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5.0 out of 5 stars The ideal choice for visual designers
I'm a graphic designer and have gathered some solid background in web design through the years.
The moment I saw Christopher's tutorial "Web Page Reconstruction with CSS" [the website] on Digital Web Magazine mentioning the upcoming book, I immediately knew that this was the book for me.
It turned out to be an eye-opening experience starting with the structured...
Published on Feb. 16 2004 by Martin

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars Frustrating
While there are some useful concepts in here, they are usually completely glossed over or refer you elsewhere with a link to someone elses web site.
The first 2 chapters are especially frustrating. There are so many errors i found myself actually shouting out loud. He makes statements without backing them up (I thought this was going to be an oppinionated book by a...
Published on Oct. 31 2004


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2.0 out of 5 stars Frustrating, Oct. 31 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Designing CSS Web Pages (Paperback)
While there are some useful concepts in here, they are usually completely glossed over or refer you elsewhere with a link to someone elses web site.
The first 2 chapters are especially frustrating. There are so many errors i found myself actually shouting out loud. He makes statements without backing them up (I thought this was going to be an oppinionated book by a master in his field). The sidebars and captions are so unhelpful and seem to refer to diagrams and screenshots that are not even there (figures 2.4 and 2.5 are identical with different descriptions and captions).
I thought - ok this is a terribly inconsistent error-laden book and the technical reviewers are obviously not really paying any attention here... but it will be ok because the errata will correct it all online ... WRONG!!! All the errata serves to do is correct minor typos (spaces that should be removed in urls etc) and doesn't address any of the technical errors in the book. Mine is the reprinted 2003 version so they had a second chance but clearly didn't use it.
The css code used is incredibly inconsistent, and he makes changes to it from one step to the next, often without a mention as to why.
listing 4.17 (partial)
.sidecol {
padding: 0 22px 0 22px3%;
}
where does the 3% come from? clearly a typo - but in the errata it reinforces this typo. The code that you can download is correct but what confidence can you have when the errata is wrong.
I am reading this book to learn something - i'm not going to use the code for every example because some of it is too simplistic and I dont need to, but when the book is incorrect it just slows you down so much.
Just simply frustrating. This might seem like a simplistic example, and it is. You may be saying - see past it, it's only a typo. But they are everywhere and it's just maddening. He clearly knows his stuff, I just don't necessarily think he writes about it in a good way.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Poorly written and confusing, July 1 2004
By 
David Powers (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Designing CSS Web Pages (Paperback)
I bought this book because of Christopher Schmitt's high reputation, and because I'd heard so many positive reports about it. Christopher Schmitt does have a good sense of design, and he uses CSS in an imaginative way, but he's no writer or teacher. The book would be more aptly renamed "Random Thoughts about Web Design". The first two chapters burble on about design principles - important issues, but others have written about the subject far more cogently. Then a chapter about style rules that is likely to confuse the hell out of anyone not already well-versed in CSS. After a few designs, you're then plunged into the mysteries of handling PNG and SVG with CSS. (Yes, those graphics formats that are not supported by the vast majority of browsers in current use.) And where are the basic rules about creating borders, styling text, and other useful things? In an appendix, that's where. Unless Christopher Schmitt can get a better editor to knock some sense of coherence into his thoughts, he should stick to design, and stay well clear of writing. Sorry, this is one of the worst computer books I've read in a long time.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Makes CSS "Click", March 7 2004
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This review is from: Designing CSS Web Pages (Paperback)
I had picked up several other CSS books that were basically CSS Language References. I got the impression that CSS was basically a more complicated way to accomplish what "font" and similar tags already did. Who needs that? Turns out, I was doing CSS all wrong and just making my life harder.
This book, however, was the first book I read that really showed how CSS is supposed to be done to make your web design life easier. In the middle of reading this book, it suddenly "clicked" in my head... Mr. Schmitt shows how you can take a plain vanilla page with no formatting whatsoever and turn it into a beautiful layout and design using CSS -- and then reformat it with a few keystrokes. The most valuable parts of the book are the ones in which he demonstrates how to mark up various portions of a page using structural div tags, and then format those portions with CSS style sheets. And there are pages and pages of samples at the end of the book that basically show you how duplicate things you see in printed brochures and ads.
I've read some of the negative comments from other reviewers, and in my opinion, what they are complaining about is CSS itself -- this stuff is really HARD to learn to do well! But this book is a very good place to begin. It's not the only book you'll need on the subject, but it'll train you to think of CSS in the right way and get you ready to use those CSS language reference books effectively.
Get this book first.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The ideal choice for visual designers, Feb. 16 2004
This review is from: Designing CSS Web Pages (Paperback)
I'm a graphic designer and have gathered some solid background in web design through the years.
The moment I saw Christopher's tutorial "Web Page Reconstruction with CSS" [the website] on Digital Web Magazine mentioning the upcoming book, I immediately knew that this was the book for me.
