Tuesday, July 26, 2016

HTML5 and CSS3 for Dummies (David Karlins)

HTML5 and CSS3 for Dummies
(The Dummies series)
David Karlins
John Wiley and Sons, Inc.
Nonfiction, Computers
**** (Good)

DESCRIPTION: The face of the internet has changed immensely since its debut, and continues to evolve rapidly. For web designers, this means a near-constant need to update one's skills or be left behind with obsolete websites that fail to function properly in new browsers or new media such as tablets or smartphones. In this book. expert David Karlins explains the newest innovations in HTML5 and CSS3, which are more flexible and powerful than ever, and how to design sites that are both attractive and functional in a wide range of environments.

REVIEW: I've had good luck with the Dummies series, finding them - in general - better written and more accessible than other name-brand instruction books. I even used HTML 4 for Dummies when I was learning how to update my book review website some years back. Well, it's high time I overhauled and updated things again, so I once again turned to the Dummies series for help. Did I get it? Yes and no.
Karlins explains many new aspects of HTML5 and CSS3, and how they've changed the underlying structure of web pages to emphasize "semantics" (labeling each part and ranking content in a hierarchy of importance) over simple aesthetics, and why these changes are important. He also explains how many special tricks that used to require Javascript and such can now be done strictly with HTML5 and CSS3, including gradients and simple animations. But it all assumes a basic general idea of HTML (and even CSS), one that true, green newcomers to the field of web design may not have. It also tends to foist off further explanations with the oft-repeated phrase that this or that concept is "beyond the scope of this book." Karlins likes to show off fancy tricks, at the expense of more basic layout designs and discussions - which, considering the differences in how various devices view websites, could've used more discussion in a book ostensibly aimed at us "dummy" beginners. I, for one, would've found that more useful than several pages on how to make a navigation button warp and animate with CSS3. Fancy tricks are optional; cross-platform web site functionality is essential. The final "Part of Tens", a feature of most Dummies books, seemed a little scattershot, too, though it did contain some interesting resource links.
Did it help me, in the end? Yes, it did, but I know I'm going to need to look elsewhere for further instruction before I know enough to actually begin revamping my web presence - a feeling I don't recall having after reading previous Dummies books. I suppose the whole subject of web design has evolved to the point that no one book can really cover the topic, even the basics, though part of me thinks that this one could've been a little more comprehensive if it sacrificed some of the more advanced stuff.

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