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CSS Cookbook, 3rd Edition

October 24, 2010 · Posted in Bestselling Cooking Books 


Product Description
What people are saying about CSS Cookbook “Christopher’s fantastic cookbook will give you solutions to pretty much all of the CSS problems you’ll come up against in your day-to-day web design work, saving you bags of time and frustration. This guy is one of the industry’s brightest minds — he really knows his stuff.”

–Chris Mills, Opera Software

Learn how to solve the real problems you face with CSS. This cookbook offers hundreds of practica… More >>

CSS Cookbook, 3rd Edition

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5 Responses to “CSS Cookbook, 3rd Edition”

  1. E. Wuehler on October 24th, 2010 4:59 pm

    I think I’d generally agree with the previous positive reviews. You should already be familiar with CSS, JavaScript and HTML – this is not a CSS starter book. It’s more geared toward start to finish answers for common CSS questions, most of which I found I could easily adapt to my level of understanding. There is an in-depth description about how to create a very nice looking calendar with CSS (using HTML tables) which I liked a lot. However, for me personally, I will probably stick with O’Reilly’s CSS: The Definitive Guide.

    I’m sure it was done for monetary reasons, but it would have been nice if the figures were in color – or at least the figures supporting the elements that deal with color. It was tough to distinguish between shades of grey or follow the arrows with the words “blue” or “green” on one end pointing to an area. I know, I know, picky picky. :) So – while I’m being picky… :) The foreward mentions “…compiling hundreds of CSS recipes into this single book” – but by my count, there are only 89 Problem/Solution/Discussion sections (aka recipes). I would like to have seen “hundreds of CSS recipes”, which would have provided greater variety to the solutions.
    Rating: 3 / 5

  2. R. Sobkoviak on October 24th, 2010 6:18 pm

    O’Reilly’s other books on CSS tend to be more for reference and learning, but this book, by Christopher Schmitt, contains good, practical advice for putting CSS to use. And as a bonus, this book covers the brand-new CSS 2.1 conventions. Like other “Cookbook” tech books, there are plenty of real-world cases and blocks of code that designers and developers can use or adapt in their own situations. There are plenty of “Hello World” examples that will be useful to those new to CSS, but there is some advanced material, too, for those at intermediate levels looking to spread their wings a bit. This volume bookends quite nicely with the “Eric Meyer on CSS” books.
    Rating: 5 / 5

  3. Alan C on October 24th, 2010 7:27 pm

    Of the various recipe-style books about CSS that have appeared in recent times, this one is probably the best. It covers a variety of realistic requirements, from “web typography” (large first letters, highlighted first lines, fancy pull quotes etc) to several different kinds of menus and multi-column page layouts. Most of the recipes are short but they are also largely self-contained, making them very quick and easy to use. This format makes me prefer Schmitt’s effort to some comparable works, such as Eric Meyer’s two colorful volumes, Eric Meyer on CSS and More Eric Meyer on CSS.

    That said, however, potential buyers of the book should be warned that it has some glaring omissions. While Explorer-like collapsible menus and tab-style horizontal menus are explained, there is no recipe for drop-down or “fly-out” menus. The chapters on table styling and print stylesheets are rather thin, and the chapter on Hacks and Workarounds makes no mention of Internet Explorer’s conditional comments, which, being deliberately-designed browser features, seem like more durable tools than the parsing bugs on which most hacks are based.

    These omissions might be understandable if space was at a premium, but at 252 pages, the book is short compared with most other titles from O’Reilly’s cookbook series. And one wonders why, if useful things had to be left out, the author could still find room for a Javascript-based technique for producing that most annoying of web phenomena, blinking text.

    In the end, I would still recommend the book for people who find that they have to use CSS occasionally, rather than on a daily basis. But the buyer should still be prepared to spend time trawling the web in search of solutions to many problems.
    Rating: 3 / 5

  4. Philip L. Ledgerwood on October 24th, 2010 8:00 pm

    I’ve recently had the pleasure of reading CSS Cookbook by Christopher Schmitt, published by O’Reilly (the people who put animal pictures on their tech books – seems silly, but now you know exactly who I mean, don’t you?). While I do not recommend it as a beginner’s guide to CSS, I recommend it for the bookshelf of current CSS developers, or perhaps if you have a basic knowledge of CSS (maybe you use it control fonts and colors, and that’s about it) and would like to implement even more of your design with CSS.

