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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unequalled CSS depth
An analogy for comparing this book to other CSS books: if other books are 2-day seminars then this book is a full fledged college course. This book takes a rigorous, organized approach to teaching you how CSS works whereas most CSS books take a "here's what you need to know" approach. It is not difficult, but it does take time to read the entire book and you cannot skip...
Published on September 25, 2007 by Frodo Baggins

versus
12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars unhelpful format and poor editing
There is some useful information in this book, but the author's rigid adherence to the format works against the presentation of it. I find that Andy Budd's book (CSS Mastery ...) is a much better book. They seem very different but I think that many developers will read them needing the same information.

Further, as is becoming more and more the case with new...
Published on April 24, 2008 by Dave


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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unequalled CSS depth, September 25, 2007
By 
Frodo Baggins (Wisconsin, United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Pro CSS and HTML Design Patterns (Paperback)
An analogy for comparing this book to other CSS books: if other books are 2-day seminars then this book is a full fledged college course. This book takes a rigorous, organized approach to teaching you how CSS works whereas most CSS books take a "here's what you need to know" approach. It is not difficult, but it does take time to read the entire book and you cannot skip parts of the book or it won't make sense.

First, if you only read pages 70-71, then you will have gotten the value of the price of the book. Michael is the first and at this point the only person that I've seen figure out an approach very similar to O-O inheritance (not CSS hierarchical inheritance). His is example uses a button class and 3 sub-classes, whose rules are written button.square, button.rounded and button.go. This is an invaluable technique. Other sites have always said that "you can't do O-O inheritance in CSS", but he has come up with a simple way to do it.

The difference between this book and others is that he organizes CSS into a methodology that no one else has. He organizes it into box model type, box model extent and box model placement. These are the authors categories and not explicit CSS categories (though they can be said to be implied by the CSS standard). He then goes about showing you every combination of how these work together, why each is useful and their limitations, including browser limitations. It's very dry reading, but you get a grasp of CSS that you wouldn't get otherwise. For example, I always had difficulty with centering items in CSS, because it would work sometimes and not other times. In other books and on the web, I would find centering "hacks" that usually involved text-align: center, but never really understood why CSS didn't have a way to center items. It turns out that CSS does have a way to center elements, but you have to know which type of box model that you're working with as well as its limitations ( horizontally shrinkwrapped elements cannot be centered and IE6 cannot center absolute elements).

I highly recommend this book, but only if you are willing to commit time to learning it thoroughly. This is not a "get you up and running in 30 minutes" type of book.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great resource, no matter your level of CSS knowledge, August 14, 2007
This review is from: Pro CSS and HTML Design Patterns (Paperback)
Pro CSS and HTML Design Patterns by Michael Bowers is an incredible resource and toolbox for any level web developer. Whether you are just beginning with CSS or are of a professional status, this book has something to offer. With over 300 different design patterns, this book is the perfect resource to solve just about every problem you face. There are patterns for every aspect of your site, and their modular nature give you the potential to combine several of them to create some very unique websites. All of this comes with the added bonus that each of these design patterns have been thoroughly tested in all major browsers. There is great attention to the details throughout each of these patterns.

Contents
This book is not broken down like your typical web development book. The first 3 chapters of this book focus solely on the foundation. The first chapter discusses CSS. This includes addressing many of the common properties and values, different types of selectors, units of measure, and addressing the cascade. Chapter 2 moved on to talk about different HTML design patterns. This section outlines the basic building blocks of any HTML document such as html, doctype, head, body, and many possible elements in between. Chapter 3 moves on to the tricky subject of CSS selectors and inheritance. This becomes important throughout the rest of the book as proper inheritance will play a big role in developing our patterns and keeping our code lean and semantic. None of these three chapters are exhaustive in nature, but they give you a solid base to work with as you read throughout the rest of the book. So, while this book can be used as a resource, if you are just beginning CSS I would recommend not skipping the first three chapters.

Chapters 4 through 9 focus on the different layout options available to you. Chapter 4 starts things off by defining and discussing the Box Model. We look at several different types of the box model including inline box, inline-block box, absolute box, and floated box. Chapter 5 takes things a step further and discusses width, height, sized, shrinkwrapped, and stretched box model options. Chapter 6 addresses all of the editable properties of the Box Model and how they relate to one another. Things like margin, border, padding, background, visibility, and overflow are covered. Chapters 7 through 9 take you from the basic models to advanced layout options. Some of these are more intricate than others, but afford you some great layout techniques. We have built a base, and looked in depth at all of our available positioning models, now it is time to get down to some of the finer details of our layout and how we can style the often overlooked elements.

