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135 of 138 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfectly practical, and will become indispensible to me...
I've mentioned in the past that books on web standards and markup tend to irritate me due to their "I'm an expert and my opinion is always right" attitude. But never one to give up, I had the chance to review Web Standards Solutions - The Markup and Style Handbook by Dan Cederhold (Apress). Much like the book Designing With Web Standards by Jeffrey Zeldman, this...
Published on July 22, 2004 by Thomas Duff

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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great introduction
I whish I'd read this one sooner. This book is a great introduction to the fabulous world of web standards. This is not, however the right book if you are already an experienced coder of standardized (X)HTML. Unlike books such as CSS Mastery (Budd, Moll, Collison), this book contains little of the "oh, right - I had completely forgot about that" tips, that experienced...
Published on February 23, 2007 by Jørgen Arnor G. Lom


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135 of 138 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfectly practical, and will become indispensible to me..., July 22, 2004
This review is from: Web Standards Solutions: The Markup and Style Handbook (Pioneering Series) (Paperback)
I've mentioned in the past that books on web standards and markup tend to irritate me due to their "I'm an expert and my opinion is always right" attitude. But never one to give up, I had the chance to review Web Standards Solutions - The Markup and Style Handbook by Dan Cederhold (Apress). Much like the book Designing With Web Standards by Jeffrey Zeldman, this is a refreshing change and extremely practical. I really like it!

The chapter breakdown: Lists; Headings; Tables Are Evil?; Quotations; Forms; <strong>, <em>, and Other Phrase Elements; Anchors; More Lists; Minimizing Markup; Applying CSS; Print Styles; CSS Layouts; Styling Text; Image Replacement; Styling ; Next Steps; Index

The chapters follow a common format... A topic is introduced, and three or four different methods are shown on how to accomplish the task (like lists). Each method is explored for pros and cons, with the goal of finding a solution that puts emphasis on semantic meaning and clean markup. This is followed by an "extra credit" section that pushes past the basic topic and starts to show some more unique ways to use CSS for appealing page images.

For one, the tone is conversational in nature. You're not being lectured to or scolded for not adhering to perfect and exact standards (or opinions). The book is also not a reference manual as such. It's a practical guide on how to use CSS to get the job done and give yourself a solid design that will work for multiple types of browsers. Throw in a little humor along the way, and this book becomes one which you find yourself picking up repeatedly.

The sign of a good book for me is one where I'm using the book either before or during my review. Based on a project I'm currently coding, I've already started to memorize certain page numbers I keep going back to. This book will definitely secure a spot on the bookshelf at work, and will be closely guarded to make sure it doesn't disappear.
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much needed book with superb approach, March 13, 2005
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This review is from: Web Standards Solutions: The Markup and Style Handbook (Pioneering Series) (Paperback)
For just under a year now I have been dipping into the online community of advocates for the many uses of CSS. As someone who is a graphic designer and part time web designer it can sometimes be a pain to find that mix of visual, structural, and functional design needed to take your portfolio and skills to the next level.

This book takes a very clear approach to laying out many paths to a single, or similiar, solutions. I think a big problem with all of us "non gurus" who are trying to get into CSS is knowing whether a tag or style is compatible with the "popular browsers" and if we are going to hand off the project to our clients full of holes and subsequently full of complaints. You can trust Dan as a professional who lays down a number of approaches that can be used, none of which are totally obselete and are going to leave you with an unhappy client.

Another great element of this book is the value it adds to your work. When you put these skills to work on your sites, your not only creating visually great work, but your also making your work compatible on all levels (hand helds, multiple browsers, screen readers, non CSS compatible browsers)and the book even shows why using specific techniques will optimize your code for search engines (and anyone worth thier weight in gold knows how important search engine optimization is for clients).

There are alot of great reasons to fork over your money on this book. As I believe I heard someone mention before, if you have basic CSS knowledge and this book you will be ready to rock. Just dont pick it up expecting to learn CSS from the ground up. For those who have that basic working knowledge, this is the next step in your CSS revolution!
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great introduction, February 23, 2007
This review is from: Web Standards Solutions: The Markup and Style Handbook (Pioneering Series) (Paperback)
I whish I'd read this one sooner. This book is a great introduction to the fabulous world of web standards. This is not, however the right book if you are already an experienced coder of standardized (X)HTML. Unlike books such as CSS Mastery (Budd, Moll, Collison), this book contains little of the "oh, right - I had completely forgot about that" tips, that experienced users could use.

