Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML

This is an ideal book both for web surfers who are contemplating becoming web authors and also for those who have thrown together a few "web" pages and who would now like to learn how to do it properly.

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Review

This book uses a combination of a whole variety of different techniques to make it fun for a beginner to start learning how to create properly coded web pages. The combination of humour, pictures, asides, sidebars, and redundancy with a logical approach to introducing the basic tags and substantial examples of how to use them will hopefully have the reader hooked in such a way that they don't even realise that they are learning because they will be having so much fun. The practical exercizes that reinforce what is being taught get the reader creating their own properly coded web pages right from chapter one.

The book introduces new concets one at a time in a logical order with each chapter building on what came before. Functional HTML code is introduced first and followed by the (minimal) changes required to comply with the HTML standards and then the further (even more minimal) changes to meet the XHTML standards. The chapters on (X)HTML concentrate on how to mark up your content to identify what it is and the few mentions of the now deprecated presentationa; HTML make it clear why such codings should not be used.

Similarly the CSS chapters which follow present the essential attributes as well as a number of techniques for achieving given effects within the presentation of your page. The book also touches on how not all browsers yet support all of the CSS attributes and discusses how you might arrange your code so that it still looks reasonable on those that have yet to implement some of the standards.

The one spot where I feel that the book fails to maintain its high standard of presentation is in the section dealing with how cascading works on pages 473 - 480. These pages describe the relationship between styles built into the browser, those defined by the page author, and those defined by the person reading the page. The description that the book gives with the author stylesheet taking priority over reader defined stylesheets is exactly in accordance with the stylesheet standards as they were first written and the exact opposite of the way that all borwsers have implemented the cascading order. While the dejure standard may be as discussed in the book, the defacto standard is the reverse with reader stylesheets taking priority over author stylesheets. This may not be obvious to those working their way through the book until long afterwards.

Upon reaching the end of the book the reader should be an accomplished intermediate level web page coder able to produce standards compliant, fast loading, and attractive pages far in advance of what others with a similar amount of coding experience (but without such an excellent series of tutorials to learn from) are able to produce.

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