Chapters 10 through 19 are all focused on polishing each and every piece of your layout. We start by looking at different ways to style your text, how to give your content breathing room and your different alignment options, and gradually move to styling elements such as tables, columns, drop caps, and callouts and quotes. There are several other sections that also discuss block elements and entire layout options. We can now begin to put the pieces of the puzzle together and see how our finished product can become one cohesive whole unit.

The last chapter discusses design patterns for alerts within your layout. This chapter does include some JavaScript, but all of this is made known up-front as you implement any of the given options. We look at different alerts such as JavaScript, tooltips, popups, inline, and graphical. There are several others covered as well, but these are some of the more common ones that developers run into.

Conclusion
This is not a book that needs to be read from cover to cover to fully understand. It is used and designed as a resource to help you solve your design problems. This book would serve as a great desk reference. As stated earlier, each of the design patterns presented in this book have been thoroughly tested in all major browsers. This doesn't mean everything will work in all situations, but it does mean that each stand-alone pattern has undergone intense browser testing. It is up to you and your creativity to combine and extend them to suit your specific needs.

If you are looking for a complete site design solutions book, this is not it--but if you are seeking a book to help you solve many common problems--then this book will serve as a useful tool for you. You do not need to be a CSS professional to find great value in this book.
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34 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Limitless Depth, May 25, 2007
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This review is from: Pro CSS and HTML Design Patterns (Paperback)
If ever you found yourself wishing that every single possible combination of CSS properties was documented in one comprehensive volume, the solution has just arrived. Pro CSS and HTML Design Patterns is just that, a huge guide to each and every HTML and CSS combination you could possibly think of. Floats, clearing, 6 types of box models, absolute and relative positioning - it's all there. Just as with programming, using coding conventions and understanding recurring combinations can help speed up the entire production work-flow.

I am always drawn to the page which describes a book author. Somehow, knowing a bit of background info helps me peer into their thought process as I read the book. In this case, the author Michael Bowers is an accomplished pianist and has a PhD in music theory. It is interesting, because just as notes and pauses can create song, so design elements and whitespace create page layouts. Michael has brought that same sense of composure to this book, describing the intricacies of code interaction and inheritance.

He has done a great job of encapsulating many possible page layouts, through having conducted thousands of test cases, paring them down to the most stable, cross-browser compatible solutions. This has resulted in over 350 readily usable design patterns. These can be combined to create limitless possibilities for your own work. Most experienced front-end architects will find themselves agreeing with a lot of the principles that are covered in this book, and for those just starting out, it will bring you up to speed on what you need to know.

There are several examples which incorporate JavaScript, but most of the book focuses on practical, real-world application of HTML and CSS, the bread and butter of all professional web developers. I wish that this type of resource had existed when I was first learning the ropes. It would have saved me countless hours of frustration learning how various aspects of CSS interact, and trying to figure out why Internet Explorer doesn't seem to get it right.

One of the awesome things about this book is that Michael has made all of the examples readily available on the companion site, with the topics broken out by chapter. So, rather than give you a laundry list of what's in this book, I will simply point you there: cssDesignPatterns.com. I really can't say enough good things about the book. If you're not already a CSS guru but want to achieve a higher level of proficiency, I'd recommend checking it out.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Resource - Too many SPAN tags, November 7, 2007
By 
A. Calder (Burnaby, BC, Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Pro CSS and HTML Design Patterns (Paperback)
This is an excellent reference guide for CSS, especially for those frustrated web developers out there who are struggling with what seem like impossible-to-solve issues.

Bowers presents some incredible insight into CSS as it is used to style every element on a web page.

However, he uses a huge amount of SPAN tags to accomplish many of the examples he has in the book, which defeats the purpose of coding a semantically-correct page. Instead of separating content and presentation, his examples *add* presentational SPAN tags, which clutter the code.

I understand that these are simply examples, but in order to use the examples listed in the book, you have to utilize the SPAN tags for much of the effect, which is unfortunate.

CSS delivered the promise of separating content from presentation, but the implementation was flawed amongst browser manufacturers, leading to developers creating pages with bloated code that embedded presentational elements amongst their content. This makes upgrading that code and/or the design of the site harder to do, as you are stuck with potentially useless tags.

