Book Review: Cascading Style Sheets - Eric Meyer

Eric Meyer's book is a thorough technical guide to the ins and outs of CSS. The book is a classic but won't offer much creative inspiration. What you will find is a thorough technical explanation of the ins and outs of CSS.

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Four out of Five
Four out of Five

Eric Meyer is seen by many as the James Brown of CSS. A Godfather who was doing it before it was trendy; the hardest working man in CSS. He has written extensively on CSS and continues to work for the adoption of web standards. As such I was keen to get hold of one of his early books. Cascading Style Sheets - The Definitive Guide was first published in 2000 when most web developers were still stuck in tables and font tags. It is a book that goes through the technical side of CSS in some detail.

In fact the book is more of an explanation of the CSS Specification and for that reason alone it is worth reading. Meyer certainly knows his stuff and despite thinking I have a reasonable grasp of CSS, I learnt a great deal from reading this book. Meyer goes through Selectors to Non-Screen Media in a comprehensive tour of CSS and how it works.

A harsh and perhaps unfair criticism of such a visionary book is that it lacks practical examples. This book was written before CSS was widely adopted so it is no surprise that the book is more of a manual than a toolkit. Comparing the book to CSS Mastery by Andy Budd for example the reader will find much less technical detail in Budd’s book but more practical application of CSS and what it can do.

This should not detract from encouraging you to read the book however, whether you are a beginner of an expert. It is also a book that I would reach for if I had a query about a technical aspect of CSS. The book is certainly more accessible and offers better explanations than the CSS 2.1 spec.

To summarise Cascading Style Sheets - The Definitive Guide is a visionary book that is a worthy read. The text is at times dense and for beginners may be daunting. But everyone will find something new here, although it likely to be a technical detail of CSS rather than a helpful technique.


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