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on March 7, 2010
Please read Bulletproof Web Design before you read this book. This one picks up where the first left off. It is ideally for people who already have web sites up and running, and who want to add "Progressive Enrichment" to their sites, i.e. code improvements that will enhance a web page on browsers that know what to do with that code, but will degrade appropriately on those that don't.

Cederholm's real focus is on craftsmanship, and this book is not unlike the kind a woodworker may read to get ideas on how to add expert touches of real craftsmanship to his own works. Other books that I have mention some of these CSS3 techniques, but Cederholm goes a little deeper and with working examples, recognizing that even though they're not part of the current standard, several current browsers already do include them, so why not use them?

I am excited by Cederholm's view that questions why we should try to make web pages that look identical on every browser. Cederholm makes a compelling argument, even while considering the objections to such a view.

All in all, an excellent book to have in one's web design library.
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on November 4, 2009
Mr. Cederholm's "Handcrafted CSS" is an excellent work literally guaranteed to provide new insight. His writing style is one that is easily read...and easy to continue reading. Such a style is highly instructive while being enjoyable prose. There are new "tricks" galore in this book. However, as a caution, to get the most out of this book, one should be fairly competent in CSS. The author states as much early on. The book is rated "intermediate to advanced" and deserves that rating; not so much because the material is difficult but because it is written with the understanding that the reader is at a certain level of expertise and thus it avoids a lot of redundant elementary detail and goes right at some new CSS3 tricks and effects...and they are useful!
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on March 5, 2011
Dan knows his stuff. His writing is informative, the FINISHED site template is clean and well-thought out and there are numerous examples of best practices and favorite sites on the web to illustrate his points. Well what could possibly be my problem? The code! The examples in the book are poorly structured to follow along. He jumps from one topic to the next. Would it really have been too difficult to break the code into chapters, maybe providing a start.html file as a launching point for each example? Even a helpful caption or two to go with the illustrations would have been helpful. Perhaps a line number referring to the code? Nope, all you get is the finished home page for the example site. It's up to the reader to figure out what goes where. New chapter, new example, same code.

The book provides just a rudimentary fragment of html as context for each example, this code written on the page looks nothing like the printed sample, it only looks like the finished part of the site. Good for the author, it was easy for him, but now how do I get there? A clue please? Maybe just a hint? How do I make my code look and act as shiny as yours?

I guess (it's never explained) that we're supposed to comment out the finished css and attempt to work along. I started to do this, but as a beginner I messed up a few times not knowing what code referred to what and I finally got exasperated with css that had nothing to do with the chapter that I was working on. I tried. I tried again. I failed. There's got to be a better way to learn than going round and round in tortured circles like this.

I really want to like this book, there's so much content and insight but the code structure makes it infuriatingly tedious.
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on August 18, 2012
I've just scanned through this book and it looks excellent.

There is a template to download and some illustrations for the visually inclined which this book is designed for, hooray!
How many books have you picked up with no resources to download!? Annoying - like the latest (3rd edition of Bulletproof Web Design) which feels to me unfinished and hurried.
The second edition was fine - get that one.

Handcrafted feels like there was care and craft involved in its production.

For me this looks like the best thought out CSS book for people wanting to learn the craft. I learn't type in the photo-type era and the craft from internationally recognized creatives. It is encouraging to see craft re-emerging. That's why I've bought to many books on CSS because it taps into my passion. Thankfully I found this Book as most the others left me a little wanting.

I would marry this book with something like a reference book with a really good index like Beginning CSS Web Development, CSS the missing manual (great reference manual) and something like CSS Pocket Reference by Eric A. Meyer (any of his books). For visual thinkers who want to grasp markup visually go get transcending CSS by Andy Clarke.

If you know the foundations and want to get into the meat and potatoes this is for you. It looks fairly up to date even though it's 2009. It wouldn't take a giant leap to add responsive principles to the books examples.

The books that get very romantic and philosophical like 'Responsive web design' are fine if you are established in the field.

Handcrafted has a nice balance between practical examples, color graphics and inspiring quotes which will feed those who love the craft.
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on December 12, 2014
This is a great book, and an excellent resource for CSS at the time it was written. I learned a lot of valuable little tricks that I still use frequently. It seems to have been written right at the early stages of CSS3, so the version I have is a bit weak there, but it's an otherwise good book to have on the shelf.
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on October 6, 2009
I always love to read how a CSS master works and I found many of Dan's tools and tips extremely useful in furthering my already above average knowledge of CSS.

This is not a "step-by-step how to build a website using CSS" book, this is for folks who already understand CSS well. This book helped me reorganize my mind when it comes to CSS.

I'm a big fan of Dan Cederholm and will always buy his books because I like how he thinks. If I ever bump into Dan at SXSW I will buy him a beer.

The only reason I'm not giving it 5 stars is because I found it a bit short. I'd always like to read more of what he has to say.
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on January 4, 2010
A fan of Bulletproof Web Design, I was looking forward to Handcrafted CSS and it did not disappoint. In addition to the code examples, I appreciated Cederholm's "progressive enrichment," "re-evaluation of past methods and best practices," "80 percenters," "fluid grids," and "craftsmanship."

"Progressive enrichment," for example, uses the border-radius property to achieve the visual reward of rounded corners on buttons in browsers that can handle them with CSS. The site displays attractively in all browsers with square corners on buttons in browsers not progressive enough to display the rounded corners. This example also illustrates "re-evaluation of past methods and best practices." Rounded corners on buttons can be achieved with graphics, but they lock in color which can only be changed be manipulating the images. With progressive enrichment, the button colors can be changed easily in the CSS.

Ethan Marcotte, in "The Fluid Grid" chapter, demonstrates that the key to non-fixed width layouts is font size. By setting all font sizes in context relative to a base font size of 100% and also setting percentage-based values for the columns of the grid, the proportions of the grid stay intact as it resizes.

My favorite detail in Cederholm's final chapter, "Craftsmanship Details," is his recommendation to "use the best possible ampersand" by building a font stack in the CSS based on order of "interestingness" of the ampersand. An interesting ampersand is well worth the trouble as I found out last year before I had read Handcrafted CSS. I had developed a header for a second website without the "interesting" ampersand which I had used in the original website, and the first thing that the client said upon seeing the second header was that he wanted the same "and sign" that the original header had. What fun for Cederholm's ampersand discussion to confirm my experience!
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on April 2, 2011
I teach a beginning CSS class at the Lifelong Learning Center in Missoula, Montana. My students are mostly small business folk who don't intend to become full time geeks, although about 10% of them do go on. Some of them end up working for me!

With that market in mind, the first chapter of this book is exactly what I needed for an exercise that runs through a series of "what ifs" in a small, manageable piece of a web page. The other exercises I have are for whole page layout and understanding the big picture of CSS. The bigger projects tend to set my student's heads in a spin. This little piece is a great complement. It's also a great way to discuss that being "professional" means paying attention to the details.

This book goes on my "highly recommended" list!
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on April 1, 2010
Not useful whatsoever. Basically this guy goes about how HE would code things instead of doing best practices and explaining why. Waste of time and money.
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on May 7, 2015
Dan guides you along multiple examples and tricks in the world of css. It is certainly not an exhaustive Css reference but, it helps reinforce and refine what you know. Dan does all of this in an easy to read and humorous manner.
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