt will get the most out of the discussion. Such technical readers will find numerous Web addresses and other citations for further technical information. The author also invites readers to use his code if appropriate.
Although there is a lot of technical meat here, Greenspun dispenses with a dry, technical tone. Throughout, he manages to speak to the reader in a way that is always interesting and frequently bemused or ironic. The overall effect is that of a wry professor who knows his stuff, has thought about the problems, and isn't about to engage in commercial puffery. --Kathleen Caster
From Library Journal
A technical manual that is also a lavishly illustrated coffee-table book, this is the oddest, most interesting guide on web design and publishing this reviewer has ever read. "This book is a catalog of the mistakes that I've made while building more than 100 Web sites in the last five years," writes webmaster Greenspun, who teaches at MIT. Covering web publishing and web-based services in a lively, engaging tone, he makes complex technical ideas simple and accessible to beginners and nontechies who have to manage large web sites. Drop-dead photos taken by Greenspun and available for free on his site (www.photo.net) illustrate the text. Greenspun also gives away almost all the software he writes about and uses, and the entire book is available on the web (http://www. photo.net/wtr/thebook/). Still, all libraries should seriously consider getting one or two copies of the wonderful print version.
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Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.