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Book Review

The CSS Anthology: 101 Essential Tips, Tricks & Hacks, 1st Edition
by Rachel Andrew

ISBN: 0-9579218-8-8
Publisher: SitePoint
Pages: 376

I never liked books with a cookbook approach; solving problems without truly understanding why and how a certain construct works is shortsighted at best. Instead I believe in actually learning the relevant technique. That way you make an investment in your own knowledge in contrast to thoughtless copy-paste of available solutions. That said, The CSS Anthology turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Sure, it will not really teach you CSS (although Rachel includes an introductory chapter with a CSS overview). But, just like many other techniques there's a difference between mastering the basics and actually applying them. It's for that latter stage that The CSS Anthology proves valuable.

If you already know the basics, this book comes highly recommended. It provides good examples on real-world designs that I found useful both as inspiration for my own applications as well as a demonstration of how powerful CSS actually is. The tips, tricks, and hacks vary greatly in complexity. There's simple, basic stuff like changing fonts all the way to complex multi-column layouts. Rachel also devotes plenty of space to discussions of portability and workarounds, a topic that is immensely useful in a world where a majority of users still run IE6, a non-compliant browser.

Rachel takes a teaching approach that works really well. She starts by presenting the end result. With that end in mind, she then works towards it step by step with clear explanations of all constructs and possible alternatives. Excellent work. The only problem is that the screen shots lack color. However, the second edition addresses this problem and obviously that's the one you want. I probably buy that one too. This book is really that good.

Reviewed January 2008

©2005 Adam Petersen