I would give this book 5 stars if not for the excessive use of SPAN tags to achieve many of the effects in the book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An end to your browser-compatibility woes, March 3, 2008
This review is from: Pro CSS and HTML Design Patterns (Paperback)
I purchased this book in an attempt to fill in some gaps in my knowledge mainly pertaining to browser compatibility issues with CSS. I often create template for web pages using CSS and XHTML based on Photoshop designs. In my experience, creating sites for Firefox has been pretty smooth but getting things to look right in IE, especially IE6 has proved to be quite a challenge at times. This book is great in that it clearly specifies what is and what is not supported in various browsers.

All of the code was written for and tested in all browsers which is exactly what I needed. I also learned quite a bit about positioning with the box model. I was doing a lot of things wrong...for instance, I was using a lot of relative and absolute CSS positioning instead of working within the boxes and using margins for positioning. This method is MUCH more reliable!

After reading this book, I've been able to successfully create robust templates that are expandable, highly compatible and display properly among all major browsers, including Opera and Safari.

It's kind of a tough read at time simply because it is so technical but I definitely recommend this book!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For CSS *Mastery*, February 20, 2011
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This review is from: Pro CSS and HTML Design Patterns (Paperback)
It is difficult to say too much about this book. It is not unfair to call it a work of brilliance, and the web design community owes a debt of gratitude to the author. It is the product of such innovation, exploration, exposition, and organization that one wonders if the author suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder to have been able to muster up the effort required to produce the work.

This is the book that allows you to master CSS. It probably should be your primary CSS resource. It is a tour de force of CSS explication and moves one beyond guessing, "WTF? Why doesn't X work?", to knowing with a great degree of understanding how CSS works.

The author endeavors to systematically cover every usable feature of CSS 2.1, has run thousands of tests to tease out all the usable formulations of properties, and the book shows examples of each usage with HTML. The term "usable" is key. He's cut out the over 40 out of 122 properties and over 250 of 600 CSS rules that are not widely implemented by the major browsers. By doing so, he spares us the miserable task of cross-browser testing by providing only patterns that are guaranteed to work with all of them (and without the need for dubious hacks).

I did notice some seemingly missing coverage. The use of dynamic pseudo selectors on non-link elements barely gets a mention, as well as the outline property. I assume the author passes over them because they were deemed unsupported by all major browsers at the time of publication (2007), however currently they are widely supported and should be included in a subsequent edition. Current browsers support many items previously deemed "unusable". And any concessions made to support the disreputable IE 6 can be mercilessly excised. Mercifully, IE 6 is no longer a "major" browser.

There are some things that are outdated, such as the advocacy of XHTML over HTML. XHTML 2 has crawled into a corner, and HTML 5 is the new heir. This doesn't detract from the overall value of the book. The stuff here is classic in its utility. The fact that it works reliably in major browsers circa 2007 means that it will work with newer browsers as well. E.g., there may be new ways to accomplish rounded corners in CSS 3, but the older techniques shown in the book will also work in current browsers. You might even prefer to use the older techniques for reasons of backward compatibility.

Other books on CSS that I've seen, even advanced books, boil down to a few of the author's favorite techniques and tricks. You get spotty coverage, consisting only of what the authors happen to want to impart. Part of the problem is that CSS really is huge. There's so much you can do, with so many settings and properties to deal with in order to accomplish things. Other books I've seen don't even attempt anything near sweeping coverage.

Not only is CSS a big topic, it is full of seeming inconsistencies and mysterious black art ways of accomplishing various tasks. Part of the problem is that outside of the Official Spec, CSS is just not adequately covered in one place. This book offers systematic and thorough coverage of CSS. The author has also taken the mass of CSS/HTML rules and behaviors and organized them into a coherent taxonomy that lends sanity to the combinatorial explosion of CSS property formulations.

Without such organization CSS can appear to be a crazy-quilt of rules with myriad maddening and confusing exceptions. This taxonomy provides you with a rational conceptual model to understand CSS design execution. And when you understand a particular design formula applies to a particular element, you also know that the behavior applies to the larger class of elements, which widens the scope and practical applicability of your understanding, while at the same time streamlining your learning.

To use a specific example, consider the box model. Any decent book on CSS describes the box model, it is central to understanding how HTML elements behave with CSS. Officially the CSS spec discusses a single but varying box model. However, this oversimplifies things to the point of confusion. The problem is that the box model can have different behaviors depending on the HTML element and the CSS property combinations. And the same properties can have different results depending on the element. So designers wind up being befuddled by what seem to be oddities and inconsistencies of CSS which are irreconcilable with the simplistic box model they've learned.

