I’m obsessed with CSS.
There I said it. I have just about every CSS book that has received good reviews. As a freelance website designer I try to make time in between projects to read these books, pick up new tricks, and brush up on what I already know or may have forgotten. If the book is worthy I throw some bookmarks on important sections, so I can easily use it as a reference in the future.
As I finish these books I will be giving my honest reviews, be it negative or positive. Hopefully this will help you decide if the book is a good choice for you to purchase.
Continue reading for my review of CSS Mastery; Advanced Web Standards Solutions by Andy Budd. ©2006
This book by Andy Budd covers CSS topics from a beginners level to a more advanced level. I’m an advanced CSS user, but I actually enjoyed reading the entire book from cover to cover. I find that reading over things you already know or use is a good idea; you never know when you will pick up a little trick that will save you some time every time you are writing CSS. Plus, if you really do know and use a technique 100%, you can give yourself a pat on the back..haha.
Topics covered in this book include:
- Margin Collapsing
- Box Model
- Using Background Images
- Relative, Absolute, Fixed Positioning
- Image Replacement Techniques
- Styling Links, Lists, & Forms
- Layouts (2 & 3 Column, Elastic, Fluid, Fixed)
- Hacks & Conditional Statements
So you may have noticed the book above has bookmarks on it. That’s my actual copy of the book. When I read a book, I put these bookmarks on the MOST important parts. These are of course the most important to ME, maybe you wouldn’t even care about these topics. I do this so it’s easy to get back to these sections of the book when I’m designing and coding.. so I don’t have one of those, “I read about that somewhere” moments. Below I will quickly explain what I found to be the “bookmark worthy” parts of the book.
Highlighting the Current Page in Navigation
If you are on the “About” page of a website, the “About” text in the main navigation should be a different color than the rest of the links, right? This is good for the user experience, so they always quickly know what page they are currently on. On a small site this is simple; just throw a class on the list item for “About”. It gets more complicated on a larger scale site, with a lot of navigation items.
I design my sites using Dreamweaver. I find it to be a great tool, (as long as you know how to write code by hand of course). I like the template features. Why I mention this is because if you also use Dreamweaver templates, you will find the above current link technique very helpful in your website designs. You may notice one problem however, the above technique requires you to put a separate “ID” on your “BODY” tag of your pages. If you have a Dreamweaver template your body tag is not editable though.. so what do you do? I will be writing an article on this exact topic soon, so stay tuned. To wrap up, I find this the MOST IMPORTANT TOPIC in the entire book.. I use it on every site I code now.
Absolute & Fixed Positioning
This is a topic that can confusing to some CSS coders. To be honest, I put this bookmark in as a reminder to myself to come back at some point to try some Fixed Positioning techniques. I use Absolute all the time, but never really have a need for Fixed. I think some interesting designs could be achieved by having an item in exactly the same place on the screen though…TO BE CONTINUED!
I find that spending 15-30 minutes styling a form with CSS can be the difference of a great looking page, and an eyesore. When I see generic inputs and buttons on forms on websites it drives me nuts. One thing I hate about unstyled forms is how different browsers show the inputs and buttons differently. As a designer, I want to be in control of how the form looks, not the browser! FORMS DON’T NEED TO BE UGLY!
Conditional Statements and Hacks
Honestly this bookmark is only on the book because I had some room left over. I use conditional statements and hacks, but have them memorized by this point in my career. I figured I’d throw the bookmark on in the chance that I come across the need for some hack of statement that I’m not so knowledgeable of, this will be a quick reference.
So is this book right for you? How should I know! I can say that if I had to throw all my books away and keep only one book it would be a tossup between this book and “Web Standards Solutions” by Dan Cederholm *stay tuned for my review of that book*. I find CSS Mastery a great book filled with techniques that I either use or could use in my day to day workflow. I have some books that have advanced techniques that would be great if I had clients willing to pay 6 times what they are paying so I’d have the time to use these techniques. So having said that.. two thumbs up for this book from me!