Author: Ian Lloyd
Publisher: Sitepoint, 2009, 2nd edition
Aimed at: Complete beginners
Pros: Clear, well-written presentation suitable for beginners
Cons: Approach advocates hand coding HTML
Reviewed by: David Conrad
This is a really good book but, and it might be a big but, only if you agree that hand coding HTML and CSS is the right way to build a web site. Personally I’m far from convinced that it is – using an HTML page editor seems like a much more sensible way to do the job especially for the beginner or for anyone just wanting to create a one-off web site.
On the other hand if you plan to get deep into web site creation learning HTML and CSS is a good idea because there are always times when you have to hand edit some generated code. This book is, however, aimed at the complete beginner and walks the reader though the stages of creating web pages using a simple text editor and on into the details of using CSS to style the page.
It covers a lot of ground, and even gets as far as form creation, but not to how to handle the form on the server side – use a form handling site is the advice. The same sort of advice is given about adding a blog to your site. If this is a good approach for these problems why not use a web page generating site or site editor instead of diving into hand-coded HTML? At the end there is a short chapter on choosing a hosting service – this probably should be at the beginning.
The presentation of the ideas is always clear and readable and as a result for the right reader it is an enjoyable learning experience. If it seems a little slow at times it’s simply because you are not a complete beginner. When you finish the book you will know enough about HTML and CSS to create a web site and even go off and look up more advanced techniques such as creating column layouts and so on and you should be able to edit generated HTML and CSS. However, what the book doesn’t tell you is what sorts of tools and approaches are available to get you away from hand-coding HTML and CSS and into a more productive mode of working, let alone the fact that there are even higher level solutions such as content management systems.