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CSS: The Missing Manual 151

Posted by samzenpus
from the lost-and-found dept.
Michael J. Ross writes "Ever since Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) first appeared on the Web scene in the late 1990s, a plethora of books have been written and published that purport to explain how CSS works, and how to make it work for you. So why would any publisher decide that what the technical world needs is yet another CSS book? Perhaps because they have taken a close look at the bulk of those available titles, and found them to be wanting — filled with overly theoretical explanations and sample code that is far too focused on some pet domain of the author. Such books may be adequate for the veteran Web developer, who has the time and inclination to separate the wheat from the chaff. But developers new to CSS need much more approachable material, with clear examples. Perhaps that is the thinking behind CSS: The Missing Manual." Read the rest of Michael's review.
CSS: The Missing Manual
author David Sawyer McFarland
pages 494
publisher O'Reilly Media
rating 7
reviewer Michael J. Ross
ISBN 0596526873
summary An accessible guide to using CSS with HTML.


Written by David Sawyer McFarland, CSS: The Missing Manual is published by O'Reilly Media, as part of their Pogue Press series, under the ISBN 0596526873. It first came out in August of 2006. The publisher maintains a Web page for the book, where visitors can find a link to register their copy of the book (does anyone do that?), a page for submitting errata (none yet, as of this writing), a form for posting a review on the O'Reilly site (again, be the first!), and a sample chapter (Chapter 1: Rethinking HTML for CSS) as a PDF file. There are also links for purchasing the book in the U.S. or the UK, and for reading the online version, as a part of O'Reilly's Safari service.

The book's 494 pages are organized into 14 chapters and three appendices, grouped into five parts. In addition, there is an index, as well as a terse but meaty introduction, which even includes a summary of HTML. The humor for which the Missing Manual books are known, begins early, in introduction, though in this case probably not intentionally: Page 9 claims that the book "is divided into four parts," and then lists the five parts. Before commenting upon those five-ish four parts, it should be noted that the table of contents runs seven pages, listing the book's parts, chapters, sections, and subsections. Future editions of the book would benefit from an overview table of contents, similar to those used in an increasing number of technical books, to good effect.

The 14 chapters cover most if not all of the essentials: writing HTML for CSS; creating styles and style sheets; determining what to style; using inheritance; using cascading; formatting text; setting margins, padding, and borders; styling graphics; styling links and navigation bars; styling tables and forms; creating float-based layouts; positioning page elements; creating print stylesheets; and writing maintainable CSS code. The three appendices include a CSS property reference, a discussion of CSS use in Dreamweaver version 8, and a listing of CSS resources to supplement the book.

On the positive side of the ledger, the author does a commendable job of clearly explaining all of the essential topics that the typical developer would need to understand in order to begin developing a robust Web site based on HTML and CSS, or reworking an existing site that is in desperate need of an overhaul. The clear explanations and bite-sized examples demonstrate that David Sawyer McFarland is not only an experienced Web developer, but likely has spent considerable time explaining to others how to do the same — as a writer, trainer, and instructor. This book is not his first, for he has previously written Dreamweaver: The Missing Manual.

One valuable aspect of the book under review, is that McFarland discusses how to overcome the most commonly encountered browser problems, in which Web pages employing CSS are not being formatted as one would expect and as specified in the CSS standards, by misbehaving browsers (that means you, "Internet Exploder"). Moreover, the book is also one of the first to document the significantly enhanced, long overdue, and welcomed CSS support in version 7 of the most commonly used Web browser (yes, we're still looking at you, "Browser by Bill").

The book is one in a series of many so-called Missing Manuals, whose tagline is "The books that should have been in the box," and whose Web site characterizes them as "Warm, witty, and jargon-free, [with] enough clarity for the novice, and enough depth and detail for the power user." In many respects, McFarland's latest contribution matches that description. In addition to the straightforward and yet comprehensive discussions of each topic, the author imbues his writing with a bit of humor, without overdoing it, or trying too hard, as is sometimes seen in other books covering subjects that admittedly can be quite dry.

