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The Book of CSS3

The author of The Book of CSS3, Peter Gasston is certainly qualified to write about the subject; he was one of the original contributors to the website css3.info. Upon reading The Book of CSS3 I was pleased to find that Gasston had not simply compiled free articles from websites such as css3.info into a book and slapped a twenty quid price tag on it. Weighing in at 278 pages I was worried that the subtle nuances of CSS3 would not be covered in the detail which they deserve, these fears turned out to be completely unfounded. Gasston does not go through the basics of CSS – the introduction of the book outlines its intended audience, “Web professionals who have been hand coding HTML and CSS for a few years” – if you need an introduction to style sheets, this is not the book for you. If you want to be brought up to speed with CSS3’s new feature set, you should read this book.

Gasston covers many topics, ranging from media queries, selectors, web fonts, transformations and animation through to colour & opacity and the future of CSS3, with many others covered in between. Nothing is ever covered briefly; there is plenty of detail included about both implemented and speculative sections of the new CSS specification. Throughout the book examples of code and the output that it produces is included to clearly illustrate what is happening. The only sections where these examples seem sub-standard are in the chapter on colours and opacity. The book is printed in greyscale and while it would be unfeasible to convert it to full colour for the sake of one chapter, I felt that it would have made a significant improvement and increased the clarity of the examples.

I thought that the chapter on the future of CSS was wholly unnecessary, or at least the code examples were. Why bother providing examples of unimplemented functions when they may not be implemented in the way outlined? This point was hammered home at the end of the chapter when Gasston provides a table, “Future CSS: Browser Support”. The table contains 48 instances of the word ‘no’ and only four features are ‘Expected’ in future versions of browsers. Every other chapter contains a table listing compatibility of that chapter’s demonstrated features with WebKit, Firefox, Opera and IE which is useful to show what should work at present. However, the book treats IE8, Chrome 6.0 and Firefox 3.6 as being current browsers. Browsers are in a constant state of flux, as is the CSS3 specification. Unfortunately, once a book has been published its information is already out of date. Gasston provides a comprehensive list of online resources in an effort to counter this.

In short, The Book of CSS3 is well written, informative and clear. At present, it also makes a good reference book and the charts on browser compatibility are rather useful. It is a good read, but you may be left feeling like you still need to scour the internet afterwards for more up to date information.

Score: 8/10

Jonathan Hammler

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