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Mike Riley

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The Book of CSS3 Review

May 10, 2011

With the advent of CSS3 support in today's modern browsers, web designers and developers have more control over typography and graphic layouts than ever before. Learning these nuances just got easier with Peter Gasston's The Book of CSS3. Read on for my review.

The Book of CSS3: A Developer's Guide to the Future of Web Design is an easy to read, easy to implement handbook of the newest additions to the Cascading Style Sheet specification. The book's 17 chapters and two appendixes offer readers a well-organized approach to learning how to create stunning web page designs. Beginning with a brief historical overview of CSS3, the next few chapters cover media queries (having the ability to view the same web content seen in a desktop browser formatted for mobile browsers without additional programmatic overhead), understanding the DOM, and attribute selectors and pseudo classes/elements. One of the more exciting (and license-centric) features of CSS3, web fonts, combined with a chapter on text effects, show how web browsers are no longer limited to the system fonts on the client. Page layout aspects such as multiple columns, background images, and borders are also demonstrated. Chapters 10 through 14 cover color, gradients, 2D and 3D transformations, and a variety of interesting transitions and animations available in CSS3. Flexible box and template layouts are described in chapters 15 and 16, and the book concludes with the Future of CSS. Given the fact that the author is one of the contributors to the CSS3 news and information website css3.info, he should certainly be in the know about what to expect in upcoming CSS releases.

Many of the book's examples are available for browser-based display (along with reprints of the browser compatibility tables from the book for WebKit, Firefox, Opera, and IE browsers) at the book's companion website at thebookofcss3.com. The site also features links to CSS3 code generation tools, feature detectors, web fonts, and other resources.

Beyond browser compatibility tables, I would have liked to see more examples of how variations in CSS3-directed page rendering appears in browsers that either partially support or don't support the CSS3 tag being described. Does IE9 fail entirely or is it passable with certain conditions. Do Chrome and Safari look identical, or is there an ever-so-slight difference between the two? In other words, how fully can I trust the "supported" categorization for these browsers?

Overall, I found reading The Book of CSS3 easier, with less cruft than other CSS3 tutorial/reference books. There is no hand-holding here, as the book assumes previous exposure to CSS since it only covers CSS tags new to the CSS3 release. If you're a web developer who meets that criteria and wants to learn about the new CSS3 features in a fast, easy way, this book will certainly help you achieve that goal.

Title: The Book of CSS3: A Developer's Guide to the Future of Web Design
Author: Peter Gasston
Publisher: No Starch Press
ISBN: 978-1-59327-286-9
Pages: 304
Price: $34.95 (Print+Ebook)

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