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Everything You Know About CSS is Wrong! – A review

book cover

Well, almost everything

Authors Rachel Andrew and Kevin Yank almost lost me at “hello” with their book titled, “Everything You Know About CSS is Wrong!” ISBN 978-0-9804552-2-9. I’ve never liked the “Dummy’s Guide” book for the same reason — I’m not a dummy — and I’m fairly confident (and hope my clients are well aware) that my CSS knowledge, while not encyclopedic, is better than average, and I’ve delivered some fairly good web solutions.

However, the first goal of selling a book is to get attention, and the title surely does that. And the opening line of Chapter 1, “The problem with CSS is that CSS is too hard.” Okay, I’m hooked, reel me in. (By the way, you can download the sample chapter 1 & 2 from the SitePoint web site; start at http://www.sitepoint.com/books/csswrong1/)

The reality is that the book shows one of the newest features, now available in all of the current brand of browsers, with the late release of Internet Explorer 8, of table layout options in the display attribute. After years of preaching that HTML table layout is less desirable than CSS layouts, this can be a hard sell, but Rachel and Kevin make a good case that a tabular layout of tables, rows and cells, but rendered from CSS and not HTML, is the best of both worlds. Chapters 3 & 4 show the equivalent layouts of many of the common design problems we run into (and perhaps fall back to using tables) and how they should work both with the new CSS 2.1-complaint browsers and how to fall back gracefully into a degraded but workable layout for earlier browsers. Chapter 5 gets into some very exciting layout possibilities that will be coming in the next couple of years as the CSS3 specification gels.

A big plus for the book is that it is brief: 111 pages you can get through in one or two sittings. The graphics clearly show the developing examples. The code extracts are clear (and all the sample code can be downloaded from the web sites). And the writing is clear and well-edited.

The book is well worth the $29.95 cover price, but keep an eye out around the SitePoint site (and their Twitter feed) to catch one of their frequent discounts.

Popup panels on mouseover using only CSS

I found this elegant little hack the other day while browsing for something completely different. I see that the code has made the rounds, and appears on sites like xmpp.com and ietf.org, but the credits seem only to lead to other marketing sites harvesting page views and hosting ads. A sample is available at http://www.phlapjaxs.com/demo.html and consists of a span tag defined as absolutely positioned and block-display, which in turn is inside an anchor tag set to position: relative. That means the block will “pop” at the location of the anchor and can display whatever text (or images or other content) is within the span. Spiffy!

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This work by Ted Roche is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States.