It turned out to be an eye-opening experience starting with the structured content and moving towards the "styled" end result purely with the implementation of css. I have looked at several other books on css and while many of them provided valuable in-depth knowledge none of them created a spark for me like "Designing CSS Web Pages" did. Like no other author Christopher shows in simple examples how CSS can be used to actually work on the look of pages, accompanied by the underlying code. That makes it the perfect companion for the visual designers out there.
Even the so-called appendix has a lot to offer: the 50 formatting exercises show you how to create variations of a headline followed by a paragraph: headlines separated by various line styles, headlines left-, right- and centre-aligned, headlines residing in their own, coloured box tucked into the text block, headlines spiced up by background images... you name it!
I admit, as others have mentioned, that some chapters require an understanding of other, related techniques like JavaScript, so the book would not seem an ideal choice for beginners. However the examples are clearly presented to be as comprehensive as possible and certainly sparked my interest to deepen my knowledge where it was lacking.
For those that have a basic background the book opens up a bunch of new possibilities - it really is that good.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Place to Start, Dec 12 2003
By 
DH "D Hood" (SOUTHFIELD, MI United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Designing CSS Web Pages (Paperback)
As a person with 8 years of web design experience, I know all too well that things are constantly changing. The vast majority of those years were spent creating table-based layouts. I needed something to jump start me and help me make the switch from table-based to CSS layouts. This book served as the perfect tool.
In reading other reviews, where people complained about errors, I didn't run into this problem. I guess that's because of the way I use books. I simply took the code that Mr. Schmitt has in the book, downloaded the great examples on the book's site, and played with the code enough to gain a solid understanding of the principles that he presented.
Coupling the book's topics with other info readily available on the web and via CSS mailing lists, creating sites with CSS has been (for the most part) a pain-free experience.
My advice? I definitely recommend this book. Just take it with a grain of salt (like any other book or product) and do all you can to get the most out of it. The author definitely knows his stuff, so overall, you can't go wrong.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Design Reference (not CSS language reference), March 31 2003
This review is from: Designing CSS Web Pages (Paperback)
First, let me point out that this book is NOT a language/syntax reference for CSS. There are many other (mostly larger) books and web resources that cover the technical details of CSS.
With that said, I found this book to be an excellent design resource. As W3C standards become increasingly accepted, one of the key tasks for web designers is to master separation of content from presentation. XHTML, XML, XSL and CSS are all key components in the effort to streamline web code by separating the "what" from the "how-its-viewed." Designing CSS Web Pages is an excellent primer on how to retool your designs using a more sophisticated approach.
The CSS examples presented in the book are simple, but effective. As a programmer, I spend most of my time worrying about data, not how it looks. The examples helped me quickly transform a project from a boring HTML table-layout into a professional-level presentation. Schmitt's examples demonstrate how to achieve many common effects such as multi-column layouts, layering and a myriad of formatting examples for text. Further, the examples are practical and approachable for most people. Many programming tutorials start with simple examples then proceed to advanced cases without covering the middle. While the exercises in Schmitt's book aren't in laid out as a tutorial, they do demonstrate aspects of CSS that most people will actually use when creating CSS-styled web projects. I found them neither too simple, nor too extravagant (CSS can create some interesting effects). This book focuses on real, practical results.
Finally, the extra sections on non-web CSS usage were interesting, and in the case of the printed examples, quite useful, as found I was able to eliminate some code by simply having CSS create my printer-formatted pages (easier for the user, too). In addition, the interviews with various people involved in the web standards and design community helps highlight the effort to make development on the Internet as consistent and efficient as possible,
Overall, I found this book to be a great companion as I reworked my projects to use CSS. Again, you will want to refer to a complete language reference when writing your CSS code, but I would recommend Designing CSS Web Pages as a style reference for anyone creating new web pages in the proper, content-separated manner.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This is a good book, but not for everyone., March 23 2003
By 
Shashank Tripathi (Gadabout) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Designing CSS Web Pages (Paperback)
In terms of quality, I'd rate this book as high as anything from Glasshaus, most prominently "Cascading Style Sheets: Separating Content from Presentation".
This book covers a lot of the same ground as the Glasshaus title but I found it particularly useful due to its slightly more graphic design bent. The code samples in the book are not merely basic utility layouts (2 columns, 3 columns, vertical centering etc), but more aesthetically 'designed' examples of using CSS -- a feature clearly missing in a lot of books aimed at the 'web developer' community. I'd venture to say I am not one of those to get so enamoured with the technology itself that they fail to see it as a handy means to an end. I really value Schmitt's efforts in this sense.
Again we get the 'separating content from design' jazz, fair enough, but then the author takes a slightly different direction choosing to show how CSS can be linked to other technologies such as JavaScript and the not-so-common PNG and SVG graphics file formats. PNG (Portable Network Graphics) is partly supported by most modern browsers and offers many advantages over the GIF format. SVG (Scaleable Vector Graphics) is similar to Flash, but can be scripted directly from JavaScript on the page. This may or may not be useful to some of you.