On the negative side of the ledger, someone — or, more likely, some committee — somewhere along the decision chain, stipulated that almost every page of the book should be formatted so that the outside 1.5 inches, which is the easiest for a reader to see, should be consumed by a mostly empty and useless gutter, the bulk of which is filled with a light gray bar. This pushes the text, which slightly more than 4.5 inches wide, further in, toward the book's binding, and thus more difficult to read. This is true even though O'Reilly has wisely chosen to use RepKover, a flexible lay-flat binding. This exasperating style of layout is not characteristic of O'Reilly's books, which are generally much easier to read, with more sensible margins and often larger font.

One of the first principles taught to those learning Web design, is to avoid using white text on a black background. Such Web pages usually try to appear cool and edgy, but instead often comes off as immature in the eyes of an Internet veteran, and sinister to the Internet newbie. It doesn't work on Web sites, and it doesn't work in Web books. Sadly, O'Reilly chose to use white-on-dark-gray for many of the book's sidebars, making them difficult to read, especially as the sidebar text font size appears to be a bit smaller than that of the regular text.

In a nutshell, the content of this book is excellent, while the presentation of that content leaves much to be desired — ironic for a book focusing on CSS, whose primary purpose is to modularize and simplify presentation, neatly separating it from content. Ranking the content and presentation on a scale of 1 to 10, I would give them 9 and 5, respectively. Yet on balance, just as is true for most Web pages, the content is more important than its layout and other aesthetic considerations. CSS: The Missing Manual is a well-written, lighthearted, up-to-date, and easily accessible guide to modern CSS and how to use it in the real world.


You can purchase CSS: The Missing Manual from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.
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CSS: The Missing Manual

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  • Now if only (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thrillseeker (518224) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @04:01PM (#16054824)
    *all* browsers implemented it per the W3C standard.
    • by Tackhead (54550) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @04:15PM (#16054931)
      > *all* browsers implemented it per the W3C standard.

      That's what's so beautiful about standards. There are so many implementations to choose from!

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by hclyff (925743)
      Now if only *all* browsers implemented it per the W3C standard.
      Now if only we could make gold out of pig dung.

      Anyone wanna bet what's gonna come first?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by 8ball629 (963244)
      *cough*IE7*cough*50%*cough*
    • by rthille (8526)
      Unfortunately, that would require that someone go back in time and have Tim Berners Lee implement CSS in 'WorldWideWeb.app' on NeXTStep. In which case, we probably still wouldn't have the WWW...
  • writing HTML for CSS; creating styles and style sheets; determining what to style; using inheritance; using cascading; formatting text; setting margins, padding, and borders; styling graphics; styling links and navigation bars; styling tables and forms; creating float-based layouts; positioning page elements; creating print stylesheets; and writing maintainable CSS code.

    Granted, I probably learned all of this in CS101, but if I need to remember how to do something, I typically perform a google search inst
    • Keep in mind... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bjk002 (757977) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @04:15PM (#16054930)
      For you and others like you, there are those who read through all these manuals cover to cover, figure it all out, and answer all the forum questions so that you may "google it".
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        For you and others like you, there are those who just happen to know everything, write it all down, and sell it to you so that you may "read it".
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        Very true. Unfortunately when I find my exact question, the most common answer I find is "why don't you google before you ask your question?" Good thing there are manuals!
      • Re:Keep in mind... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Peaker (72084) <gnupeaker@yahoo.DEGAScom minus painter> on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @09:08PM (#16056637) Homepage
        I have responded to quite a few questions in quite a few forums over the years.

        It requires knowledge. Knowledge is not necessarily achieved by reading manuals cover-to-cover.

        My knowledge is almost entirely obtained from experience, trial and error, and reading random web tutorials, articles and sources.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by DaveWick79 (939388)
      I use google most of the time as well, but there are quite a few users who would prefer to have something organized and indexed in book form than to weed through several pages of google search results. There is something easier about pulling a book off the shelf, finding the section on print stylesheets for example, and having everything about it right there on the page to reference while you are hammering away at the keyboard...
      • There is something easier about pulling a book off the shelf, finding the section on print stylesheets for example, and having everything about it right there on the page to reference while you are hammering away at the keyboard...

