CSS 3 in Easy Steps

Author: Mike McGrath
Publisher: In Easy Steps
Pages: 216
ISBN: 978-1840785418
Audience: Web beginners
Rating: 4.5
Reviewer: Ian Elliot

CSS 3 is just as important to creating a web page or a web app as HTML and JavaScript. You really need to understand it and this book is an introduction.

CSS 3 enables you to do some quite amazing things that previously would have needed JavaScript. It enables you to implement animations and make things react to the mouse or touch without the need to write event handlers. This particular book, however, is much more of an introduction to CSS with a few CSS 3 features tacked on at the end. This isn't necessarily a bad thing - as long as you aren't expecting it to be a CSS 3 master class with the emphasis on 3.

 

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It starts out by considering what CSS is, but without enough emphasis on its role in combination with HTML and JavaScript. It concentrates on how you load a style sheet. Then it moves on to the obvious and important topic of the selector. It covers simple selectors and more complex examples such as relationship and attribute selectors. None of the examples are very complex and the whole thing applies to CSS before version 3.

Next we move on to styling a content box - size, padding, margins etc. This is the sort of thing you probably know if you have just picked up some HTML by using it. The next section is on a topic that confuses a lot of programmers - layout. It explains how to center content using the usual margins:auto trick.  Of course CSS 3 also has the box-pack and box-align properties but while these solve the problem in a more direct way they are not supported by all browsers as yet. This is the problem with CSS 3 and the book does that right thing by explaining the "old" way of doing things but if you were expecting cutting edge CSS 3 you might be disappointed.

 

 

From here we move on to text and the troublesome topic of fonts. Then comes a section on table layout and one on generating simple effects using pseudo selectors etc. 

Section 8 is on enhancing content and this starts to get into real CSS 3 with a look at rounded corners - hardly rocket science but we had to wait until CSS 3 before it was an easy job. 

Section 9 continues the CSS 3 theme, but with the title "looking ahead" you might think it was CSS 4. This is where we meet the dreaded browser prefixes. You could say that if you have to use a browser prefix then the feature isn't ready for the mainstream, and so perhaps it is a feature for the future. However, most of these features are mainstream CSS 3 and again to find them at the end of a book on CSS 3 might disappoint some readers. 

Topics covered includes image borders, gradient fills, column layouts, flexbox, grids, transforms, transitions, animation and so on.  These are some of the CSS 3 features that are used in many of the showcase demos and if you were hoping to learn about them from this book you need to know that they are covered in a relatively short space.

The book closes with a look at some general topics such as resetting the browsers style, writing good CSS and how to customize pages for different media. 

Because I have been critical of the lack of in-depth coverage of cutting edge CSS 3, you might think that I don't like this book. On the contrary it is a very good book as long as you want to find out about CSS as it is mostly practiced at the moment plus a brief look as some of the new CSS 3 features. In other words, it is a good and reasonably up-to-date introduction to de-facto CSS. The explanations are mostly very good and the examples are small and to the point. 

If what you are looking for is a beginners, concise, introduction to practical CSS then this book should be high on your list. 

 

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WebGL: Up and Running

Author: Tony Parisi
Publisher: O'Reilly
Pages: 230
ISBN: 978-1449323578
Audience: JavaScript programmers
Rating: 4.5
Reviewer: Mike James

 

Can you learn WebGL without getting involved in the very basic nuts and bolts like shaders and so on?



Beginning ASP.NET 4 in C# 2010

Author: Matthew MacDonald
Publisher: Apress, 2010
Pages: 1016
ISBN: 978-1430226086
Aimed at: All ASP.NET programmers
Rating: 5
Pros: Comprehensive, up-to-date and well explained
Cons: Heavy
Reviewed by: Ian Elliot, January 2011

 

During 2011 we've published over 250 book reviews. To round of the year w [ ... ]


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