Book Review - Learning Web Design (3rd Edition) by Jennifer Niederst Robbins
It's been awhile since I've taken a look at what passes for a beginning web development book these days. I decided to examine Learning Web Design: A Beginner's Guide to (X)HTML, StyleSheets, and Web Graphics (3rd edition) by Jennifer Niederst Robbins. All I want to know is... why weren't books like this around when I was trying to learn this stuff?
Part 1 - Getting Started: Where Do I Start?; How the Web Works; The Nature of Web Design
Part 2 - HTML Markup for Structure: Creating a Simple Page (HTML Overview); Marking up Text; Adding Links; Adding Images; Basic Table Markup; Forms; Understanding the Standards
Part 3 - CSS For Presentation: Cascading Style Sheets Orientation; Formatting Text (Plus More Selectors); Colors and Backgrounds (Plus Even More Selectors and External Style Sheets); Thinking Inside the Box (Padding, Borders, and Margins); Floating and Positioning; Page Layout with CSS; CSS Techniques
Part 4 - Creating Web Graphics: Web Graphics Basics; Lean and Mean Web Graphics
Part 5 - From Start to Finish: The Site Development Process; Getting Your Pages on the Web
Appendix A - Answers; Appendix B - CSS 2.1 Selectors; Index
The first clue that things were different is that it's a full color book. So not only can the code examples be color-coded for clarity, but you don't get black-and-white graphics that attempt to illustrate a full-color web page. Next, covering XHTML and CSS together means that the reader gets the correct foundation for how to separate content from structure. I personally still have a bad habit of using HTML <B> tags instead of using CSS like I really should. Had I had Robbins' book when I first learned, I'm inclined to think I'd have fewer bad habits to get rid of. Finally, she hits a sweet spot in covering issues like browser quirks and incompatibilities. It's not so in-depth that the beginner gets lost, yet it's detailed enough that even those who have been doing web work for some time will likely pick up or rediscover a few things they didn't know or had forgotten.
I have a colleague at work who is dipping her toe into the world of web design. She asked me if I knew of any good books to get her started. I'll be shipping my copy to her, as I'm quite confident this will be exactly what she needs...