        That's why I have my bookshelf where I can reach out and grab a book without getting out of my chair or leaving the desk. Occasionally I'll google for an answer but I prefer a book with a good table of contents and index, it's usually when I don't have the book or the table or

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by suggsjc (726146)
      Agreed.

      However, there are still lots of people that like print. Plus, it is very convenient to have it all in one place. There are great CSS sites, but they usually only cover a few aspects, and even fewer very well. So, for true newbs having a single place to get "all the details" could be beneficial.

      Speaking of googling for technical info (or really anything), while it is obvious to some (most /. readers) **how** to search. It goes completely over others heads. For instance, I know that if I was
    • Granted, I probably learned all of this in CS101, but if I need to remember how to do something, I typically perform a google search instead of paging thru a "missing manual". But, for those that prefer paper, this looks good.

      Google is good for specifics, books are typically better at handling the why, wherefore, and "how does this fit into the big scheme" questions.

      I find that most online resources are very good about the "how", but fall far short on explaining the "why" / "where" / "when" questions.
  • Ahh (Score:5, Funny)

    by dduardo (592868) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @04:08PM (#16054884)
    Now I know why IE has such bad CSS support. The IE team lost their copy of the CSS manual!

    Now that is has been found, they can get back to work.
    • The reason the Windows IE had such bad CSS support was because they didn't work with the Mac IE team. IE 5 for the Mac had better css support than any Windows IE, except maybe IE 7?

      Falcon
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        The reason the Windows IE had such bad CSS support was because they didn't work with the Mac IE team. IE 5 for the Mac had better css support than any Windows IE, except maybe IE 7?


        Well, IE 7 reportedly only supports 50% of the CSS standard, so if Mac IE 5's CSS standard is worse than than IE 7's, then it would still be pretty awful.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by falconwolf (725481)

          Well, IE 7 reportedly only supports 50% of the CSS standard, so if Mac IE 5's CSS standard is worse than than IE 7's, then it would still be pretty awful.

          IE 5 for the Mac supported xhtml, ECMAScript, nearly all of CSS1, much of CSS2, and most of the DOM according to Jeffrey Zeldman [zeldman.com]. So, I guess IE 7 doesn't support standards as much as IE 5 for Macs did.

          Falcon
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by 6Yankee (597075)
      There's an acronym for IE's CSS "support": WYSIWTF
  • Damn (Score:5, Funny)

    by Winckle (870180) <mark@nOSPAM.winckle.co.uk> on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @04:10PM (#16054898) Homepage
    I was hoping for a book to help my FPS gaming :(
    • Counter Strike: Source...the missing manual...lol
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by blackholepcs (773728)
      Well, if your a twitch gamer, you can improve your twitch with any good porno book. One hand at a time, or both at the same time if your pretty well endowed. Of course, being as this is /., I have to assume that your vertical twitch rate is already nearing escape velocity.
    • by creimer (824291)
      Try looking under strategy guides instead of web standards (or lack thereof).
    • When you can remove the mouse from my hand, it is time for you to leave
    • by Yvan256 (722131)
      I was hoping for a book to help my FPS gaming :(
      What the heck is frames-per-second gaming?
  • The best CSS manual (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Here is the best manual, from W3C themselves:

    http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-CSS2/ [w3.org]
    • by Carewolf (581105)
      That one is quite bad though. It is so bad in fact that the edited corrected version of it (CSS2.1) is still not considered good enough for release.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by soliptic (665417)
      Obviously I can't argue with the spec as being definitive in theory, but in practice I find this the best manual:

      http://dezwozhere.com/links.html [dezwozhere.com]

      When I give people this link in response to CSS queries, I'm fond of adding "if you can't answer your CSS question within three clicks of that page, your question has no answer (or you chose the wrong three clicks)".
  • Welcome to my hell. (Score:5, Informative)

    by iiii (541004) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @04:16PM (#16054936) Homepage

    CSS is a great idea, but doing it in practice blows because the browsers vary so much in their implementation.

