Kevin Garner's Reviews > HTML and CSS: Design and Build Websites

HTML and CSS by Jon Duckett
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My original review: "A great, minimalist guide to web development with lush attention to print design. It's like a book-sized magazine written for the classroom, but it's mercifully much easier to read than any textbook on the subject."

Update 1: This book is a nice snapshot of HTML in 2011, but enough has changed since then that this book is now well out of date. I think this book gives you some easy access to some of the basics, but that's about it. If I were to pick up this book now, it would not tell me what I need to know in order to write good HTML and CSS.

Update 2 (2016): I think the time for books on HTML and CSS is over. Sites like Codecademy (free), Code School (subscription-based), and numerous other online learning sites (many of those free to use) do a much better job teaching you all the things that an updated version of this book would attempt to teach. Things like learning AngularJS and Bootstrap to create a JSON-driven website that utilizes the Model View View-Model (MVVM) pattern should be a more hands-on experience than reading a book. The most valuable learning I've received about HTML and CSS is simply through doing tutorials on modern web technologies, combined with troubleshooting any problems I encounter with resources like StackOverflow, W3Schools, the Mozilla Developer's Network, etc. When you build something, you learn how to build. That is the software development paradigm.

Update 3 (2018): Ok, ok, the time for books on HTML and CSS is not over. At least for CSS, I think you should check out "CSS in Depth" by Keith J. Grant if you're looking for good advice and distilled knowledge on how to use CSS effectively in web development, especially when scaling up to large web applications. Note that "CSS in Depth" won't cover all the angles that this reviewed book implies, but neither does this book!
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
February 1, 2013 – Finished Reading
March 4, 2014 – Shelved

Comments Showing 1-8 of 8 (8 new)

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prinneh hi kevin, you seem like you know your stuff. Could you expand upon your review a little? For instance, of you were tasked with bringing this book up to date, what information would you add to make it more relevant today? Thanks in advance"


Kevin Garner The funny thing is, I think the time for books on HTML and CSS is over. Sites like Codecademy (free), Code School (subscription-based), and numerous other online learning sites (many of those free to use) do a much better job teaching you all the things that an updated version of this book would attempt to teach. Things like learning AngularJS and Bootstrap to create a JSON-driven website that utilizes the Model View View-Model (MVVM) pattern should be a more hands-on experience than reading a book. The most valuable learning I've received about HTML and CSS is simply through doing tutorials on modern web technologies, combined with troubleshooting any problems I encounter with resources like StackOverflow, W3Schools, the Mozilla Developer's Network, etc. When you build something, you learn how to build. That is the software development paradigm.


message 3: by prinneh (last edited Mar 04, 2016 05:18AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

prinneh Thank you, Kevin! I am really glad you took the time to write this, it really sums up your view nicely while at the same time providing specifics. Very useful. Again, thank you very much.


Kevin Garner Thanks, prinneh, this has been helpful to me, as well. I have gone ahead and updated my review to the effect of our discussion.


Annie Taylor CHEN I am attracted by the book's design as it's much better than ordinary textbook. However, judging from its publishing year I guess it's far behind. Do you think using CodeCademy alone would be enough? Have you tried their PRO or PRO intensive programs? Is it worth paying those money?


message 6: by Kevin (last edited Nov 30, 2017 11:57AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kevin Garner Codecademy is a very good start. There are many resources available, but whenever possible, train with an interactive resource. A book on HTML becomes quickly outdated. Anyway, when you become familiar with how basic HTML and CSS work, try challenging yourself to make simple web pages. Then, add inputs. Add behavior for those inputs. Try making more complex HTML controls like animated menus. Try various open source libraries and frameworks like bootstrap, jQuery, ReactJS, Angular, Vue.js, node.js, Webpack, etc. There are many ways to learn HTML, but always couple your learning with experimentation. If your learning resource doesn't have an interactive component, make your own files and run them. When you get HTML into your fingers through practice, it is mostly a matter of learning how to accomplish the kind of look and feel that you want to make for web pages.

I'm biased, but I recommend VS Code as an excellent tool for building web applications: https://code.visualstudio.com/
VS Code supports all modern coding languages and has amazing support for HTML, CSS, and JavaScript:
https://code.visualstudio.com/docs/la...
https://code.visualstudio.com/docs/la...
https://code.visualstudio.com/docs/la...
And if you're feeling adventurous one day:
https://code.visualstudio.com/docs/no...

Last note, the way to learn what looks good or what is considered good design is beyond the scope of this book.


Annie Taylor CHEN Thank you so much Kevin! I will take your advice and I checked the VS code and cool they have a linux package too. I did find learning from the book can be limited, cos you tend to forget things quite soon when you don't use them often. Probably it'll be better when combined with projects.


Kevin Garner Best of luck to you! Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn in case you want to talk shop about HTML and CSS in the future.


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