Core CSS: Cascading Style Sheets

Keith Schengili-Roberts

Prentice Hall 2004
A book review by Danny Yee © 2004
Core CSS has a little general material — a brief history of CSS adoption and some forty pages on fundamental CSS concepts — but is basically a reference work, going through all the CSS1 and CSS2 properties systematically. For each there is a description and details of possible values, some example page code and a screen-shot, and a browser compatibility list.

If you want to look up the syntax of a particular property Core CSS works quite well. But it's not much use if you're trying to achieve a particular result — two equal-height columns on a page, say — or want to understand the more complex behaviours of properties — negative margins are not covered at all, for example. The big problem with Core CSS, however, is that it's way too verbose, with a lot of redundancy. Code samples and screenshots are nice, but we don't need the HTML for complete pages or screenshots for every single property.

The presentation of browser compatibility information is particularly unhelpfully expansive, with every property followed by a bullet list listing "safe", "unsafe", or "partial" for fifteen browsers. So instead of simply describing the text-shadow property as "not safe in any browser", we get the full list of fifteen. And instead of describing margin-bottom as "unsafe in IE 3.0 and only partially supported in Netscape 4", again there's the full list — repeated, identically, for margin-top, margin-left, and margin-right! This is not just wasteful of space, but actually makes it harder to see the important information.

Another egregious example is the table of contents, where there's a lone "Browser Compatibility" sub-entry for nearly every section. It's almost as if Core CSS has been deliberately padded out so as to be as long as possible. It is not unusable as it is, but it could have been a much more useful book of half if not a third the length; that would also have made it more comfortable to pick up and handle.

April 2004

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%T Core CSS
%S Cascading Style Sheets
%A Schengili-Roberts, Keith
%I Prentice Hall
%D 2004
%O paperback, 2nd edition, index
%G ISBN 0130092789
%P 818pp