    The most useful thing I have found to help is QuirksMode Browser Compatability Tests [quirksmode.org]. I think this guy is insane to have spent so much time testing every single feature in (nearly) every browser, but it is very, very useful to see exactly which browsers support what.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      CSS is a great idea, but doing it in practice blows because the browsers vary so much in their implementation.

      I actually find CSS to be very simple in practice, for automated styling and real world use with one caveat: I don't support IE. Seriously. I just follow the spec and it looks great in every browser out there, Firefox, Opera, Safari, whatever. For IE I make sure it sensibly degrades to plain, unformatted hypertext with a note that IE is broken and users should upgrade to any other browser.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @04:32PM (#16055048)
        Must be nice to not have to maintain public-facing pages for a large company, or otherwise actually be in the web business.
        • by Abcd1234 (188840)

          Must be nice to not have to maintain public-facing pages for a large company, or otherwise actually be in the web business.


          Yes. Very. *shudder*
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Must be nice to not have to maintain public-facing pages for a large company, or otherwise actually be in the web business.

          True. The network security industry usually won't touch IE with a 10 foot pole. We had a really critical IE bug in one of our Web UIs and no one found it for more than a year, until someone used a legacy machine in their testbed as a convenient terminal.

          The sad thing is, if all the major companies would pledge to adhere to Web standards and use them along with the aforementioned dow

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Siberwulf (921893)
            I personally don't think pain is going to bring about change. I work in the web business and develop .NET applications. The actual functionality isn't an issue across browsers, but yeah the apps I make break in FF, Opera and Safari.

            That said we can't afford to not cater to IE users. They make up over 95% of clients. I haven't yet heard a complaint or seen some feedback come through our form stating "omg I gotta use IE!!!"
            • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @05:32PM (#16055461)

              I personally don't think pain is going to bring about change.

              But you'll never know because you will bend to MS's lock-in strategy.

              The actual functionality isn't an issue across browsers, but yeah the apps I make break in FF, Opera and Safari.

              Umm, then yeah it's an issue.

              That said we can't afford to not cater to IE users. They make up over 95% of clients.

              You must have an unusual site then. Most sites and statistical studies show all versions of IE combined at about 80% of Website hits. As for affording to not cater to them, it all depends upon how you market it to customers and the type of site you run. A simple, "This Web page uses advanced Web 1.5 features from the 1998 standards. Your current browser is out of date and may be insecure. Click here to upgrade if you want to view all formatting properly." might be viewed as a feature, rather than a nuisance, especially if a coalition of major sites decided to do it all at once, so they would no longer have to pay double the development costs to reach the whole market.

              I haven't yet heard a complaint or seen some feedback come through our form stating "omg I gotta use IE!!!"

              Really do you track that? I know I used to complain when any company I did business with tried to make me use IE only, although now there are more options for everything so I normally just assume they are incompetent and probably clueless. Given that, I don't want to trust any data to them, so I just go elsewhere. Try monitoring the number of hits you get using alternative browsers, which then don't hit again with IE from the same IP address. It is not hard with some basic statistical trackers that you can grab for free. You might be surprised how much business you're losing. The other issue is, alternative browsers often represent the more affluent parts of society. Apple laptops accounted for 20% of laptop sales last month and almost all of them will be using Safari. How many of those people are the ones with lots of disposable income? As I said before, it all depends upon what type of sites you make.

              Personally, I'm very happy I no longer have to bother working around all of IE's failures. It has cut my workload down to less than half of what it was. I just wish everyone could have the same easy development I do, without having to worry about anything but clearly documented standards.

            • by killjoe (766577)
              Your customers may not be complaining but they may be walking away. Telling 5% (more like 15% for me) of your customers to fuck off is not such a good idea.
            • by Phillup (317168)
              I haven't yet heard a complaint or seen some feedback come through our form stating "omg I gotta use IE!!!"

              Maybe because they do what I do... simply take my business elsewhere.

