Last week one of my team members requested a copy of Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML by Elisabeth Freeman and Eric Freeman, as we are doing some work on a CSS implementation of our web site based on the results of some initial research that I had done back in June of this year. I started vacation on Friday and by Saturday I had a note from the post office saying that the book was sitting there waiting to be picked up (apparently our postal delivery person was too lazy to get out of the truck and leave it on the doorstep).
I started paging through the book a little and was a little suprised and put off by the format at first. It seemed to me to be almost formatted as a kids book, with large pictures, large type, and conventions like interviews being conducted with tags, or conversations between specifications. As we were on our way Christmas shopping I was actually reading it to the family and kind of goofing on it. I couldn’t believe that my team members actually requested a book like this that tried to explain things in such simple terms. It seriously felt like a ‘Dick and Jane’ book.
Well, thankfully I didn’t write it off and actually kept reading it. What I soon came to realize is that there is a reason that ‘Dick and Jane’ have been around since the earth cooled. These are some great books, removing all of the technical jargon out of your way and explaining the concepts in an extremely understandable way. The book makes the concepts seem much more realizable and less intimidating to actually try yourself. Surprisingly, I learned quite a bit that I didn’t know by hitting the O’Reilly books that I had read earlier and found myself thinking about the concepts much more frequently (and freely) than I did as I was wading through the highly technical format of these other books.
So while I started out goofing on the book, I found a ton of value in it, so much so that I’m going to grab a few more of them. I think I’ll start off with Head First Design Patterns and then work my way from there.
If you are looking to dip your toes into CSS and XHTML and want to understand the purposes and reasons for the different specifications, I highly recommend picking up this book. I was absolutely pleasantly surprised and found a ton of value in the format and presentation of the information. It was really cool to finally run across a series of books that teach the concepts so effectively while giving you just enough technical information to be able to work.
Pick this one up. You won’t be disappointed.