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Review The Ultimate HTML Reference

Discussion in 'Articles, Reviews and Interviews' started by tripwire45, Jul 13, 2008.

  1. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    Author: Ian Lloyd
    Format: Hardcover, 552 pages
    Publisher: SitePoint ( May 19, 2008 )
    ISBN-10: 0980285887
    ISBN-13: 978-0980285888

    Review by James Pyles
    July 13, 2008

    Not quite four months ago, I wrote a review for SitePoint's "The Ultimate CSS Reference" for The Linux Tutorial website. I wrote the review based on the online version (which has since been made accessible to everyone) and overall, found the book to be very, very good (if not 100% "ultimate"...I'm kind of hard to convince that any one source of information is all I'll ever need). I since have gotten my hands on the hardcopy of this text and am very proud to own it. When it's "mate", "The Ultimate HTML Reference" arrived in the mail, naturally, I was interested to see how it compared.

    The author Ian Lloyd has already written the bestseller "Build Your Own Web Site The Right Way Using HTML & CSS", also published by SitePoint, so expectations ran high as I opened the pages of this book. There isn't a lot of "messing around" and the book gets right down to business. Lloyd tells the reader from the start, that this isn't just about slapping together a website, shooting from the hip using HTML. He's well versed in XHTML (HTML/XML) and the most current standards, so he's interested in providing not only a good general reference, but one with the intent of teaching readers to build web sites "the right way". If you have sloppy web building habits, it won't be because of Lloyd's book.

    To some degree, the book is about the evolution of HTML. It isn't really, but you do learn about each and every tag (at least the ones I can think of), their available parameters, and if they are current, depreciated, or just plain obsolete. The differences between "vanilla" HTML and XHTML are spelled out for you, and illustrative code snippets are presented throughout.

    The book is intended to be a reference, which means it's your "dictionary" for HTML. The structure of the chapters is logical, so you can usually find the reference for the tag you're looking for by a quick scan of the table of contents. Please keep this point in mind, because this isn't a book designed to teach the beginner how to build a web site with HTML. It's a book designed to help someone building a web site look up information on specific HTML tags as needed. That means it really helps if you already know a bit about building sites.

    A typical reference is made up of the name of the tag, a code example of how it's used, a description, a Value section telling you about the available attributes the tag takes, and a browser compatibility chart. There is also a small, tabular reference in the upper right of the page describing the specifications (depreciated? required? version?) and browser support. In short, everything you should need to know about the tag "in a nutshell", to coin a phrase.

    Lloyd includes three appendix sections, presenting "Deprecated Elements", "Proprietary and Nonstandard Elements", and an "Alphabetic Element Index" (just in case you can remember the name of the element, but not the category in which it should be found). These sections actually just list the name of the elements and what page you can find them on in the text, so they don't contain more than a set of indexes would offer. Their purpose is only to point you to the right part of the book.

    Like its CSS counterpart, this book also has an online reference: http://reference.sitepoint.com/html, so a quick copy and paste of some HTML source is only a few mouse clicks away.

    The other day, one of the managers at the site where I'm on contract asked if I was a "web guy". Of course I said "yes" (another testament to Technical Writers needing to be generalists), but since I don't build web sites on a daily basis, I started thinking of what books I'd need to bring into the office. This book is one of them.
     
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  2. Mitzs
    Honorary Member

    Mitzs Ducktape Goddess

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    Thanks for the review Trip. Even though I have several HTML books this one sounds like I need to add it to my collection. I like how you classified it as a HTML Dictionary. So it has just gone into my wish list at Amazon.
     
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