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Martin Kenny's blog

Zeldman presents: Designing With Web Standards

Book cover
Recently, a bright orange book, with a beanied man on the front cover, arrived on my front verandah. I'm referring, of course, to Jeffrey Zeldman's new book, Designing With Web Standards, and the beanied man is none other than Zeldman himself. Forthwith, my mini-review of his book:

I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this book – all I knew was that it had sold out it's first printing, before I could get my hands on a copy. Having now read it from orange cover to orange cover, I feel slightly more qualified to comment.

The quick summary is that it's a web standards evangelism book. It's the kind of book you can wave at a customer, boss or friend who doesn't quite 'get it' yet, and feel pretty sure that this will help move them along the path to clean markup enlightenment.

The slightly longer summary is that Zeldman spends the first third of the book explaining where we've come from, what was wrong with it, where we are now, and where we're headed. The rest of the book works through the practical aspects of building standards-based web sites – things like trading in HTML 4.0 for XHTML 1.0, using CSS where applicable (most places), and using JavaScript appropriately. Quite a lot of time is spent arguing against pandering to older browsers using tricks like browser sniffing.

The second two-thirds of the book, while not earth-shattering, are full of practical advice on building sites that are standards-based, but work with today's browsers – browsers who's support of standards is often imperfect. It pulls together in one convenient package a lot of information that's available in disparate places on the web. Among other topics, it includes details on DOCTYPE switching, consistent font sizing, working around browser bugs and accessibility.

The book is a pretty good mix of history, evangelism and practical advice. It definitely fits comfortably next to Eric Meyer on CSS, which I also highly recommend.