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HTML & XHTML: The Definitive Guide [Paperback]

Chuck Musciano , Bill Kennedy
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 27 2006 0596527322 978-0596527327 Sixth Edition

"...lucid, in-depth descriptions of the behavior of every HTML tag on every major browser and platform, plus enough dry humor to make the book a pleasure to read."
--Edward Mendelson, PC Magazine

"When they say 'definitive' they're not kidding."
--Linda Roeder,

Put everthing you need to know about HTML & XHTML at your fingertips. For nearly a decade, hundreds of thousands of web developers have turned to HTML & XHTML: The Definitive Guide to master standards-based web development. Truly a definitive guide, the book combines a unique balance of tutorial material with a comprehensive reference that even the most experienced web professionals keep close at hand. From basic syntax and semantics to guidelines aimed at helping you develop your own distinctive style, this classic is all you need to become fluent in the language of web design.

The new sixth edition guides you through every element of HTML and XHTML in detail, explaining how each element works and how it interacts with other elements. You'll also find detailed discussions of CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), which is intricately related to web page development. The most all-inclusive, up-to-date book on these languages available, this edition covers HTML 4.01, XHTML 1.0, and CSS2, with a preview of the upcoming XHTML2 and CSS3. Other topics include the newer initiatives in XHTML (XForms, XFrames, and modularization) and the essentials of XML for advanced readers. You'll learn how to:

  • Use style sheets to control your document's appearance
  • Work with programmatically generated HTML
  • Create tables, both simple and complex
  • Use frames to coordinate sets of documents
  • Design and build interactive forms and dynamic documents
  • Insert images, sound files, video, Java applets, and JavaScript programs
  • Create documents that look good on a variety of browsers

The authors apply a natural learning approach that uses straightforward language and plenty of examples. Throughout the book, they offer suggestions for style and composition to help you decide how to best use HTML and XHTML to accomplish a variety of tasks. You'll learn what works and what doesn't, and what makes sense to those who view your web pages and what might be confusing. Written for anyone who wants to learn the language of the Web--from casual users to the full-time design professionals--this is the single most important book on HTML and XHTML you can own.

Bill Kennedy is chief technical officer of MobileRobots, Inc. When not hacking new HTML pages or writing about them, "Dr. Bill" (Ph.D. in biophysics from Loyola University of Chicago) is out promoting the company's line of mobile, autonomous robots that can be used for artificial intelligence, fuzzy logic research, and education.

Chuck Musciano began his career as a compiler writer and crafter of tools at Harris Corporations' Advanced Technology Group and is now a manager of Unix Systems in Harris' Corporate Data Center.

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From Amazon

In the most recent edition of this acclaimed HTML guide, Musciano and Kennedy look closely at every aspect of HTML and show how to use it wisely to create top-quality Web pages. The book is up-to-date, covering HTML 4, Netscape Navigator 4, Microsoft Internet Explorer 4, and the various extensions of each.

HTML: The Definitive Guide is aimed at beginners as well as those who have more practice in Web-page creation. The authors assume at least a basic knowledge of computers, including how to use a word processor or text editor and how to deal with files. They teach you that learning HTML is like learning any other language and that reading a book of rules can only take you so far. Readers begin writing what may be their first Web page just two pages into the book's second chapter. From there on, they provide a wide range of HTML coding to allow readers to learn from good examples. The book includes a handy "cheat sheet" of HTML codes for quick reference. --Elizabeth Lewis --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


A library that circulates this book may soon find itself
charging a lost item fee, because it can become an
indispensable reference in a short period of time. -- Molly Ives Brower, Internet References Services Quarterly, Vol 6, No 1, 2001

In-depth descriptions of the behavior of every HTML tag on every major browser and platform, plus enough dry humour to make the book a pleasure to read. -- Edward Mendelson, PC Magazine, April 23, 2002

It is a readable, fast moving and a compact book. Those of us with the need for a good reference book certainly appreciate this one. -- Miguel A Sepulveda,, Jan 2001

Those of us with the need for a good reference book certainly appreciate this one. -- Miguel Sepulveda,, April 2002

