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CSS – 101 Essential Tips, Tricks & Hacks

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Getting down to the business of building websites with CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is something that I’ve been playing with for years. Until lately I’ve only toyed with the process because I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of making sure that my clients wouldn’t have a problem viewing the site. The last thing I wanted to do is spend time building out a site, just to realize that my web illiterate client was still using Netscape 3.0 and was unable to view the site. The client would then conclude that I have no idea how to build a website and it would end up doing more harm than good and probably causing me to spend 10 times more time dealing with the clients project.

That said, the time has officially come for everyone to take the CSS leap. CSS will soon be the standard as the old school HTML code and processes are slowly phased out. CSS is strongly supported in most recently released browsers and the true reasons for using CSS have finally been realized. (Reduced code, greater control of your design and code, etc.)

I started out my latest journey back into the world of CSS with Sitepoints great book HTML Utopia: Designing Without Tables Using CSS. I found it to be a good intro to CSS and the process of building sites without the massive and complicated code needed when coding and developing websites with HTML tables. I found it equally good as an ongoing reference due to the fact that 1/3 of the book is just simple documentation of CSS tags and what they’re used for.

Sitepoints latest offering is an equally good book. It’s not one that I would recommend as a beginner book though. The sole purpose of this offering is for the user to refer to this book as a reference. I actually took the time to read a good portion of the book but I wouldn’t suggest this method. Once you have a firm understanding of CSS and have done some actual CSS coding, this book (combined with other good basic references) will act as an ongoing crutch when you need help or inspiration. Simply reading through the table of contents and file away the information for future reference and time saving techniques. Then when you get stuck or have time to implement a new trick based on the nine broad categories of the book you can just pull out the book and follow the step by step instructions. Better yet, the book has a downloadable code archive that you can keep on hand, modify the code to your liking and use when needed.

The book covers such CSS categories as Text styling, positioning images, navigation tricks, dealing with tabular data, building forms and user interfaces, and experimentation and future techniques among many other things.

I would recommend this book highly to web designers and developers interested in picking up a great reference to keep on hand for ongoing reference. I know it will be sitting next to my desk along with my other Sitepoint books for a long time.

While you’re at it check out the Sitepoint website too. It’s a great reference for learning and support for beginner or advanced developers. It’s Highly recommended and I go there daily. Enjoy!

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