              I'm not going to waste my time or money dealing with people (or businesses) that can't get the obvious stuff right.
              • by Siberwulf (921893)
                See, thats not the case. How do I know this? The application we have has 143 patents pending on it at the moment. We'd know if some other company was doing what we do. They don't take their business elsewhere. They either do business with us, or they don't do business. Now, that sounds incredibly fat-headed. I apologize, but thats honestly the case. We are in a position to pick and choose our clients, like they can pick to use us or not.
                • by Phillup (317168)
                  See, thats not the case.

                  See, it is.

                  I've already said I don't do business w/ people that don't get the obvious stuff.

                  So... If for some reason you are the only people that can make a thing-a-ma-jig... I'll just not get a thing-a-ma-jig.

                  See how that works?

                  Even tho you may have a monopoly on thing-a-ma-jigs... you don't have a monopoly on thinking. And, I'm a firm believer in TMTOWTDI.

                  And, I can always just buy more toilet paper if I absolutely have to spend my money somewhere.

                  You've made the mistake that many
        • by WebCowboy (196209) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @07:19PM (#16056134)
          ...provided you remember to pack your SPF100 sunblock and plenty of water.

          Must be nice to not have to maintain public-facing pages for a large company

          Yes, it is quite nice not have to maintain such a site, since most "public-facing pages for a large company" are notoriously and unnecessarily complicated and standards-broken. Furthermore, it is false to say that these sites are broken becasue they must cater to IE. It is in fact the other way around--IE is broken because of the incompetence or (false) laziness, impatience and hubris of the designers and maintainers of these big public sites. MS is to blame for applying sinister "embrace and extend" strategies to its product, however by far the primary responsibility for the current messy state of affairs lies squarely with the codemonkeys who vomit forth the tag soup that all too often continues to pass for web pages today.

          Let me explain: when then-leading Netscape introduced nonstandard extensions to HTML, or incorrectly or poorly implemented the standard, rather than report it as a bug web authors actually EMBRACED these quirks rather than working around them or otherwise ignoring them. For example, early web developers heavily abused non-semantic and sometimes annoying proprietary tags like CENTER and BLINK, and went as far as to do atrocious things like nest their content in multiple BODY tags with different BGCOLOR attributes to do useless crap like fading and flashing the screen. The result of this was to not only let Netscape neglect bugs, put to put pressure on Netscape to RETAIN the bugs so as to remain "compatible" with such perverse tag soup!

          The phenomenon proved to be viral--in the interests of matching leader Netscape's "feature" set, Microsoft went ahead and emulated all that malarky on purpose in IE! Furthermore, MS realised that nonstandard extensions were rather easily embraced by stupid lazy tag soup codemonkeys. This was a great opportunity to embrace and extend the WWW with such atrocities as ActiveX OBJECTs and heavy promotion of CSS-like styles long before the CSS standard was established. The latter action was particularly incideous because it allows MS to say that they "support standards" when in fact they sabotage them. Rather than warning web authors to use caution with stylesheets until the CSS style was standardised, they went ahead and made sure it was getting well established so that when changes were made to their proposal for CSS was modified by the W3C. By doing that they ensured that their own inconsistent application of CSS would be the de-facto standard and they could let slide any fixes to *actually* follow standards.

          So please, make your best effort to break this evil cycle and do NOT design for IE. This doesn't mean that you should let your site break IE or make it look crappy--what it means is do NOT use IE during development without regard to standards then worry about degrading gracefully in other browsers. Instead use FF or another more compliant browser during development, and regularly validating your code using the W3C validation tools. THEN, when you test against IE (this is the real world, so you can't ignore it as the grandparent post implies) you make sure it degrades GRACEFULLY in IE, and do it WITHOUT relying on sneaky CSS bugs and breaking standards.

          Yes, you CAN write totally valid XHTML and CSS that looks attractive and retains enough functionality in IE to satisfy your audience. Here are some approaches I have taken in the past:

          * Avoid the use of CSS features that are standards but not widely implemented in IE or other mainline browsers, at least for important presentational aspects (anything more than eye candy).