There are many CSS techniques in the W3C specifications that are poorly, inconsistently, or not supported at all, in even the latest browsers. As a practising designer, and not just an academic, Christopher is only too happy to point out the limitations of browsers and explains some of the many pitfalls that await the unwary if you try to push the envelope too far.
The projects, again downloadable from the publisher's Web site, focus on publishing - in business, personal and 'underground' styles. The typography is a lot fancier than any other book I've seen and the attention to detail, even for 'web' typography, is highly commendable.
An earlier review on this website said this book is not well technically edited. I am not sure why that was said, but I work with Opera 6 (and 7 beta), Mozilla 0.9 and above, netscape 6 and above and IE 4 and above. All samples I have tried have impressed me.
In sum, if you want to separate your content from design and give your 'styles' some, er, style, AND if you are fairly familiar with the basic CSS lingo (i.e., you dont need to know box models or glish but should understand what a link rel is), then this is probably a very useful book for you. If you are looking for a very basic introduction to CSS, I'd strongly recommend the Glasshaus book. If you are serious about your work, get both.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable and Easy to Understand, March 13 2003
By 
Art lover "painter_lady" (Tallahassee, FL United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Designing CSS Web Pages (Paperback)
Unlike some of the recent reviewers of this book, I found Christopher Schmitt's book very enjoyable and easy to read. I like the way he takes a completely unstyled page and shows you how to take each section and give it some "pizazz." His method's are logical and his results are nice to look at, without being overdone.
People who are heavily into "slicing and dicing" graphics and creating complex table structures may have a hard time with this book, because it puts the *content* first, not the visual effects. But, the future of the living web needs us to get out of that mode and to start thinking about communication of ideas and written content. Schmitt's book does a good job of presenting the information and the appendices in the back of the book are a great resource, too.
My only "quibble" with the book is the large section on SVG which really isn't too helpful, at least not yet. However, before reading this book, I only had a dim idea of what SVG even meant, so I did learn something and will be looking for the advancement of this graphics format in the future.
You will also need to read other books on this topic. My recommendations are for Eric Meyer's books (all of them, but especially "Eric Meyer on CSS") and if you use Dreamweaver MX, Project Seven has a wonderful eBook,"Foundations," that is terrific for putting CSS to work while teaching you best practices of working with Dreamweaver.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Poorly written and edited book, Feb. 22 2003
By 
Mike Yearling (Granville, OH USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Designing CSS Web Pages (Paperback)
I was drawn to this book because of a line that appeared inside the front cover: 'Designing CSS Web Pages came about because the material available for web builders to use CSS always seemed to be knee-deep in geek speak that produced only superficial design enhancements." I have neither the time nor interest to purchase those 1200 page doorstops, so I bought this book in the hopes that it would impart the essence of CSS quickly and clearly, focusing on the practical over the theoretical.
Well, I ended up returning the book to the bookstore because it was so poorly written and edited. The author's knowledge is clearly advanced, but I needed to read each page six or seven times to grasp even the simplest concepts. Clearly he's lived in the trenches and has a lot of nice advice to help us all avoid common problems, but I rarely understood what he was saying! Then he'd move on so quickly.
For example, he'd have this to say about Cascading guidelines:
"Cascade Guideline #1: in the media type (screen, printer, and so on), look for all the declarations for an element and property. The style is rendered if the selector and element match."
Huh? And that's all he would say about that. No example and no clarification of brand new terms (what's a "selector"). And the number of typos throughout the book are too numerous to mention.
(Epilogue: I sent this review to New Riders and they bent over backwards to restore my confidence in them. They immediately sent me a free copy of Eric Meyer's new book on CSS which was wonderful. I was very impressed with the way they handled it.)
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1.0 out of 5 stars Difficult to Read, Feb. 18 2003
By 
Chad Harrington "Chad Harrington" (San Jose, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Designing CSS Web Pages (Paperback)
This book is the worst-edited technical book I have read in a very long time. It was painful to read. Here are a few of the issues:
- Using new terms / jargon before explaining them (if they get explained at all)
- Awkward sentences & paragraphs; difficult to follow
- Misspellings (not many, but enough to notice)
- Poor organization; the haphazard flow confused me multiple times.
I read a large quantity of technical literature each month. I have come to expect a certain level of professionalism from major publishers. New Riders should be ashamed of itself for letting such shoddy editing out their door. I don't particularly blame the author; he seems to be an expert on the subject, not an accomplished writer. It is the publisher's responsibility to handle the issues that make this book nearly unreadable.
This book did acquaint me with CSS, and the author does a good job of advocacy. I am converted to the CSS doctrine. Unfortunately, now I have to go buy another book (from a more established publisher) in order to use CSS.
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Designing CSS Web Pages
Designing CSS Web Pages by Christopher Schmitt (Paperback - Sept. 20 2002)
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