Book review of Dan Cederholm’s Web Standards Solutions
Web Standards Solutions: The Markup and Style Handbook is just that: an essential guide and reference that builds upon the theory presented in Jeffrey Zeldman’s Designing with Web Standards with real-world practices. Dan Cederholm is a designer working full-time in the field, and he presents practical and easily understood examples in a light tone. This book is nothing less than essential for today’s working web designer. Oh, and did I mention the 2nd edition is just around the corner, slated for release in May 2009?
Part One: Get Down with Markup
The book is split into two sections: the first reviews markup and creative methods of implementation, the second delves into CSS and solves many of the issues facing the modern CSS designer. I’ve got over ten years of experience in the web design field, and I was simply amazed at some of the practical solutions to problems that I had faced. Covering the essentials, from lists, headings, tables and forms, to expanding their usage through markup minimization and the application of Microformats, Web Standards Solutions contains inventive methods that are not only web standards compliant, but will save you time in your day to day projects.
One of my favorite chapters was the one covering anchors. Countless times I’ve used semantically meaningless empty anchors to have the user jump lower in an HTML page. This solution seems almost rudimentary, but gives meaning to my markup. Its really almost comical how many decisions you make while coding without stopping to consider the implications when working a full-time job. Another favorite that I put into immediate practice over at NESN.com was the chapter on tables, and the relations we can establish between data. Taking the knowledge I took from Dan’s review of table markup, I combined it with the hCalendar chapter from my Microformats book and built the team calendars on NESN.com. Check out the Red Sox schedule as an example.
Part Two: SimpleBits of Style
The second section of the book covers practical usage of CSS. The one chapter I have referred to frequently is the section on building CSS layouts. Cederholm breaks down CSS layout into four distinct methods, communicated in their most simplistic format, to ease the learning curve and also simplify the transition of using them as skeletons for your site designs.
Another technique I’ve pulled from this book is the “faux columns” created by repeating a background image vertically. I’ve used this on just about all my sites I’ve designed since reading the book, and would recommend the investment so you can do the same.
The fact that Web Standards Solutions: The Markup and Style Handbook is an essential piece of the web designer’s arsenal is undeniable. I have a personal connection to the book, as Dan makes reference to and uses in some of the book’s examples the Boston Red Sox, and their path to the title in 2004, when the 1st edition was originally published. Being from the Boston area and working for NESN I definitely found the examples delightful. Also going to Endicott college in Beverly, MA, I spent a good amount of time in Salem, where Dan’s SimpleBits studio is located.
The second edition of Web Standards Solutions is set for release in May, 2009. You can purchase Web Standards Solutions over at Amazon.com.