          * Do NOT strive to make the page appear or function fully and exactly the same in IE as other browsers--just make sure it doesn't look "broken" in IE. MS has deliberately "dumbed down" their pages for non-IS browsers in the past (even when other browsers were perfectly capable of handling the page as designed for IE). Given
      • by Scarblac (122480) <slashdot@gerlich.nl> on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @05:05PM (#16055285) Homepage
        If you don't support IE, you're not talking about "in practice."
      • by soliptic (665417) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @05:52PM (#16055589) Journal
        Actually I can go one better than that, I think.

        I follow the standards and still have it looking decent in IE. I never use "IE hacks" (as in deliberately malformed statements or comments), and I never use browser detection (both are basically a bit retarded imho) -- but I can still get the pages to look OK in IE, served exactly the same (validated) CSS.

        There are just a few caveats:
        • Be prepared to abandon hope of absolute pixel-level control over everything. Seriously, if you want that, go into print design, that's not how the web works.
        • (Sometimes this one works as an OR to the above point...) Fix the box model by adding an extra non-semantic div. Simple as that. Voila, no more broken box model, but no invalid CSS full of Tantek hacks [tantek.com] either. I don't know why more webdesigners are so against this. Banging on about favouring standards, yet they'd rather deliberately break (invalidate) their own CSS than add a single non-semantic wrapper div? I never quite grasped that. The broken IE box model is responsible for the vast majority of places where pixel-accurate control breaks down between IE and, well, the rest. Of course, it doesn't help fix your 3-pixel jog [positioniseverything.net] (for example), but it certainly cuts out the biggest offenders.
        • Be prepared to lose a few bells and whistles - for example, no :hover pseudoclass on arbitrary elements. So you can't have table cells that change color as you mouseover. This is pure candy though, so I'm prepared to "not support" IE in this regard. The overall layout/style is exactly the same, so it's not like I'm making IE degrade to "plain, unformatted hypertext" as you suggest - just they miss a few tiny "cherry on top" effects.
        • (Again this is a bit of an OR to the previous point) - use javascript. For example, get the effect of arbitrary :hover by using suckerfish [htmldog.com] javascript techniques.
        And before anybody asks, yes, I do maintain public-facing web pages for a large organisation.

        Admittedly our main website is horrible non-standards HTML4 with patchy use of hack-filled CSS, but I didnt design it, and I can't fix it because even when I enter valid markup, our lousy CMS (built firmly on the MS stack with the MS toolchain, just to feed your prejudices) will bodge it up for me. Grrr.

        But the new microsites I design are 100% standards compliant and they look 99% the same in IE or Moz/etc. My management wouldn't have it any other way.
        • Do you have a link or more info on this non-semantic div fix for IE's box model? Thanks again!
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by soliptic (665417)
            See "box within a box" at the CSS-wiki discuss page on the box model [incutio.com] - as that page notes it's not without it's own drawbacks ("The only issue is that this is done within the HTML markup, rather than the CSS. Many people consider this to be bad practice, because years down the road, when a hack is finally cleaned from your code, a CSS hack is quickly removed, while markup hacks are scattered hither and yon. Plus it complicates the HTML, structurally speaking.") but I personally consider that a lesser of two
            • by soliptic (665417)
              And in digging up that link I discovered the tantek hack is apparently valid [tantek.com] CSS, which rather undermines my original point! Still, see AvoidingHacks [incutio.com] if you like the train of thought anyway.
              • by Optic7 (688717)
                Thanks!

                Weird, I had posted another reply to your original message thanking you for your post, but I guess I must not have hit the submit button. Anyway, it was just thanking you for an encouraging post for a CSS beginner after seeing so many posts complaining about CSS.
    • Yeah, I agree with your sentiment mostly. For me, though, the thing that turns me off is the slowdown that seems to occur from most implementations of it that I've come across (*cough* Mozilla *cough*). With pages loaded with fancy CSS, I find myself manually turning styles off in my browser so that I can actually navigate the page.