The author has synthesized the various permutations into six specific, consistent models which can be applied to all HTML elements. This is necessary because the models aren't explicitly identified in the CSS specification, only implied. This synthesis of identifying implied behaviors as explicit models is a great part of what makes the book innovative.

Once you know these models, you see the behaviors as reliable intrinsic attributes of discrete model operation, rather than as random results which you vaguely understand, may not be able to replicate or control, and can't rely upon. They resolve the confusing inconsistency of a single box model. When you understand how a behavior works, you can execute the behavior on not just a specific element, but on the class of elements to which its box model applies. Since every element adheres to some box model, your understanding serves as leverage on every other element of that class.

I'll add that box models aren't simply trivial aspects of CSS design, they are a foundational core concept which apply to all HTML elements. I've not seen any other book take such pains to explicate the details of them. The author devotes three entire chapters to the box model alone in order to establish a comprehensive framework for understanding it. What he does for the box model, he also does for positioning - identifying six explicit models; sizing - three models; tables - four models. I.e., he establishes clear, complete models of behavior which one can rely on for predictably working with the CSS area at hand.

The book takes the approach of providing an organized collection of 350 reusable formulas, or solutions - the author uses the terminology of design "patterns". The term pattern is used in the computer programming world to connote not only solutions for particular problems, but also a kind of independent modularity that allows these solutions to be mixed and matched with other patterns to build a greater whole, as with Lego pieces. In other words, these patterns are elemental solutions which can be relied upon to work by themselves, and can be combined with other patterns to form more complex composite entities.

By breaking CSS into elemental, reliable, and reusable design patterns, you wind up with an extensive tool kit containing building blocks which you can combine to produce your desired effect in a dependable and efficient manner. From simple to complex manifestations, the patterns are guaranteed to work in all major browsers while at the same time being engineered with best practices and accessibility. This means you replace the guesswork and trial and error hacking about, which so often characterizes CSS programming, with predictable and reliable behavior and techniques. Find your pattern, tweak the values to your own needs - done. And know it will work in multiple browsers. You get the immense gift of confidence in your design work execution.

Taken as a whole, these patterns cover the major aspects of CSS design. They are organized into major design topics such as positioning, styling text, aligning content, layout, tables, etc. The list is extensive. In this way the book can function as a cookbook, allowing you to reference a specific issue by topic section. It can also function as a learning text, allowing you to read the section on, say, tables, and learn all about tables.

Each individual pattern is formatted so that when the book is open it is laid out with a screen shot of the pattern as it appears in a browser on the left facing page and the explanation and relevant code on the right facing page. This makes it possible to quickly flip through the pages for ideas or access a solution visually. This consistency of layout is a major feature: while keeping your eyes set at the same place it allows you to flip the pages of the book so that you can visually scan the images for the result you seek.

So let's say you are seeking to format a table with mixed column sizes. You can go directly to the table section and flip through the pages, all the while keeping your eyes fixed at the place where the image appears, until you come across the one that matches your desired result. It's actually pleasurable to use - you'll wonder why all design books aren't formatted this way.

Many books do not service well after first reading and make for terrible references. The organization of this book make it well suited for coming back to as a reference. By organizing all information related to a specific topic in one place it becomes easy to access later. It also allows you to contrast and compare related topic behaviors in one place. This localization aids in focusing, amplifying, and mentally organizing the information.

E.g., going to the Margin section you can see how margins affect various elements, and this helps you determine which type of element you may wish to use. Contrast this with having to recall all elements to which margins apply and checking them individually in different respective places. That's a lot of rooting around, and it leads to hit and miss coverage. Instead, you can see how the property affects all elements in one place.

This organization also helps with debugging. When something is not working as expected, a common method of debugging is to take away properties one at a time until the problem disappears. When the problem disappears, you know that the issue exists with the most recently removed property.

E.g., say you've figured out that the margin is causing your stretched table to overflow its container. You can go directly to the margin section of the book to see how the margin property affects tables, as well as alternative formatting of tables, as well as alternative elements with different margin behaviors.

Compare this to searching through a different book where the author covered such a thing in some arbitrary chapter where he happened to be using the design within another context, of perhaps displaying a calendar, and it could have been in the beginning of the chapter or the middle, you don't quite remember. You have to scan all over the pages fumbling around hoping to get back to that spot. It makes for very inefficient access to information.