If you have done little web standards (X)HTML and would like a good place to start, this is absolutely a book I would reccomend. If you know your web standards, and like them too, I would reccomend looking elsewhere.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Booster for those who've passed their XHTML & CSS exams, January 4, 2005
This review is from: Web Standards Solutions: The Markup and Style Handbook (Pioneering Series) (Paperback)
First off, this book is definitely not a reference book, if you want to code up in XHTML and CSS, then you need to do the groundwork which is covered in other books. What this book does do, is show you how to practically apply these technologies in everyday situations of web design, and show patterns of commonly accepted, useful tricks and techniques.

Invaluable to the freshly converted - yes - but make sure you know your stuff or this book will leave you floating nowhere. There are no explanations, or details on XHTML or CSS, you must have a reasonably good grasp of both.

The book assumes we are here to learn the simple applications without being confusing. Thats cool, but the book also assumes you have a good working knowledge of CSS, so its simple, but not so simple. I was disappointed that there was not much depth to the examples shown, and some of the potential pitfalls were not indicated. For example, on the chapter on CSS positioning, were given a float method, but its not explained why this is not ideal or where to find more information about the related issues. That stuff would seem relevant to the readers of this book.

Anyway, i enjoyed it, it was really useful - all the applications are excellent, but be careful as you will probably get stuck without a grounding in XHTML and CSS.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple, but elegant solutions, June 30, 2004
By 
David Powers (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Web Standards Solutions: The Markup and Style Handbook (Pioneering Series) (Paperback)
Dan Cederholm runs a company called SimpleBits, and that's the philosophy that runs through this book: keep things simple. Don't let that deceive you, though. Simple doesn't mean plain or boring. In fact, Dan offers some very elegant solutions to common problems - styling navigation lists, pull quotes, and table-free layout. He also shows you how to style tables with CSS, as well as exploring uses for some of the lesser-known semantic tags for text layout.
The book is targeted mainly at web designers who haven't yet taken the plunge with CSS, or who are finding it hard to get to grips with. By taking things in small bites, he shows that CSS doesn't have to be complicated; and he warns against the disease that seems to affect many new converts to CSS - becoming "class happy", where classes are liberally spread through web pages with greater abandon than old-style font tags. Jeffrey Zeldman's Designing with Web Standards argues the case with passion. Dan Cederholm just quietly gets on with the job - and very effectively, too. Each chapter is short, and to the point. I enjoyed it thorougly.
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37 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Simple, solid, practical, August 13, 2004
By 
Foti Massimo (Vezia (Switzerland)) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Web Standards Solutions: The Markup and Style Handbook (Pioneering Series) (Paperback)
Unlike many other authors, Cederholm doesn't try to evangelise the readers about standards, he limit himself to simple, solid, practical advices. The material inside the book isn't very advanced or sophisticated, but it remains very relevant and can help developers getting out of bad and outdated coding practices.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A terrific book for intermediate web designers, June 17, 2006
By 
Amazon Customer (Redmond, WA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Web Standards Solutions: The Markup and Style Handbook (Pioneering Series) (Paperback)
Web Standards Solutions is an essential book for anyone who designs websites with CSS or wants to learn how. It's a solid book on CSS, and perfect for someone who is familiar with the basics of how CSS styling works, but is looking to learn how to use it effectively in real-world designs. But while this is an excellent book on CSS, it is a groundbreaking book on HTML.

This is a perfect second or third book on HTML. Everyone who works with HTML ought to have a nice big reference book, such as O'Reilly's "HTML & XHTML: The Definitive Guide." Many people also have some kind of "Learn HTML Fast!" book. After you've worked your way through those and understand how HTML works, "Web Standards Solutions" is the book to have. It won't teach you how to write a web page: it will teach you to write a better web page. This book goes through repeated examples of how you might want to format some piece of information -- a list, a heading, a quotation, emphasized text -- and goes through various possible ways of makring it up. Cederholm explains the advantages of using HTML tags that imply meaning like "li" or "strong" over tags that imply presentation like "span" or "b". He also has a lot of coverage of useful semantic tags you may not be familiar with, such as dictionary lists, fieldsets, table captions, and citations, as well as discussion about how to use semantic tags to make your site more accessible to alternative browsers, such as screen readers for the blind and older browsers that don't support the latest design techniques.

The whole first section of the book is focused on producing effective semantic markup, along with some good examples demonstrating how that markup can be styled in various ways. The second section then goes on to cover additional CSS topics that don't require any changes the underlying content. Separate stylesheets for printing, producing an overall page layout, elaborate text styles, and replacing text with images are all covered.

