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Beginning CSS Web Development: From Novice to Professional Paperback – August 23, 2006

4.5 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

In October 2006, Simon Collision started Erskine Design based in Nottingham, U.K. which grew to become an eight-strong team of creative web designers and developers who are afraid of nothing. Some people say they're one of the best agencies out there, and their clients include major magazines, government stuff, software companies and polar explorers.

Moons ago, he was a successful visual artist, and founded an independent arts org and annual arts festival, putting his degree to some use at least. Then he caught the interwebs bug.

As lead web developer at Agenzia from 2002 to 2006, he worked on numerous web projects for major record labels (such as Poptones, Universal) and bands (including The Libertines, Dirty Pretty Things, Beta Band), visual artists and illustrators (Jon Burgerman, Paddy Hartley, Lucy Orta, NOW Festival), businesses, community, and voluntary sector orgs, passionately ensuring everything was accessible and complied with current web standards.

He does a bit of public speaking here and there, and will generally do anything for a biscuit and cup of tea, but prefers hard cash.

He has lived in many cities, including London and Reykjavik, but has now settled back in his beloved Nottingham, where the grass is green and the girls are pretty. He also drives a 31-year-old car, and has a stupid cat called Bearface.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Apress (August 23, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590596897
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590596890
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,408,206 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
"Beginning CSS Web Development: From Novice to Professional" by Simon Collison is the perfect book for newcomers to CSS and for those slightly more-experienced CSS designers who need a soup-to-nuts review.

The book is very well organized, easy to read, easy to digest, and well edited. The progression of chapters is logical, as the book flows from CSS mechanics to layout and design concepts. Topics are covered completely yet succinctly; at just over 400 pages, this is not a typical, bloated computer book. Coverage is complete, however, and nothing seems to be left out. There's a very useful, 15-page CSS reference guide in the appendix, and URL's for many third-party articles and examples are provided throughout the text.

Collison's writing style is relaxed, clear, and appropriately humorous. He even tells you (often -- he's English!) when's a good time to grab a cup of tea. He presents complex topics very clearly, using progressively built-up examples to keep thing clear. Learning CSS from a designer like Collison is so much better than learning it from a programmer, because the designer will teach you why, when and how to apply certain styles, while the programmer will only teach you how; Collison accomplishes the former with aplomb.

The case study in the final chapter is really excellent. Despite the very professional appearance of the sample site, every technique used to create it is indeed covered in the preceding chapters. (If you want to get an idea for how much the book will teach you before you buy it, skim through the last chapter or download the accompanying files from the publisher's website. It's impressive.)

I have only two negative criticisms -- and these are minor.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is ideally suited for those who are still using table based layouts. If you are familiar with tables and want a smooth transition to table free layouts, that are easy to manage, this book is a must have.

Coming from a background of using table layouts and a bit of CSS, mostly for fonts, I found that the writing style of the author was very clear. In particular, I like that the author writes a code snippet, explains it, demonstrates it, then as he progresses, repeats the process pulling all the snippets together to render the final / polished results. I only had to refer back to a previous chapter just a few times, when tackling a new topic.

In reality, it took about 4-5 days to complete the book -- that is reading the book in its entirety, something as a programmer, I rarely do, skipping about finding only what applies to me. You will need to read the entire book to get a full understanding of CSS because each section throughout the chapters builds upon each other.

The book does discuss when it is acceptable to use tables in VERY rare situations; mainly when working with tabular data. The only section I had difficulty with was the different types of positioning, static, fixed, absolute and relative. I had to do a re-read several times, with patience, but I got a grasp on it -- a topic that is completely confusing to covey for any author.

I would also recommend that if you decide to purchase this book, go ahead and buy Pro CSS Techniques, as you will need it for more advanced issues, such as dealing with browser quirks, hacks and filters. Buying them together will save you some time.
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Format: Paperback
Finally, I have a book that I can recommend to someone as *The* first CSS book.
The first indication to me that this was an excellent purchase was the fact that Simon started off this book with a strategy as to how *organize* your CSS!
After all, it's a Given that throughout the years you will be spending as a web designer, that you will be continually adding to your collection/library of CSS code! So you've got that excellent foundation of Simon's seasoned experience in how to best structure your growing library of reusable and specific-purpose CSS.

Also, some instant gratification, for me at least: Early in my reading, I was happy to come to the very clear distinction between How to use, When to use, the Id (the pound sign) and the Class (the period). It made me feel like a CSS Pro from the get-go.
-How does that "em" thing really work? Read this book.
-How do those tedious margin and padding properties work? Finally, no more trial and error with these CSS properties. YOu'll know how these work.
-Ever wonder what are good Fonts to use, so that you can finally build that "ultimate template" CSS file which will serve as your starter CSS for every new project? Simon will let you know. (Verdana is one of them)

I'll stop here and just mention that there's nothing to criticize here. And trust me, there's more complex subjects than just the above.
I still even now pick up this book, because I have the convenient "CSS Reference" section marked with a label. Since the book is relatively small compared ot the large CSS books out there, it's easy to physically pick up and utilize this CSS Reference.

I also have CSS Mastery which was co-authored by Simon. I'd recommend that highly too when you get around to it.
( I wish this book were available 4 years ago, when I thought I was smart enough to dig right into one of the professional CSS books, just because I knew programming languages such as c and python )
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