Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Book Review: HTML, XHTML, and CSS Bible, 3rd Edition

HTML, XHTML, and CSS Bible, 3rd Edition, by Bryan Pfaffenberger, Steven M. Schafer, Chuck White and Bill Karow, Wiley Publishing, Inc. ISBN 0-7645-5739-4.

Not being really a GUI person, I tend to thrive more on the backend of things with threads, algorithms and such, I still need to do a fair bit of client side stuff. With this in mind, I purchased this book thinking that an authoritative work like a bible was just what I needed.

However, this is not a bible. Not at all. It's a very broad introduction on a broad range of subjects with very little depth. Why it has XHTML in the title is totally beyond me, there's not even a chapter about it. This book is really about HTML, CSS and the web in general - forget XHTML (although admittedly there is little difference from HTML).

In the preface, it's mentioned that the main author, Bryan Pfaffenberger is the author of more than 75 books. Impressive! Until you actually read this one. I have never seen so many mistakes in one book. Nor have I seen such blatant waste of space and duplication of code. Seriously, you're paying for about 50 pages of Lorem Ipsum here!

So, it's sloppily written, wasteful of dead trees and is mistitled. Is it thus useless? No, actually not really.

If you really don't think you can use this bible as a reference (because of all the mistakes etc), you can probably get some pretty good use out of it if you're relatively new to the web, but can code a little, and you're thinking about starting your own web site for whatever reason. It does cover a wealth of topics which are relevant as an introduction. There are chapters about how to upload your site, how to optimize for search engines etc etc - none of which is implied by the title, but still useful for a different reader.

I would like to rename it to "Getting Started with the Web" or something like that. As such, it's not really that bad. But don't buy this if you're looking for detailed in-depth information about HTML, XHTML and CSS.

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