It wouldn’t take much to get me to admit that the way I’ve used Cascading Style Sheets for Subtraction.com Six.0 is a bit, er, ad hoc. My expertise with CSS is minimal, but with this redesign I made a concerted effort to look to the future and to try and learn as much as I can. My somewhat hazy goal was to follow the principles of transitional layouts and to wean myself off my dependence on nested tables. Though I’m nowhere near mastering CSS, I’m steadily climbing the learning curve, thanks to two books by noted expert Eric A. Meyer.Towards this end, the first book that I bought was Cascading Style Sheets: The Definitive Guide (O’Reilly, 2000). Meyer describes this book as a resource for CSS theory and practice, and like most O’Reilly books, it is typically authoritative. It’s probably not the best place to begin cracking the CSS nut though, and I found myself trying to piece together practical knowledge through a combination of hacking existing style sheets and scouring the book’s index.
That gave me enough of a taste of the potential of CSS that I craved more, and I went out and bought the author’s Eric Meyer on CSS (New Riders, 2002). First of all, I should say that the CSS-driven designs in this book are patently awful; Meyer, while a guru of the tools of Web design, curiously possesses a a terribly awkward design sensibility.
Nevertheless, this is the kind of technology reference that I’ve always preferred: rather than a theoretical explication of CSS’s capabilities, this book walks you through hands-on projects and encourages tinkering. It puts CSS theory to practical use, and Meyer’s casual writing style is also enormously readable I found myself zipping through half the pages last night (yes, sadly, on a Friday night), genuinely excited not only by the possibilities of CSS, but also by my potential to grasp it.