As you may be aware, I write for CSS3.info every now and again. Joost, the brains behind the site, rewards me for my work by sending me the occasional web development book; I’d do it for free, to be honest (don’t tell him that, please), but it’s a nice little bonus.
The latest book I’ve received is The Art & Science of CSS by Cameron Adams, Jina Bolton, David Johnson, Steve Smith and Jonathan Snook. The subtitle — Create Inspirational, Standards-Based Web Designs, sums up very nicely what it’s all about.
The book is well laid out, with plenty of full-colour illustrations and clear code examples. It tackles seven key elements of web design and development — Headings, Images, Backgrounds, Navigation, Forms, Rounded Corners, and Tables — and presents the latest thinking and techniques on the best way to implement them.
It focuses on simple methods which use minimal, standards-based markup, showing how they work across different browsers and working around their limitations without using hacks. Where presentational markup is required for the examples, explanation is always provided as to why that’s necessary.
I would say that it’s aimed at post-beginners (is that a word?); that is, it assumes you have a slightly more than passing knowledge of CSS, but perhaps haven’t been using it regularly. In all honesty, if you’ve got a few years experience under your belt and read plenty of websites and blogs to keep your arsenal up-to-date, there probably isn’t much in here that will surprise you.
Having said that, the techniques shown are all good, solid, commonsense methods, and it’s always worth keeping them in mind when starting a new project. The chapters on Forms and Tables were particularly useful to me, as they are elements I probably spend less time on than I should, and I think I’ll be referring to them regularly.
I’d recommend this book without hesitation to anyone who is keen to take their CSS skills onto intermediate level and beyond (and would further recommend Dan Cederholm’s Web Standards Solutions as a companion volume); if you’re a more experienced professional it’s not an essential, but certainly worthy of a place on your bookshelf.