The author also provides extensive cross-references to the related patterns, furthering your understanding of a pattern's relationship to the contextual whole. Access is further augmented by having a detailed table of contents, index, thumb tabs, chapter outlines, uniquely naming each pattern, and a link to the companion web site where you can see each pattern live. You can tell the author has thought much about making content accessible to the reader, but also about providing not just content, but context. He's not just doing a brain dump of his expertise, leaving it up to the reader to sort things out. He has written the book with organization, context, and accessibility as key parts of its architecture.

Organization is essential to pedagogy in general. It's not simply exposure to raw expertise that counts. That expertise needs to be presented in such a way as to produce a structured, cumulative framework of knowledge, free of internal inconsistencies, so as to be maximally useful and form what we call comprehension. This book is an example of how organization of content is as important as the content itself - typically, a poorly executed aspect of many instructional books. The meta importance of content organization is that it's not just an arrangement of content, but an implied directive on how to mentally organize and think about the material.

The book's concentration is about structure, not aesthetics. The book is about manifesting what is possible from an execution perspective. It's not about how to make things pretty, it's about how things are made. While CSS may seem technical, it is necessarily so by nature because there is ultimately a machine being instructed by it. But this is a happy circumstance. Being a technical discipline means that one can access the possibilities by objective means. It takes execution out of the realm of black art and into accessible mechanics.

The book is not without its warts. It reads like a technical manual and the explanations can seem abstruse. I wish the author did a better job of explaining some things, broke with the technical style of presentation in places, and wrote about some of the topics in a more informal manner. It would have been useful for many readers if the author had done a little hand-holding for the reader rather than stick so rigidly to the technical format.

The author makes reference to "terminal nodes" without any discussion of the Document Object Model which would have given context to what's being terminated. Terms confusingly cross-pollinate and the author could have done a better job of making items more distinct and contrasted. As the author's background is computer programming this style and approach is not surprising. However, to those not inclined, it can be a challenge to parse such spartan prose, requiring one to muster up a rigorous discipline of reading.

The topic of sizing could be more adequately explained. For anyone caring to use this review as an addendum, an element's "size" is a calculated value which may or may not include all the constituents of inner-box, padding, border, and margin. So, for instance, when a stretched table with a margin overflows its container, it is because the size calculated for it didn't include the margin (Chapter 5, pg 105). This holds true for tables, floats, and inline-blocks. A discussion of what causes overflow would have been quite instructional to have as well.

I think you will get the most benefit from reading the entire book front to back. If you jump to the positioning section, it describes how positioning affects various box models - but if you skipped the box model chapters you'll be lost. At least read the box model chapters before skipping around. While the patterns are self-contained in execution, the book content is cumulative, with subsequent chapters building on previous ones.

The book may require of the reader a fair amount of determination and fortitude to get through it. At first pass, the book can be overwhelming - it's highly concentrated stuff. Although the author has accomplished a great feat in making the CSS spec accessible to mere humans, it can still be a formidable read. You may need a third, fourth, or fifth reading of the book in order to grok it all. But after the fluff of other intermediate or advanced books, the compactness and concentration of content in this book will come as a welcome change in efficiency of access. I think one would benefit from re-reading it every few months, with each pass providing further perspective and ideas, and cementing the content in one's head. The reward is that you change from guessing about CSS to knowing CSS.

I've bought Apress (the publisher) books of wildly varying degrees of quality - I was unfortunate to have purchased one which was so poorly written it required more than an hour of making corrections from its errata and a number more posting new ones - but that didn't make up for the poor overall quality.

I'm dismayed at seeing that corrections I submitted to the publisher's web site months ago have not appeared in the errata. In fact, the web site doesn't show any corrections whatsoever for the book - no errata exists. A bad sign that the book is being ignored by the publisher or maybe that they are doing a poor job of maintaining their books. Readers are not likely to help improve a book by submitting corrections if it appears that the publisher doesn't care. Thankfully, this book contains few critical errors. The book is easily worth twice its asking price, and I consider it a classic in the field. Judging by the lack of a recent edition update, I think the publisher may not appreciate the gem it has on its hands.

To summarize, if you seek to master CSS, this is the book to get. In comparison, other books in the field pale with inadequacy. It presents coverage of CSS that is systematic and comprehensive, and it provides you with a structured framework of knowledge that brings order to CSS chaos, sparing you time and effort, and allowing you to confidently manifest reliable designs that work in all major browsers. But passive readers need not apply.

