Adapting to Web Standards: CSS and Ajax for Big Sites

Authors: Christopher Schmitt et al
Publisher: New Riders, 2007
Pages: 288
ISBN: 978-0321501820
Aimed at: Web designers and developers
Rating: 4
Pros: Good all round look at writing standards-based UI
Cons: A little repetitive at times
Reviewed by: Dave Wheeler
Let’s be honest: today’s Web applications should be written to conform to modern standards; you shouldn’t be using tables for layout; you should be writing semantic (X)HTML. And that is very much the message of this book. It’s remarkably easy for us to forget about the browser as we plough through our development with [insert server technology of choice]. After all, so much of the resultant mark up and script code is generated for us that we often barely register the fact that we’re writing Web applications. Schmitt and co really put the focus back on to what our code ultimately produces: the mark up that is rendered in the browser. And the guidance provided, along with the explanations, is very solid. Divided into two main parts, the book initially explains how to write good (X)HTML; how to use CSS; and how to structure and apply any JavaScript that you might want to use. It then goes on to present a couple of case studies to see how these ideas work in practice.
On the whole the book works well. The explanations are clear; the reasoning sound. Occasionally, and this might be a function of the number of authors involved in the book, I would get one of those “Enough already. I surrender!” moments as I read for the umpteenth time about how to name a CSS class or not use an inline style.
This book is not a deep technical reference on CSS and Ajax, and it doesn’t cover the major Ajax frameworks. So if you’re looking for a nuts and bolts book on the technologies, don’t buy this book. However, if you’ve gone beyond the mere mechanics of CSS and Ajax and want to know how to structure your code for the long term, a few best practices, or even if you need to convince your boss about why standards matter, then it makes a great read.

<Reviewed in VSJ>

Last Updated ( Thursday, 15 January 2009 )