      But, yeah, this has nothing to do with the standard and everything to do with the implementation (for the most part, anyway).
  • Too many CSS and Javascript books out there already.

    And way too many half-baked blogs out there on both subjects as well.

    Where are all the Really Good(tm) books and sites?

    Mumblefuhtz...
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by antiWack (1000628)

      Books:
      The Zen of CSS Design, Eric Meyer on CSS. Two excellent books to get you started. The concept of CSS layout design is the big hurdle, once you figure it out, it's a breeze and quite fun.

      Websites
      www.w3schools.com - Excellent for html too. Read up here about semantics. http://www.w3.org/Style/Examples/007/ [w3.org] - Something else from W3C. This shows you some stuff you will need once you start getting the concepts of CSS down.

      Here's some advice from me: Start with healthy HTML. If your HTML is not

      • The Zen of CSS Design

        How can you mention that book without providing a link to the CSS Zen garden [csszengarden.com]?
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        The concept of CSS layout design is the big hurdle, once you figure it out, it's a breeze and quite fun.

        How is the concept of CSS layout hard? It's not even complicated.

        Making CSS actually do the things that you want it to, that is hard. Especially since no browser properly handles CSS. NONE. Except maybe Opera, which at least can pass ACID2. Still, if you do anything even slightly complicated with positioning in Mozilla/Firefox/whatever, it will get it wrong. You will have to use hacks.

        This is no

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Kelson (129150) *

          no browser properly handles CSS. NONE. Except maybe Opera, which at least can pass ACID2.

          No, not even Opera. Keep in mind that Acid2 is not a compliance test. It tells you that the browser handles a certain set of HTML, CSS, protocols and errors properly, but it doesn't indicate full and/or proper implementation of any level of CSS.

          There's a great set of comparisons at WebDevout.net [webdevout.net] (surf around the site for more detailed tables). Opera 9 is certainly in the lead with 94% of CSS 2.1 by that site's me

    • Too many CSS and Javascript books out there already.

      And as we all know, having choices SUCKS!

      Seriously, how is this different from any other computer-related topic? There are zillions of Java books, only some of which are useful to you. The book that is useful to me may not be useful to you. There are Missing Manuals, Head Start, Head Rush, Visual Quickstart, Nutshell, Definitive Guide, Cookbook, Hacks, for Dummies, for Smarties, Programmer to Programmer, and many other different styles of computer bo

  • What about the missing standard compliancy?
  • by heffel (83440) <dheffelfinger@@@ensode...net> on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @04:34PM (#16055059) Homepage Journal
    As usual, Amazon [amazon.com] has it cheaper than BN ($23.09 vs $27.99)
  • Dvorak already decided we don't need CSS.
  • What would be nice is something like Java's API or Sun's Javascript Reference for CSS. But I really don't see a need for a new book on the matter... googling "CSS" suffices. I kind of feel like this is simply an advertisement for the book. Dan
    • But I really don't see a need for a new book on the matter... googling "CSS" suffices.

      Googling for you may be fine but many of us, including me, want hardcopy. For one staring at a long screen of text hurts my eyes and others have the same problem. Two, I learn and retain better by doing. I've been looking for a good book on CSS, one with exercises. I'll then be able to read the book and do the exercises as I read. With a book I won't have to think about eye strain or switching between windows. Sim

  • # man css
    No manual entry for css

    Hmmm, guess they were right.
  • Why are there so many books about DVD encryption algorithms?
  • Comma Chameleon (Score:2, Informative)

    by GreyDuck (192463)

    "The humor for which the Missing Manual books are known, begins early, in introduction, though in this case probably not intentionally..." [...] "This pushes the text, which slightly more than 4.5 inches wide, further in, toward the book's binding, and thus more difficult to read."

    Speaking of "more difficult to read," while I'm as big a fan of using commas as the next talentless hack, maybe this review could've done without roughly half of the little buggers that are sprinkled throughout.

  • CSS Zen Garden (Score:3, Informative)

    by cruachan (113813) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @06:10PM (#16055727)
    Manuals are fine, but most can be replaced by the various excellent websites around - w3schools is mentioned below and I'd agree with that.