Final notes, if the publisher is listening: it is a poorly titled book. Marketing-wise it has no value. A more appropriate and less impenetrable one might be "The Elements of CSS Design".

Some of the examples would have benefited from having not only the schematic browser screen shot, but a real world example. E.g., we're shown that inline or block elements can be displayed as tables, rows and cells, but why would we want to do this? A concrete example would provide some guidance. Perhaps these could be provided on the companion web site so as not to bloat the page count of the book.

With a few changes and a bit more user friendliness, this book could go from being the unsung classic in the CSS field to being THE book for CSS, in the same way that "Agile Web Development With Rails" is to Rails programming or "The C Programming Language" is to C programming.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You *can* code HTML/CSS deliberately!, June 20, 2009
By 
This review is from: Pro CSS and HTML Design Patterns (Paperback)
Many programmers I know don't bother to learn HTML and CSS, disdainfully shrugging it off as "not really programming". Seriously - that is no excuse to do it badly!

This book might change a programmer's mind. Certainly, markup is still markup, but this treatment of HTML/CSS is - well - awesome.

Most CSS/HTML code I see employs the "programming by coincidence" model. Add a rule here to fix something that doesn't quite work there, use a negative margin here, maybe a browser-specific hack there. In the end, it works. It might even look pretty good, but invariably, the result is unnecessarily bloated.

Pro CSS and HTML Design Patterns makes it possible to code deliberately. It provides a solid fundamental understanding of how elements and rules interact, and especially how the same element or attribute will behave differently in different environments.

In several cases, it has saved me hours of trying to achieve something which simply cannot be done in the current specification. At the same time, it has provided enough information to find a different approach that does work.

The book is very systematic, and while it is a great read cover-to-cover, it functions very well as a reference volume. The 'patterns' format (name/problem/solution/pattern) makes it very easy to locate the exact information you are looking for.

The author focuses on browser compatibility, and accessibility to screenreaders. I have been disappointed only once - when I thought 'accessibility' included those who do not use a pointing device. But that is more of a javascript question than CSS/HTML, and therefore falls outside the scope of the book.

Summary: Buy this book. Read this book. I mean it.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Changing thought process, March 6, 2008
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This review is from: Pro CSS and HTML Design Patterns (Paperback)
This book is an excellent work. Its content is flowed logically and thoroughly. That said, I would recommend it for relative newcomers to CSS in that it really is a new way to think about CSS programming. People who have been using CSS for some time might find it requires their "unlearning" some coding procedures in order to "relearn" some new methodologies. Even so, I find the book an excellent addition to my ever-expanding CSS library what with CSS being such a fluid technology.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the css genie, July 15, 2007
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This review is from: Pro CSS and HTML Design Patterns (Paperback)
"Pro CSS and HTML Design Patterns" is a valuable reference for using CSS on your website. You should be familiar with reading or writing CSS and have some experience with HTML for this book to be readable. In particular, you should feel comfortable with CSS syntax and high level concepts.

The book is still useful if you know CSS "a little" - you may have to read parts a few times. In particular, there are a few places were terms are defined after they are used. It's a bit of a catch 22 for the author as introducing those terms rely on the initial sections. There aren't many of these and all becomes clear by reading the patterns twice.

I liked the style of having code/screenshots on one side and the pattern/description/limitations on the other side of each two page set. This consistency made the book easy to follow. I particularly liked the emphasis of making the patterns accessible to people using different browsers, screenreaders and with Javascript disabled.

Some of the design patterns are teaching patterns to understand concepts and terminology. The rest are techniques you could want to use when designing a web page. Some techniques are self contained like styling text. The end of the book builds more complex patterns out of those that came before. The box model and layout ones are quite valuable.

The companion website lets you play with each pattern. In summary: buy this book!
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars unhelpful format and poor editing, April 24, 2008
By 
Dave "Dave" (New York, NY USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Pro CSS and HTML Design Patterns (Paperback)
There is some useful information in this book, but the author's rigid adherence to the format works against the presentation of it. I find that Andy Budd's book (CSS Mastery ...) is a much better book. They seem very different but I think that many developers will read them needing the same information.

Further, as is becoming more and more the case with new apress titles, the copy editing is substandard. It's a pity, as apress had such a good reputation for quality books, and this kind of thing is hurting them.
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Pro CSS and HTML Design Patterns
Pro CSS and HTML Design Patterns by Michael Bowers (Paperback - April 24, 2007)
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