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Web Design in a Nutshell 2nd Edition Jennifer Niederst
Published by O'Reilly
640 pages
£ 20.95
Published: 1st October 2001
reviewed by Lindsay Marshall
   in the May 2002 issue (pdf), (html)

I was going to dig out my review of the first edition of this book and just edit that, but it is archived on a CD somewhere so I'll have to do it all over again. The advantage of doing it all over again is that the material doesn't have to grow, otherwise, as with this book, there is a tendency for it to creep up in size. This volume weighs in at 613 pages which is more like a bag of nuts than a nutshell. This is not to say that the content is in anyway inferior - as with the first edition the material is first class - just that there is just too much of it. Do we need a 4 page list of deprecated and proprietary HTML tags? Don't tell people about them and they won't use them! (Should they come across them they can look in a proper HTML reference book to find out what they do.)

The trouble with a book like this is that so much of what it covers is done elsewhere in more detail, so, for me anyway, I would prefer to see a much shorter book that points me to the best sources where I can find the nasty detail. However, don't ask me to suggest what to leave out - every time I look at something that looks unnecessary I find a tip that I didn't know and that I can probably use. (To be scrupulously fair, I should point out that the book is full of pointers and suggestions for other sources of information.)

The biggest annoyance in the book is the inconsistent use of case - examples use upper case tags and attributes, but specifications use lower case. Now that we are moving, albeit slowly, towards an xhtml future we really ought to be using lower case all the time, and I hope that this gets cleaned up in the third edition. Also I am not sure what the author means by the ``street price'' of various programs she refers to. She seems to mean the catalogue price - the street price of most expensive software is approaching zero!

Anyway, I am being picky: this is, inevitably, an excellent web design resource and everyone will learn something from it. You'll probably need to buy all the other O'Reilly full scale reference books as well of course.....

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