SitePoint – HTML Utopia Designing Without Tables Using CSS 2nd Ed. – Review
In the late 1990’s and early years of 2000, web designers begin to realize that tables needed to go and that there were not too many options to make that even possible. I believe the use of Div’s did not come into play until well after CSS1 was accepted by the designers and software and CSS2 specs were in their beta stages. Either way, once web designers realize Div’s and CSS were the new way of life for a web designer, the hate for tables grew even more as people began the process of converting tables to div.
However, the worse group to hate this process of converting tables to Div’s where the Photoshopper’s and Fireworks users. Naturally, they stayed with fixed table layouts for quite awhile due to the fact there were no quick way to convert that process online or off. However, Dreamweaver CS3 did provide that offline solution for tables to div conversion and Dreamweaver CS4 does this as well, but I have not found any online table to div converters, so I would hope some of my readers might know of such tools.
Now let’s get back to the book, although this is an update to the 2003 1st edition, I am puzzled as to who this book is really for, because you have to groups of designers and obviously neither would need this book unless there were caught in the middle somewhere. However, I do realized that grid layouts and frameworks have become a big deal in recent years and so it would see this could be a practical book to have. Either way, the author of the book says that this book is geared towards the beginners and intermediate designers, but lets be honest there are literally millions of websites that talk about the same thing and you don’t have to worry about dropping down some cash on a book for what you can get for free on the internet.
Regardless though as to how some designers feel, especially yours truly, this is still a great book because it covers a lot of including the proper ways to set up the CSS syntax and making sure you are producing valid coding. Of which this is discussed in Chapter 4. Naturally, I found interesting in Chapter 10: Fixed Layouts and that the author actually recommends using tables especially in fixed paged designs or displaying tabular data. Of course, it does make sense to use tables then, but most designers know that using tables in fluid layouts can be tricky if not bothersome at times and so we mostly use Div’s for such layout. Obviously, W3C realized that people needed tables and so it is still possible to stylize tables and table based designs and so that is why I would find this interesting in a book about using tables designs.
Towards the end of the book they have some great reference pages, such as various colors and their hex number and RGB number as well. The book also includes all the CSS1, CSS2 and some CSS3 properties as well and so if you’re a beginner this is a great place to start to understand the hundreds of CSS properties and how they are coded and what version (CSS1, CSS2, CSS3) that this property is compatible with.
Although the information in this book is great and very beneficial, it could be a hit or miss with designers and though I wouldn’t consider it a Bible of designers, it still is a good reference book to help reinforce those CSS and HTML skills that you might have. Of course, if you still have the first edition of this book then I would highly recommend getting the more updated version, kind of makes sense don’t you think?
You can purchase the book here at the Sitepoint website.
Chapters and Summary:
Chapter 1: Getting the Lay of the Land
This first chapter serves as a brief introduction to CSS and the main concepts that we’ll discuss throughout the rest of the book. If you haven’t used CSS at all before, or you want to ensure that you understand the concepts fully before you get started, this chapter is a great place to start.
Chapter 2: Putting CSS into Perspective
In this chapter, we begin to use CSS in practical ways, and to discuss why we might want to use CSS rather than old-style methods like font tags for text styling, and tables for layout.
Chapter 3: Digging Below the Surface
Picking up the pace, we start to look in some depth at how CSS works. Here, we consider the different ways in which we can add CSS to our documents, we discuss CSS selectors and rules, and we investigate the various shorthand properties that will help us streamline our CSS files. We’ll also come to grips with the concept of inheritance. This chapter ensures that you understand the terminology and syntax we’ll be using, which will make it easier for you to follow examples in this book and elsewhere.
Chapter 4: Validation and Backward Compatibility
In this chapter, we discuss how we can validate our documents and style sheets to ensure that they comply with the published specifications. We also find out a bit about the practicalities of ensuring our sites’ backward compatibility with older browsers or devices.
Chapter 5: Splashing Around a Bit of Color
This chapter looks closely at the ways in which colors can be applied to text and other objects, as well as to page backgrounds. It will discuss how to describe colors, where to use them, and how to make them work together to achieve specific effects.
Chapter 6: Working with Fonts
This chapter examines the question of how fonts can be used properly in CSS-based web design. After an explanation of how CSS deals with fonts at the most abstract level, we’ll look at the use of standard and nonstandard fonts in web pages. Finally, we’ll discuss some guidelines for the selection of font families and sizes for your page designs.
Chapter 7: Text Effects and the Cascade
This chapter builds on Chapter 6, where we looked at text in terms of fonts and their related style properties. Here, we’ll explore a range of other ways in which we can style text, and spend time looking at links and lists, in particular.
Chapter 8: Simple CSS Layout
We start this chapter by creating a simple two-column layout. Along the way, we discover how to use absolute and relative positioning techniques in CSS layouts; how margins, padding, and borders work together; and how we can put all of these techniques into practice by creating a fully functional two-column layout.
Chapter 9: Three-column Layouts
Out first task in this chapter is to add a third column to the layout we created in Chapter 8. We then discuss the issues that arise when we want to add a footer that runs along the bottom of a multiple-column layout like ours. Along the way, we’ll find out how to use the float property to create multi-column layouts, and how to create full-length columns using CSS. We’ll also consider some of the issues that surround these types of layouts.
Chapter 10: Fixed-width Layouts
In this last chapter, we’ll create a fixed-width layout that’s centered in the user’s browser window. As we progress, we’ll look at techniques for styling data tables effectively, and discuss one method by which you can enable your users to choose a different layout if they find your fixed-width layout difficult to read.