Author: Matthew MacDonald
Publisher: Pogue Press, 2nd Edition, 2009
Aimed at: Web builders who want to understand the technology
Pros: Good explanations of narrow range of topics
Cons: Choice of subject matter seriously flawed
Reviewed by: Ian Elliot
It starts off with an orientation chapter - browsers, web servers and so on. Then it explains, all about creating your first web page using raw XHTML and a simple text editor. Chapter 3 discusses putting your page on the web and this is a useful discussion of how to find a host and matching what you need with what they offer. Chapter 4 considers "Power tools", i.e. HTML editors - most people would consider these essential tools rather than power tools.
Part 2 of the book is called Building Better Web Pages but it is really just a continuation of the look at XHTML started in the first part. We look at XHTML and the way it works with CSS to create a viewable web page. Topics covered include graphics and linking to pages. At the end of the section the difficult topic of page layout is tackled using both the old-style tables approach and the new CSS approach.
Obviously the tables approach seems easier to the beginner and to be honest I have to say that CSS approach isn't really explained well enough and lacks a good example. The topic of multiframe pages is also discussed and, despite a comment about multiframe design not being a good idea at the start, this chapter seems to encourage the user to understand and use frames.
Part 3 moves into territories more suited to the non-programming beginner - how to market your site. This goes through all of the standard ideas on how to get visitors to your web site and successfully warns the beginner of most of the tricks that people suggest that are more likely to get them banned than more visitors. It also covers the difficult topic of making money from what your web site. This makes it sound exciting and lucrative - rather than the difficult and disappointing task it usually is.
Part 5 closes the book with a look at blogs and blogging. At this point I was expecting the author to launch into a description of how to write a blogging application from scratch! Fortunately the section covers some standard blogging tools and opts to use Blogger as an example.
OK - now does this sound like a negative review?
As regards the book's contents, the explanations are well written, engaging and there are lots of asides and comments which illuminate or expand on the ideas being explained.
What all this means is that if you are the right reader wanting to know what the book tells you then it's great - but don't buy a copy if all you want to do is create a web site. For this book to deliver for you it is essential that you want to know how it all works at the most basic level.
Recommended but not to complete beginners or to anyone not interested in the technology.