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Painting the Web

Upon completing the reading of this book, I tried to firstly decide who the intended reader was, and found this question hard to answer. So, I read the blurb on the reverse of the book:

"Painting the Web is the first comprehensive book on web graphics to come along in years, and author Shelley Powers demonstrates how readers of any level can take advantage of the graphics and animations capabilities built into today's powerful browsers. She covers GIFs and JPEGs, raster images, vector graphics, SVG, CSS, Ajax effects, canvas objects, geographical applications, and more -- everything that designers (and non-designers) use to literally paint the Web."

Thus the aim of the book seems to be "being comprehensive", rather than a "beginner's guide" or "advanced users only", and I think that it achieves it pretty well. The book seems to fall into two sections — the first 214 pages, covering photographs, raster graphics, and the generation of buttons and other "Pop graphics", — and the second 400, covering vector graphics, CSS, and dynamic graphics in a very code-intensive way.

The first section is very user-friendly, talking the user through some very useful methods to get the best out of imagery, with "how-to" instructions for different software packages. The second section, is, however, very daunting to the less advanced user, containing large chunks (sometimes two and three pages long) of svg code, in print, to describe an example. I think these examples, and this section in general, would be much more user-friendly were these longer code examples moved to an included CD, so that the user were able to "play" with the code, which in my opinion is the easiest way to learn new skills. Were the book to focus more on the selection of methods, rather than the intricacies of the methods themselves, I feel that this book would capture an audience better - at present it is less of a book to read and more of a "shelf resource" or even "university textbook" style.

In summary, I feel that the book achieves the goals it has set out to achieve, but does them in a way such that only the most persistent reader will actually make it all the way through to the end — the content is good, the actualization is what can be improved upon.

Score: 7 out of 10

Richard Hornby

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