Author: Joseph Lewis & Meitar Moscovitz
Publisher: friends of ED, 2009
Aimed at: Users of CSS
Pros: Many interesting ideas
Reviewed by: David Conrad
I started off thinking that this would be a complete waste of time. CSS isn't difficult so how can anyone want or write an advanced book on CSS? After all the key idea is obvious - use HTML for the semantics and CSS for the layout.
My worst fears were encouraged when I started reading Part One which goes over fairly standard material such as markup languages, and CSS fundamentals - selectors and so on. It was presented in a fairly advanced way but in itself it wasn't advanced.
Then I made it to Part Two and if you are in any danger of not reading this book I'd urge you to skip Part One and return to it later. Right away Chapter 3, CSS-Generated Content, starts to deliver new ideas. Yes of course I've always been aware that there was CSS generated content but I hadn't thought about making use of it in this way.
Chapter 4, Optimizing for Print, and Chapter 5, Developing for Small Screens and the Mobile Web similarly made me think about the problems of building style sheets for these particular end points.
Of course if you are already an expert in any of these areas you wont regard them as advanced but if you know general CSS practice as it applies to a web page and haven't thought about how to adapt the layout to these targets this will all be useful and might inspire you to actually do the job! Chapter 6, Managing and Organizing Style Sheets is less of an eye opener but still offers plenty of advice - if only it was as easy to stick to it.
Part Three‚ CSS Patterns and Advanced Techniques, continues with useful practical ways of using CSS. Chapter 7, Semantic Patterns for Styling Common Design Components, deals with implementing microformats and standardising layout for repeating components. Chapter 8, Using a Style Sheet Library, describes how to use pre-build CSS frameworks - YUI CSS, 960 Grid and BluePrint CSS - to implement grid layouts. If this idea hasn't occurred to you then it should and this chapter explains both the idea of using a framework and the whole idea of grid layout principles. Chapter 9, Styling XML with CSS, is a bit of a detour into XML, XHTML and SVG. Finally we have Chapter 10, Optimizing CSS for Performance which is again a collection of useful techniques that you are probably going to forget to implement.
The final part of the book The Future of CSS was for me the least interesting but its short and gives you the information you need on what is in CSS 3 and makes some observations on the future of the web.
At the end of the day I can't say that I've been convinced that CSS has an "advanced" side but then when you know how it works nothing seems advanced. This is a great book if you understand the basics of CSS and want your eyes opening to how it can be used.