This is the kind of book I love to discover. The last time I got so excited by a book on CSS was when I read Jeffrey Zeldman's Design with Web Standards back in 2003. Unfortunately, it doesn't happen often enough. Don't get me wrong, there are lots of books on CSS and web design that I love and recommend, but few that excite me.
This book also assumes you have an open mind.
The format itself is a shear pleasure. A square book. A soft square book that stays open without having to drop something heavy on it, or to break its spine. The illustrations and photography are beautiful. The layout is gorgeous. Up to Andy Clarke's work standards, no doubt. I received it the day before the Christmas break, just in time for holiday reading.
This is not a book on CSS per se, nor a book on XHTML per se. It's about design and the philosophy of web design. About how one structures one's design workflow, how one looks at the world, how one communicates.
Divided into 4 sections, Andy walks you through his concepts of Discovery, Process, Inspiration to finally reach Transcendence. The notions covered are the principles of Transcendent CSS, semantic markup and web design process, content-out approach (discover), workflow principals and prototypes (process), layout, grid design and typography (inspiration) and finally advanced CSS technics including CSS3 (Transcendence).
The examples used throughout the different chapters are enlightening and relevant. Useful sidebar notes are made available for more information, references and URLs on a particular topic. The code examples are numerous and the source code is available online (you will find the URL on page 291). You'll find useful tips on how to structure your stylesheet files, to name your classes and ids in a semantic manner, etc. I don't always agree with everything Andy presents here, but we all have our
bad old habits, and it is never to late to learn better. The Cook! tutorial may use too many classes and ids in my opinion, but the purpose here is to demonstrate a process, not to optimise markup.
You should start seeing markup appearing before your eyes, everywhere you look. But if you start hearing voices, I suggest you contact your doctor immediately.
I especially enjoyed the second half (inspiration and transcendence) on Andy's exploration of grid design and inspiration, and the combination of technics presented in the final chapters, especially the CSS3 chapter (page 313). The new selector modules and the Advanced Layout Module sound awesome (the latter is available on the official site). Overall, I felt very at home with the principles presented here, which certainly contributed to me liking this book so much.
I am by no means a graphic designer. My curricula places me closer to the development end of the spectra of web design. But design facinates me. The information architecture, design, accessibility and semantics of websites are what drives me today, and this book is about most of these. It will help graphic designers to better understand the web semantics and structure that underlay any website, and help to broaden their vision of web design.
I consider Andy Clarke as some kind of visionary. He is capable of bridging the gap between aesthetic beauty and rock solid technology and explain it all to you in simple words, through understandable concepts. He has a great sense of humour. This book will not only guide you through modern web design concepts, it will inspire you.
Discover that inspiration is everywhere
PS: shouldn't page 45 come before page 43? Or am I missing something from the design of the book?