Book Review - HTML & XHTML - Musciano & Kennedy

Although a good introduction to HTML this book suffers from its age but turns up some unexplored parts of HTML even for an experienced reader.

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Two out of Five
Two out of Five

Finding this book in my local library I decided to have a read. I suspected that it might be seriously dated and I was not wrong in that assumption. I had the 5th Edition of this book (the latest), published in 2002.

So what does this book provide?

It provides a plain and simple introduction to HTML, XHTML and even CSS. Closely following the W3C specification it goes through HTML in detail and goes over browser problems CSS and even some Javascript. The book will still hold some value for a beginner as it takes you through the elements of HTML one by one. But for me this is where books like this fail. They are merely an additional layer of explanation to the W3C specification documents and don’t really show any practical use of the language you are learning. For a beginner practical usage of HTML for each example would be much better.

Some unexpected findings

Reading the book there is not a great deal that was new to me. Much of the book is outdated with examples using inline styles rather than external stylesheets for example. The book’s subtitle is “The Definitive Guide” and it does cover pretty much all of the specification. So much so that you find yourself coming across tags you have never seen before.

Here are a couple I didn’t know and will be using in the future:


Keyboard - this is text for a user to type on their keyboard


Variable - this displays a string that is used as a variable by programming languages

To write semantic markup you need to use the right tag for the job. So there is no harm in refreshing your knowledge by reading a book like this. Reading the book you can see how HTML was devised in the first place and that can only help to write better markup.

Would I recommend this book?

To a newcomer I would not recommend this book. There are better, more modern and practical books out there that cover (X)HTML. For an intermediate or advanced (X)HTML author I would recommend this book if you can get a free copy. It is extensive in its coverage and just to see where the web has come from is interesting in itself. Paying for an out of date book would seem a bit much for me but if you are loaded then go for it.


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