REVIEW: "The Ultimate HTML Reference", Ian Lloyd
- BKUHTMLR.RVW 20080927
"The Ultimate HTML Reference", Ian Lloyd, 2008, 978-0-9802858-8-8,
%A Ian Lloyd reference.sitepoint.com/html
%C 48 Cambridge Street, Collingwood, Victoria, Australia 3066
%G 978-0-9802858-8-8 0-9802858-8-7
%I Sitepoint Pty. Ltd.
%O U$44.95/C$44.95 business@... sitepointpr@...
%O Audience a- Tech 2 Writing 1 (see revfaq.htm for explanation)
%P 552 p.
%T "The Ultimate HTML Reference"
There is no introduction or preface in the book to indicate the
intended audience. We jump right into chapter one, which is entitled
"HTML Concepts." Apparently the most important HTML (HyperText Markup
Language) notion is that of the doctype, because that is what is
described first, and subsequently gets an additional five and a half
pages. However, as the author admits, you can safely neglect to
include the doctype and still have a perfectly valid Web page, and any
Web authoring tool is going to insert one without asking for your
input (as the page author) at all.
I think we can safely say that the book is not an introduction to
HTML. A number of fairly fundamental concepts about HTML are not
mentioned in this preliminary chapter.
The work is a reference. Chapters two through ten are lists of Web
page elements, covering (respectively), structural, header, list, text
format, form, image, table, frame, and miscellaneous entities.
Elements are briefly described, and then relevant attributes may (or
sometimes may not) be examined in following pages. This format can
result in astonishing wastes of space, such as the sixteen pages that
are devoted to the six levels of text headers, and the explanation,
for each individual (and basically identical) level, that the align
attribute can be used. (The align attribute is the only attribute
mentioned in this regard, despite the fact that a number of others can
be used with headers.) The element and attribute entries are
differentiated by two almost indistinguishable icons.
Almost all entries have some sample code listed. Often the example
has a great deal of code or text, only a small portion of which is
relevant to the entity under discussion. Relatively few of the
samples are illustrated by the screen output, which reduces the value
of the sample code even further.
One area where the text excels is in the comparison of browser
support. Each entry begins with a table of specification and support,
and ends with a table noting compatibility. Where browsers differ in
rendering, the work frequently does illustrate the actual output.
Lloyd is also very good about dealing with the internals and oddities
of HTML code rendering, although not so good at explaining them.
This book is not the ultimate HTML reference. Musciano and Kennedy's
"HTML & XHTML: The Definitive Guide" (cf. BKHTMLDG.RVW) provides far
superior explanations of most elements. Musciano and Kennedy have
also done a far superior job in terms of indexing: there is no index
at all in Lloyd's work, only an alphabetical listing of elements, with
a single page reference each.
Ultimately, this *may* become the ultimate HTML reference. A great
many books have companion Websites. In the case of most, this is a
simple matter of errata and a few additional points. In the case of
this work, the entire text seems to be available on the site (noted
above), and a good deal more. Some of the Website material seems to
have been intended for the book and forgotten. For example, there are
references in the book to the importance of "Microformat," but the
book doesn't actually tell you what "Microformat" is. The Website
does. In addition, the Website is extensively hyperlinked, which
makes it useful and quick to utilize. One is left with the impression
that the Website is the actual work, and that the printed book is an
afterthought. Overall, the print edition is a handy reference for a
quick check, and a useful adjunct in a Web developer's library, but at
the moment it isn't (as the dust jacket claims) "all the HTML
knowledge you'll ever need."
copyright Robert M. Slade, 2008 BKUHTMLR.RVW 20080927
====================== (quote inserted randomly by Pegasus Mailer)
rslade@... slade@... rslade@...
The cry echoed around the cavern and broke through mere rock, so
great was the force behind it, melted mere mountains, screamed
across the miles ... And in the sombre nursery Young Sam stopped
crying and looked around, suddenly happy but puzzled, and said,
to his despairing mother's surprise, `Co!'
- `Thud!,' Terry Pratchett