    However for some inspiration about what CSS can do for you a trip to the CSS Zen Garden at http://www.csszengarden.com/ [csszengarden.com] is worth a thousand pages of dry css scripts. The recently published book 'the Zen of CSS design' is also excellent - http://www.amazon.com/Zen-CSS-Design-Enlightenment -Voices/dp/0321303474/ref=sr_11_1/102-7311422-8694 536?ie=UTF8 [amazon.com] and adds a lot to what's available on the site.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by falconwolf (725481)

      Manuals are fine, but most can be replaced by the various excellent websites around - w3schools is mentioned below and I'd agree with that.

      Books can't be replace for all people. Though I have Zen Garden bookmarked if I read much I have to have hardcopy to read from otherwise I get eye strained and will get a headache. Looking at little bits and pieces on a screen is alright but longer pages play havoc with my eyes. Also if I'm trying to learn something I much prefer to have a book to go through especi

      • One could, of course, print out a hard copy from a webpage. :-/

        That said, I have to agree. Webpages are a good supplement to books, but not a replacement.
        • One could, of course, print out a hard copy from a webpage. :-/

          That said, I have to agree. Webpages are a good supplement to books, but not a replacement.

          Yea, I mentioned printing out a page. And if it's only a few pages then you're saving trees, a better way to save trees is to use hemp to make paper with, this way instead of buying a book. However unless you're a natural organizer if you're printing out a lot you may find it hard to find a printout later, I think books are much better as a refere

          • I must have missed that part. The other advantage of books for me is that I tend to skim less with them.

            I wish they would convert over to using more rag, linen, and hempen paper for books. Wood paper has poor archival properties, in addition to putting an awful strain on the forests. I'm not opposed to harvesting of trees (my grandfather was a sawyer and a logger), but I hate the wanton destruction of trees just to produce largely disposable paper products.

            You're right about reference. I'd much rather

            • linen, and hempen paper for books.

              Same here, and not just for books but for writing and printing. I'm not sure about rag but there are linen and hemp papers available for writing and some specialty shops have linen paper for printers though I don't know if they have any hemp paper that can be used in printers.

              Falcon
  • The book is one in a series of many so-called Missing Manuals, whose tagline is "The books that should have been in the box,"

    My internet didn't come in a box... it came in a tube!
  • by Andrew Tanenbaum (896883) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @07:15PM (#16056115)
    I love chapter 13 of this book, which explains how to nest span tags to display tabular data. Finally, web 2.0 is here.
  • I guess users of the O'Reilly Safari online-service have to wait for this to become available..
  • Not related to the book, but it's a CSS question after all.

    I have 3 divs. A main div which encloses the other 2. One is floated to the left, one to the right.
    If i don't set a height on the container div, on firefox the divs will grow out of the bottom border of the div, but on IE6 the container grows automatically. OK, i just set overflow:auto to the container div and both browsers work fine.

    But, if i put content to the left div, and use the right div for images and such, the right div wont grow to match th
    • by rathehun (818491)
      1. Floated elements are out of the normal "page-flow". Use a clearfix, or as you stated, an overflow: auto.
      2. Why would the height of your right column depend on the height of the left one? See if faux-columns help you better.
      3. Ah, I read the rest of your comment, and you don't want to fake it. See the css-D wiki for "Equal Height columns". [1]

      [1] http://css-discuss.incutio.com/?page=AnyColumnLong est [incutio.com]

  • Ever since Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) first appeared on the Web scene in the late 1990s, a plethora of books have been written and published that purport to explain how CSS works, and how to make it work for you.

    So then this isn't the "missing" manual, it's a "new and improved" manual.
  • ...every page of the book should be formatted so that the outside 1.5 inches, which is the easiest for a reader to see, should be consumed by a mostly empty and useless gutter, the bulk of which is filled with a light gray bar.


    "I have a truly marvelous stylesheet that solves all of IE's CSS problems, alas which this margin is too narrow to contain.

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