HTML, XHTML, and CSS Bible (Fifth edition), by Steven M. Schafer

by Peter

This is a big and thick book – HTML, XHTML and CSS Bible 740 pages including appendices. It is marketed as a beginner to intermediate book on HTML, XHTML and CSS.

The book provides coverage of these three Web authoring standards, and also gives some coverage of the upcoming releases of HTML 5 and CSS 3. The book also explains the basic structure and necessary formatting to create static and dynamic web pages. What it does is the following:

  • Explores the basics of HTML such as tags, attributes, and how to structure content to create specialized document formatting
  • Shows how multimedia and scripting can be used to make your content dynamic
  • Author, validate, and troubleshoot your coding and documents
  • Enable content for multiple devices—from the standard PC browser to various mobile devices
  • Understand values, lists, colors, fonts, and other CSS metrics and formatting basics

The HTML, XHTML, and CSS Bible is relatively comprehensive, but not nearly as comprehensive as the size and thickness of the book indicates. Once you start reading it, you will find that it wastes space on every page: irrelevant code is included in virtually every example, and sometimes lots of it; the illustrations show irrelevant stuff – like for instance 1 inch of the top of the browser for most web pages shown; there are endless listings of irrelevant stuff that should only have lived with fine print in the appendices.

So, despite its thickness this book never goes deep into any subject, and the coverage of most subjects is, in fact, very thin and, to my mind, not very helpful. It is not good at covering the emerging Web standards. And the CSS part of the book is especially thin and at times somewhat misleading. It doesn’t even give the basics for the simpler of the tableless CSS layouts.

So, I would suggest you move on to other titles if you’re looking for a good reference book or a book that can teach you (in a good way, including teaching you to start doing things right as early as possible) how to build web pages if you are a beginner. This is not a book I recommend.

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