Just got this week's Web Design Update in my morning's inbox, and once again had to stop everything, make a cup of tea and read it through. Laura Carlson, who puts out the newsletter, does a marvelous job week after week. For my money Web Design Update is the best webdev newsletter out there. So here'
- Whatever you do, don't make the mistake of using this book as bedtime reading material.
The other night I couldn't get to sleep, so I thought, I'll start Zeldman's book on web standards, that ought'a knock me out. Wrong. At 4:30 a.m., I looked up and realized dawn wasn't too far off. I didn't care. I finished the chapter I was reading and barely kept myself from starting another.
Sorry, Bill. It was fun while it lasted, but I've fallen in love with another browser, and I'm never coming back. You can blame Christian Watson. He introduced me to Firefox.
I have to admit, I was skeptical at first. But I've found Watson's Smiley Cat Blog to be an invaluable resource, and he'd never steered me wrong before. So I downloaded Firefox and gave it a whirl, intending only to use it to check pages. The relationship got off to a rocky beginning. I couldn't get Firefox to work with HomeSite, which was terrifically frustrating. But once I figured out what I (yes, me) was doing wrong, I couldn't resist trying out some of the extensions for designer/developers and, well, one thing led to another and... You know, you never intend for these things to happen.
- You suffer night sweats and heart palpitations after dreaming you are being chased by swarms of angry divs.
- You refer to colleagues as Strict, Transitional, and the Future Unemployed.
- When blowing out your birthday candles, you wish first for your site to validate, second for world peace.
- You experience guilt and remorse after using three break tags on one page.
A few months ago when my daughter was four years old, she stood beside my desk chair and asked, "Mommy, where's your wipes it?"
I looked up from the computer screen. "My what, sweetheart?"
"Your wipes it."
It's been almost exactly four months since I decided to "go professional" as a web designer, and I'm suddenly seized with the desire to pause a moment and take stock. In four months I've come a long way. For one thing, I no longer feel like I'm drowning. That's good. I still might only be treading water, but at least I'm not lying at the bottom of the pond.
The title of this book is particularly apt because solutions for designing with web standards is exactly what it's about. Beyond that, the book is difficult to define. It's not a sermon on web standards, although almost every example shows the benefits of doing so. On the other hand, it's not just a manual on CSS, although Cederholm shows how to markup and style everything from lists to forms to layouts.
It isn't often you can call a technical book lovely, but this one is. The Zen of CSS Design is one of those rare books in which every element seems to come together in perfect balance and harmony. Kind of Zen, actually. In my admittedly inexpert opinion, this is the best book on web design to come out this year. For me personally, it's been the best I've ever read. I don't know if it is the result of a random congruency of time, level of learning and need, but this book has inspired and excited me about web design more than any other.