    The book is meant to be a reference book, but I read it straight through for the purposes of a review. It’s one of the thinner reference books you can buy – weighing in at a little over 250 pages – but it is packed; no long-winded opining, no lengthy sidebars, just a raw: problem – solution – explanation – see also format. This format makes it very easy to look up the specific CSS issue you need insight on and get it.

    The book is divided into various categories of CSS, beginning with typography and other elements, moving along to links, lists, forms, tables, all the way up to a page layout section (if you’ve never used CSS to lay out an entire page, this section alone is worth the cost of the book), then addressing print CSS, browser hacks and workarounds, and then finishing with a brief section of raising various design possibilities that CSS makes possible.

    Each section begins with beginner-level problems, such as how to justify text. The section then gets into mid-level problems, such as CSS rollovers and various uses of background images. Finally, each category will tackle big-boy problems, like how to make a CSS-based splash screen that converts to main content, creating variable-length folder tabbed menu items, and centering fixed-width items in a variable-width area. I feel like I have a fairly good grasp of CSS – I do almost all my pages in Strict XHTML and use CSS for my layout, formatting, the works, and I still learned plenty from this book. If nothing else, it will give you other ideas on how to solve common problems.

    One unexpected value of this book were all the hacks and tricks. As many developers know that peruse various web development blogs, websites, and mailing lists – there are scads of CSS tips, tricks, hacks, and workarounds posted out there, but finding the one you need when you need it can be a challenge. This book contains all the main ones, dealing with Fahrner Image Replacement and its alternatives, CSS “Sliding Doors,” various box-model hacks to deal with Internet Explorer, Netscape 4 hacks and reminders, etc. It’s like someone took all the standard “fixes” for common CSS issues from all the blogs, websites, and mailing lists and put them in this book. For me, that was worth the price of admission.

    I’m not always this laudatory about all tech books. In fact, I’m reading a CSS book right now that has loads of problems. The CSS Cookbook, however, is one I would recommend without reservation or a single “yeah, but…” to my colleagues in web development or students in the field.
    Rating: 5 / 5

  5. Scott Valentine on October 24th, 2010 9:03 pm

    I am becoming a serious fan of the Cookbooks from O’Reilly. They are well-organized, have lots of great tips and recipes, and don’t get bogged down in detail, but still give enough insight to be useful when expanding the ideas.

    The CSS Cookbook from Christopher Schmitt is no exception. It is aimed at developers who know a bit about CSS, but need some reference to solve specific problems, and who wish to view alternate methods to common situations. While this book will not teach you CSS, it is a great desk reference to jog your memory, or reveal some new trick.

    Overall, the CSS Cookbook starts with some basic ideas about typography on the web, something that every designer should be aware of, if not devoted to. It then hits all the usual suspects, including page elements, links and navigation, tables, etc (all listed on the back cover). They way this book is broken down may take a little getting used to, since the focus is more on individual approaches to design ideas, rather than a master list of common complete page layouts. However, the last 3rd of the book gives some great overall information about complete designs, compatibility considerations, and some bit of theory about using CSS effectively.

    Language in this book is neutral, but conversational. It may not have you curled up by a fire on a chilly evening, but it gets the points across very well. Schmitt seems to hit a nice stride with giving you useful information without making it dry or giving in to bad jokes and punch-in-the-arm commentary. Not that these last things are necessarily bad, they just aren’t in Schmitt’s book. That helps make it a great tool to keep close by.

    Something that’s near and dear to my heart is replacing tables with appropriate CSS-Positioning elements. Schmitt does a good job balancing the argument about when to use tables versus divs. While I prefer to use tables for banging my shin against, they are still quite widely used, and merit consideration in certain circumstances. One highlight is his elegant use of styled tables to build a nice-looking calendar. This is something many people will find very useful.

    Other highlights include a great section on column layouts. Not only are the recipes given, but time is also allowed for consideration of challenges with each style, and why some workarounds may be necessary. Another favourite is making print-friendly pages, including forms. Resumes, help files, and reference material could all benefit from such a treatment when presented online.

    I think a pretty good middle range of designers would greatly benefit from the CSS Cookbook, and some advanced people who just need a new idea or refresher now and then. Certainly, one could find more technical or theoretical books on CSS, such as in the Definitive Guide series from O’Reilly, or the W3C-endorsed ‘Cascading Style Sheets: Designing for the Web’ by Lie and Bos. But for practicality, quick solutions, and some great ideas, the CSS Cookbook is a great tool for any designer’s collection.

    I’d say run down to your local bookstore, or check out some of the sample text on O’Reilly’s site and consider putting this one on your shelf.
    Rating: 4 / 5

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