- Hardcover: 368 pages
- Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 1st edition (May 11, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780321503633
- ISBN-13: 978-0321503633
- ASIN: 0321503635
- Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 0.9 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #985,986 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Refactoring HTML: Improving the Design of Existing Web Applications 1st Edition
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“Wow, what a compendium of great information and how-to’s! I am so impressed! Elliotte’s written a book whose title comes nowhere near to doing it justice. Covering much more than just refactoring, this book explains how to do it right the first time around, in a clear and lucid voice. Harold obviously knows his stuff. A must-read!”
–Howard Katz, Proprietor, Fatdog Software
“After working with people who require the skills and tools necessary to continually improve the quality and security of their applications, I have discovered a missing link. The ability to rebuild and recode applications is a key area of weakness for web designers and web application developers alike. By building refactoring into the development process, incremental changes to the layout or internals efficiently averts a total rewrite or complete make-over. This is a fantastic book for anyone who needs to rebuild, recode, or refactor the web.”
–Andre Gironda, tssci-security.com
“Elliotte’s book provides a rare collection of hints and tricks that will vastly improve the quality of web pages. Virtually any serious HTML developer, new or tenured, in any size organization will reap tremendous benefit from implementing even a handful of his suggestions.”
–Matt Lavallee, Development Manager, MLS Property Information Network, Inc.
About the Author
Elliotte Rusty Harold is an internationally respected writer, programmer, and educator. His Cafe con Leche Web site has become one of the most popular sites for information on XML. In addition, he is the author and coauthor of numerous books, the most recent of which are Java I/O (O’Reilly, 2006), Java Network Programming (O’Reilly, 2004), Effective XML (Addison-Wesley, 2003), and XML in a Nutshell (O’Reilly, 2002).
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Harold explains in clear and strong terms why you should clean up your webpages. Mostly by using CSS and by making [and checking] that the pages are well formed and valid under XHTML. This is not a text on CSS, and if you are going to follow the precepts of the book, you will need another book, dedicated to CSS. The strength of Harold's message is in the clarity. He is trying to influence you in a top-down manner. To make these strategic decisions.
For example, by going with CSS, you simplify maintenance. Because files are factored into CSS files, which layout people can work on, and semantic content files, which can be the purview of others who are more involved with intrinsic information processing. The latter files also have the advantage that they can be used with different types of display devices and programs, and not just for the typical web browser. Think of cellphones, or devices for the blind.
The last aspect is another salient point he makes. Writing pages that are also accessible to the blind is not just good for that reason. It lets you focus not on what the page looks like, but on what it means. Why is this good? Because it improves the chance that search engines will look at and positively classify your semantic files. Search engines often deprecate presentation instructions and CSS files. They are also looking for files with high semantic content.
Also, by factoring using CSS files, the resultant set of files gets to be smaller, which reduces outgoing bandwidth from your web server. For large popular sites, this can be a cost saving.
While the writing of well formed and [better yet] XHTML-valid pages increases the chances that different browsers can accurately show the pages. The reason is that browsers have been written to pragmatically show HTML, where the tag structure is sloppy. To do this, a browser has to make certain display assumptions with a badly written file. The problem is that different browsers make different assumptions. And so some HTML files will not display well, or at all.
There are also other smaller level tips scattered thru the book. Like suppose you have an image that shows essentially only text. Replace the image with text. Less bandwidth is consumed. Plus search engines don't really do much with images. [Image analysis is very intensive and hard.] So giving them more meaningful text instead of images helps your page ranking. As a side note, some spammers do precisely the opposite. They have images which are mostly to display text. To evade a search engine or antispam software that keys off suspicious text.
In related wise, your image tag should always have an alt attribute describing the image. Helps the blind visitor. But mostly it helps a search engine classify the image.
Another example of how technology can be used for completely different and opposite purposes!
It is an _excellent_ tutorial on modern xHTML for those that have used HTML from its tag-soup beginnings. He methodically gives examples on why we, as web programmers, need to utilize a particular technology (CSS, Accessibility, etc). For example, he doesn't just say "Use CSS" because its the new way of doing things. He gives no-nonsense specific examples in bandwidth savings, alternate devices, etc.
His writing style is easy to read for computer geeks: a signature trait of any Martin Fowler signature series book.
He also provides a series of regular expressions that you can use to search through your HTML code to find problem areas and does a good introduction to the program "tidy". Since I am definitely _NOT_ a Regex geek, these are highly appreciated.
And finally, he shows usage of some xHTML tags and attributes of which I was not aware: such as proper usage of <acronym/> and <abbr/> tags.
Onto the downsides:
Originally I purchased this book thinking that I would be able to use it to get some tools under my belt to better transform the lousy auto-generated HTML that most graphics tools export and update them to decent, modern xHTML. However, the author is definitely NOT a "graphics design guy." And because of that, I know that several of the solutions he provided in his CSS sections would NOT fly with the designers where I work.
If I had seen his website, I probably would have realized that he was an XML expert instead of a design expert and wouldn't have gotten my hopes up. So far, I've found that websites like "A list apart" are much better for working with CSS-based design.
So for those looking to refactor your HTML code from ancient "Tag Soup" to modern sleek xHTML, this is a great book. If you're looking for how to best refactor from table-designs to table-less while maintaining a similar Look and Feel that you've been given by your designers, I find this book highly lacking.
Harold's is a well known name in the XML world, and that background shows through in how he approaches the book. While a general audience will probably find useful content, the reader needs to be prepared for a series of command-line and Java-based examples. Tools like tidy are featured prominently, as is the use of regular expressions to seek out broken code to fix and, in the music-to-my-ears category, automated testing.
If you're equipped to do so, following these steps will lead to much cleaner, more manageable sites, but I found myself wondering how many of those comfortable with command line tools and regular expressions are in the market for a book like this.
In general I suspect the key audience for this will be IT departments inside large organisations tasked with refreshing or extending an intranet. For those developers, who maybe don't spend much of their time working with HTML and like the idea of using scripting tools similar to those in their regular workflow, this book's worth a look. If you're already familiar with current trends in web development, then there are probably other ways of picking up on the scattering of techniques that might be new to you.
Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of this book for review by the publisher.