Book Review: The Ultimate CSS Reference

by Louellen Coker on August 21, 2009

Tommy Olsson and Paul O’Brien, two leaders in the Web design industry, put their heads together to create the aptly titled [amazon-product text=”The Ultimate CSS Reference” type=”text”]0980285852[/amazon-product], a useful tool that would be a good addition to any designer’s library. Olsson is a pragmatic evangelist for Web standards; O’Brien is a freelance Web designer specializing in CSS layouts.

Fulfilling the promise of its title, this book is indeed a well-organized reference depicting everything CSS with multiple examples. Its language is straightforward rather than lighthearted (the authors’ personalities appear only in the introductory “About the” section). The book’s organization makes information as easily findable through the table of contents as it is through the index, with each element handled identically and independently.

Olsson and O’Brien provide a brief but thorough discussion of each CSS keyword, selector, pseudoclass, and attribute found in CSS1 through CSS3. You find for each item examples of how to use it, CSS specification/version from which it came, a brief description of how or why you would use it, compatibility with the most widely used browsers—Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, and Opera—in multiple versions, and reference to other relevant material within the book.

Of great use is the scattering of numerous references to W3C recommendations and to Web sites exhibiting compatibility issues and differences between the manners in which various browsers handle CSS. Although you won’t always find a “how-to” solution to a particular issue, you will likely discover why you are experiencing the issue. Additionally, the authors guide you to other related sections in the publication that will help you resolve your issue.

As with anything dealing with Web development, change is inevitable and rapid. You can keep up with CSS evolution at the book’s companion site. Not only will you find the content in a fully hyperlinked and searchable presentation, but you can view feedback from other readers as well as leave your own. The authors welcome your contributions to keep the publication up to date. Should you invest in a concise handling of the facts, features, and oddities of CSS? This book is an excellent resource to have at your fingertips as you design accessible Web sites and deserves a place on your bookshelf beside your dictionary and other favorite references.

[amazon-product alink=”0000FF” bordercolor=”000000″ height=”240″]0980285852[/amazon-product]

This review previously published in TechnicalCOMMUNICATION, Volume 56, Number 3, August 2009, p. 296.

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