Creating a Web Site (2e)

Author: Matthew MacDonald
Publisher: Pogue Press, 2nd Edition
Pages: 608
ISBN: 978-0596520977
Aimed at: Web builders who want to understand the technology
Rating: 4
Pros: Good explanations of narrow range of topics
Cons: Choice of subject matter seriously flawed 
Reviewed by: Ian Elliot

This book's title is just one of the problems with it - but at the end of the day is it a good book?

 

Author: Matthew MacDonald
Publisher: Pogue Press, 2nd Edition, 2009
Pages: 608
ISBN: 978-0596520977
Aimed at: Web builders who want to understand the technology
Rating: 4
Pros: Good explanations of narrow range of topics
Cons: Choice of subject matter seriously flawed 
Reviewed by: Ian Elliot

I have problems with this book that aren't really to do with the quality of its content. Before we start to examine the contents of the book it's important to consider what you expect to find in a book on Creating a Web Site? If it is aimed at the non-programming beginner then you probably direct them to a web creation tool or site or at the most technical a content management system like Joomla or Kentico. What you don't do is start to teach them all about HTML, CSS, Javascript and so on - this is hard stuff and it will take more than a single book to teach anyone enough to create their own web site. However this is exactly what this book does.

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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 4 moves back to consider the technology again. This time it is client side Javascript, fancy buttons, audio and video. All exciting stuff but is it really reasonable to place Javascript in front of a beginner who has just had to have the idea of XHTML explained in detail?

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.

If you are the sort of user who wants to know how things work - the HTML, the CSS and the Javascript - then this might be the book for you. But notice that this is just one possible approach to building a web site - you could equally opt for ASP.NET or Silverlight or PHP say. You might also simply pick a web creation tool like Dreamweaver or Expression Blend and ignore the deeper and lower level technologies.

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.

 

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Beginning Android Tablet Games Programming

Author: Jeremy Kerfs
Publisher: Apress
Pages: 187
ISBN: 978-1430238522
Audience: Beginners at game development who know Java
Rating: 3
Reviewer: Harry Fairhead

A book specifically about creating games for Android tablets is a good idea. Is this the one to choose?



Meet the Kinect

Author: Sean Kean, Jonathan Hall & Phoenix Perry
Publisher: Apress
Pages: 205
ISBN: 978-1430238881
Aimed at: Would-be Kinect developers
Rating: 2
Pros: First book available on a hot topic
Cons: Already outdated, lacks code
Reviewed by: Harry Fairhead

This is the first book I've found on the subject of t [ ... ]


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Last Updated ( Saturday, 28 May 2011 )
 
 

   
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