When they say "definitive" they're not kidding. Definitive is defined as "clearly defined or formulated" and that's just what this is. -- Linda Roeder, Personal Web Pages, --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a good reference Aug. 27 2002
I have bought this book and as someone who knows already HTML I do not find it useful at all.
Eventhough it tells you if attributes are supported by certain browsers, it does not tell you which of them.
On top of that the "tips" that it gives are merely basic rules of HTML.
If you want a good reference book try: Dynamic HTML: The Definitive Reference or Web Design in a Nutshell. Both of them succed in describing attributes and tags: they tell you which are supported and explain them clearly.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I expected this to be a solid reference of HTML 4.01. What I got was an incomplete guide, ambiguous attribute descriptions, an organization that requires one to constantly look in the index to find anything, and an index that gives multiple page references with no indication on which page an element is defined. This book provides neither guidelines on how to use HTML nor a reliable reference to its linguistic characteristics. Pass it by.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not for the beginner.... June 18 2003
I thought this book was very complete. I will disagree with quite a few reviews. I don't think this is for the beginner. Sometimes if we are experienced then we take something's for granted thinking everybody already knows them. This book that would be values for the attributes.
Each chapter is filled with valuable technical content. The chapter information provides very simple, understandable samples but I think you need to know HTML to understand them. If you do this is a GREAT reference book and certainly up to O'Reilly standard.
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The reviews for "HTML & XHTML" by Musciano and Kennedy are already overwhelmingly positive (save a few disgruntled readers here and there). I can see why readers heap so much praise upon this book. The author's intent is to show the reader how to write clean HTML, arguing that since web surfers can always change their browsers' appearance settings, content is still more important than style. I am a rookie at making web pages, yet after tinkering with HTML for a few days, I had already found myself thumbing through the book for reference.
I am not a programmer, and I think novices could still appreciate this book. However, I *strongly* recommend that potential readers have some exposure to HTML and understand how it works before purchasing. (Check out Jennifer Niederst's excellent "Learning Web Design" if you need a tutorial on the Internet and HTML.) In any case, the book is mainly geared towards experienced programmers, but I honestly believe that anyone can get the most out of this book if they are willing to experiment with HTML continually through trial and error.
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By A Customer
Too bad there is no zero start rating.
I own about 10 O'Reilly books and this one is by far the worst. The book is so unorganized, full of replicates and useless comments. For example, HTML tags have many common attributes and the authors managed to replicate the meaningless explanation for each single one of them - this alone would consumer 50 worthless pages.
Normally I would understand there are good and bad parts in a book, but it's just so hard to find any good ones in this book.
I have no idea how this book gets high marks from other readers.
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By S. Tang
This book is a reference book about HTML, the markup language as defined by the W3C standards. It does not teach web design. The authors often shoot down "bad habits" of HTML authors in the book, because most HTML authors attempt to use HTML to control presentation (i.e. using tables to make a layout) or to create some whiz-bang effect. HTML was never meant to control presentation, nor was it meant for people to make hacks because of deficiencies in the HTML language. People criticizing this book for a lack of web design are not understanding the point of this book.
Coverage of CSS and XHTML (the ultimate replacement of HTML) is sparse, so a 5th edition should hopefully cover more.
If you want to learn web design as is used by the industry (tables for layout, one pixel transparent gifs, Flash, etc.), you need to go to another book.
The latest browsers (NS 6.x, Opera 6.x, Konqueror, IE 6.x, etc.) are very standards-compliant. By W3C standards, presentation characteristics should be handled mostly by CSS. To learn HTML the markup language, however, this book does its job.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Super Book for Beginners or Anyone April 29 2002
I didn't know anything about HTML when I started reading this book. When I finished it I understood tables, style sheets, formatting, and so much more. The authors explained everything in a way that I could understand and there were a lot of examples to show you how things work. I still use this book all the time to look up tags and attributes.
The only problem that I had with this book was the chapter on Frames. I had a heck of a time figuring them out until I went on line for help. With the information that was in the book and what I found on line I was able to get them working and now use them all the time.
This book is a must if you want to learn HTML from scratch. Or if you want a comprehensive list of all known HTML tags and attributes supported by HTML 4.01 or XHTML 1.0 and how they work!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Could Not Put It Down Jan. 2 2002
I found this book very interesting because I've seen and written a limited amount of html code and I was getting very confused about the latest versions, standards, browser differences, etc. This book should clear up those types of questions. They need to keep coming out with new editions though to keep up with the changes. Besides that you pick up a lot of good information about recipes using the Kumquat fruit in the sample html pages. These include pickled Kumquats, 'Quats And Kraut', and the always popular 'Quatshakes'. Rather than a koala bear on the cover this book should have a Kumquat tree showing the noble fruit glistening in the sun.
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