This book won't teach you a huge arsenal of advanced CSS design techniques used by cutting edge professionals, but if you work through what's presented, you'll have a solid foundation, and you shouldn't have any trouble understanding new techniques you read about. The one real weakness of this book is that while it teaches a good selection of individual elements and techniques, it doesn't focus on putting it all together into building cohesive pages and sites.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why use CSS? Read this book and find out, November 11, 2005
By 
hoosac (Morris Plains, NJ USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Web Standards Solutions: The Markup and Style Handbook (Pioneering Series) (Paperback)
I read this book from cover to cover, and was sorry to see it come to an end. I don't say that about too many books, let alone computer manuals, but this is one is exceptional. Prior to reading Web Standards Solutions, I had never found a good rationale for using CSS. Oh sure, it's the new web standard, and everyone will say it's the right thing to do, just like eating your spinach. But no one had ever shown me what CSS is good for until Dan Cederholm came along.

Here's the reason, in four words: It makes things easy.

If you have been struggling with tables nested in tables nested in more tables, with pieces of images here and bits of images there, and font declarations everywhere, all so that you can make things line up nicely and make your pages look attractive, be aware that there is a way out of the wilderness. Dan Cederholm can show you how. In the process, he has created a fine example of the way a computer manual ought to be written.

The first section of the book deals with using CSS to mark up various elements of a page, including lists, headings, forms, anchors, and, yes, even tables. The second section broadens the scope to consider how CSS can be used to structure larger things, like an entire page. For example, there's a very good (and simple!) section on how to set up a page with a header, footer, and two columns. By adding a few lines of CSS, the two-column layout can be turned into three columns. And with no tables at all. Hallelujah.

Each section of the book starts with an explanation of what he would like to accomplish -- create a menu, for instance, or apply a font style to just one page on a site, or one element on a page. He then shows you several ways that you can use CSS to do this, and goes over the pros and cons of each. The code is always simple, even though the results are impressive, because CSS allows you to do these things easily. But to keep you from going astray, Mr. Cederholm first shows the basic code, then adds one feature at a time, and shows the result of that. All of this is presented so clearly that it's trivial to understand, yet highly effective when you see what he's accomplished.

As for caveats, there are only a couple. It should be emphasized that the book is an introduction to CSS; if you're looking for a comprehensive guide to every feature of the language, you won't find it here. The book will definitely whet your appetite, and make you want to learn more, but you'll need other manuals to take you further.

I was also going to say that CSS veterans probably won't find much that is new here, but on second thought I'm not entirely sure of that. There are a lot of nifty ideas in this book. Mr. Cederholm was the designer for the Fast Company web site, and he shows some of the problems he encountered when architecting that site, and the solutions he came up with. They are clever and simple, but not necessarily obvious.

If you're debating whether to buy the book, take a look at a sample chapter on the author's web site. I did, and was so impressed that I went ahead and bought the book. I suspect you will, too.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars useful and practical book for newly converted CSS believers, September 5, 2004
This review is from: Web Standards Solutions: The Markup and Style Handbook (Pioneering Series) (Paperback)
very useful and practical book on CSS-based layouts. it compares alternative ways to 'markup' (write your html) and to 'style' (write your css). what i love about it is that it presents the pros and cons of each real-world methods, then you'll be able to figure out which is best for your specific purposes. and makes you smarter for next time.

most methods presented are the right way to do it, while few are hacks, but it'll tell which is which. an easy read, the kind you can jump from one chapter to another. infact so easy i finished half the book before i got it to the cashier (oops, sorry i didn't order online).

who is this book for? probably not ideal if you're not yet a believer of web standards. not for experts, as they may have read the same material when it was discusses in the author's site simplebits.com. but most suitable for those who just converted to CSS tableless design and curious to know exactly how others are doing it.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Solid if not exhaustive or succinct, May 11, 2008
By 
Ben (Brisbane, Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Web Standards Solutions: The Markup and Style Handbook (Pioneering Series) (Paperback)
Web Standards Solutions is reasonably solid title that discusses the benefits and approaches of using web standards in the design of (X)HTML markup. CSS is also covered as a means to remove presentational elements from web page markup. Lists, tables, headings, hyperlinks, forms, quotations and layouts are all covered to a foundational level.

The information covered in the book is especially suited to new web site designers who are yet to understand these concepts. Web application developers - who might not focus their craft on the quality of their markup, would also benefit greatly. For others already possessing an basic understanding of semantic markup and presentation through CSS, the book might contain a few useful tips only.

Throughout each chapter the book doggedly follows a pattern that can become tedious. For each chapter, non-standards approaches are considered before the 'correct' standards based approach is shown. After this the 'extra credit' portion of the chapter provides practical applications of the given solution. Whereas the correct solution and extra credit sections are useful, the repetition of the defective non-standard approaches for in every chapter is sometimes repetitive and slightly contrived, and could be discussed more casually as required without dominating the format of every chapter.

Having said that, the book is easily read, has examples and practical applications, covers the breadth of the topic well and could certainly be used to bring anyone up to speed on the basics of standards-based approaches to the web page markup development.
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Web Standards Solutions: The Markup and Style Handbook (Pioneering Series)
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