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A Smarter Way to Learn HTML & CSS: Learn it faster. Remember it longer. (Volume 2) Paperback – March 13, 2015
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Top Customer Reviews
Mark Myers is true to his title's promise. He understands the beginners mind. He explains clearly, defines terms precisely, and with a deft bit of wit and humor sprinkled though out. I especially like his tactics for maximizing learning w/o burning-out: ten minutes of study, followed by 20 minutes of online quizzing. And then take a well-deserved break: walk, pat the dog, take care of other business. Maybe go through it again later in the day, either with new material, or simply refreshing the old.
This is good stuff. I can not believe this book was so inexpensive...yet so full of practical information. This book deserves a place on every beginning coder's library. As Hemingway might have put it "this is the true gin." This book should be flying off the shelves like his Java book.
My advice to a novice learner wishing to teach themselves proper html and css coding: avoid. I have been teaching this subject for many years, and while reading the book, I was a bit dismayed to see the bad coding practices Mark Myers teaches his readers, and all the essential topics missing.
For example, throughout his css he keeps prefixing the tag selector to ID selectors and class selectors, which creates convoluted code, and is just completely unnecessary - in the case of classes it works against recycling css code as well. Other bad examples include overqualified selectors, content style definitions which are reliant on their parent layout container, the use of ID selectors everywhere, and other basic mistakes.
More worrying still are all the missing topics which are quite essential for any beginner to become aware of:
- specificity is nowhere mentioned;
- the box model and its consequences are not explained anywhere;
- margin collapse is ignored;
- responsive design is briefly mentioned, with no real intention of explaining how responsive designed pages actually are setup;
- the concept of validating html and css code is completely left out of the equation (and some of his html examples do NOT validate, and contain errors!);
- and more.
At least inheritance is explained somewhat, and the difference between the block level and inline level display behaviour.
Often very basic explanations are presented of principles which could very well steer a student into a sea of unexpected trouble: for example, at the start of the brief chapter on the doctype (which is only presented near the end of the book), Mark tells his readers that:
"The standard code you find at the top of an HTML document is gobbledygook, but
as a conscientious coder, you’re always going to include it, so you may as well know what
Well, unfortunately, it is not explained at all WHY the correct doctype is important to have - it is not merely "gobbledygook" - it is essential to have to prevent a browser to enter quirks mode and render the page in standards mode. It is valuable for a student to learn about this (since not including it may have consequences how pages render, and the student will be unable to properly validate (test/check) his/her code).
Often essential tidbits of information are just left out for good measure: the brief and severely lacking chapter on media queries does not mention the viewport meta tag at all - without this responsive pages will not even display properly.
The list goes on, and on, and on, and on. Clearfixing remains unexplained. Reset and normalize style sheets, and their use, are never mentioned. How to organize your CSS: no mention of it. Best practice selector naming is left out. Useful CSS3 properties are never used anywhere in the examples, or related browser prefixes. Fonts and web typography are covered in the most basic way, and at least Google Fonts would have been a nice addition.
I understand this book is aimed at the complete novice, but it is a bit mystifying why such basic topics are completely left out, since these will become a major cause of headaches any beginner will encounter at some point.
Often throughout the book I felt the author himself is quite limited in his understanding of html and css.
I can forgive the lack of certain fundamentals, yet when combined with the badly written html and css, I cannot in good faith recommend this book to anyone but to people who wish to only dabble a bit on the side in html and css. Perhaps that is the intended target audience? In that case the author succeeded remarkably well.
In short, in my opinion the author Mark Myers obviously knows how to write a very readable and easy to understand teach-it-yourself book - which explains why many readers wrote positive reviews. Sadly, the WHAT that is taught is severely lacking in quality, often over-simplified, or just lacking essential information.
If you are interested in learning to write quality html and css, stay well clear of this book.
CSS I had never studied from the ground up. I just used it as best I could from seeing how it was used in other code. This book gave me a firm foundation with a good understanding of the whys and wherefores. I have come to see that CSS is elegant, concise, and effective, and have really come to like it.
But beside all the knowledge I gained from this book, I also enjoyed Mark Myers' approach of short lessons followed by online exercises. Not only do the exercises make learning fun, they reinforce the material right away so it sinks in deeper.
After going though every chapter of this book, and enjoying myself while doing it, I at last feel solid on both HTML5 and CSS3.