HTML, XHTML, and CSS, Sixth Edition

HTML, XHTML, and CSS, Sixth Edition

HTML, XHTML, and CSS, Sixth Edition Rating:
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It's important for anyone who creates Web sites--even those who rely on powerful editors like Dreamweaver or GoLive--to know HTML. The World Wide Web Consortium rewrote HTML as a subset of XML (dubbing it "XHTML 1.0") and the allowable code will eventually be stricter. Tags that are being phased out are labeled "deprecated"--current browsers can still handle them, but if you want your site to keep up with future browsers, not to mention conform to accessibility requirements, you will want to get on top of XHTML.

Of course, Elizabeth Castro manages to write books that not only speak to those who are already fluent in HTML, but are good for newbies too. She makes it a breeze to create sites that are visually stylish and technically sophisticated without the expense of buying an editor.

Among the topics covered in her new book, HTML for the World Wide Web with XHTML and CSS: using the (relatively newer) structural tags (like doctype and div); correctly using older tags (like p and img) that have been modified in XHTML; writing XHTML so that formatting is done by the style sheets; writing those style sheets (cascading style sheets, a.k.a. "CSS"); creating a variety of layouts; and dealing with tables, frames, forms, multimedia, a bit of JavaScript (including mouseovers), WML (for mobile device displays), debugging, publishing, and publicizing your site.

As with all Visual QuickStart Guides, this one features clear and concise instructions side by side with well-captioned illustrations and screen shots that show both the source code and the resulting effect on the Web page. The index is extremely detailed, making this a great reference.

Also great for reference are the outstanding appendices. The first is an extensive list of tags and attributes, indicating which are deprecated and/or proprietary and on which page they are discussed. A similar appendix shows CSS properties and values; given the future of Web coding, this chart alone is worth the price of the book. Other handy charts cover intrinsic events, symbols and character Unicodes, and an expanded color chart that goes way beyond the virtually archaic Web-safe palette. All of which makes this a definite must-have for every Web designer's bookshelf. --Angelynn Grant


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  1. Linda Moran says


    Some book authors are subject matter experts; others are writing experts; still others are teachers.

    The best instructional books come from folks who are all three. Enter Elizabeth Castro.

    This book was a breeze to follow and understand. I have three successful web sites now.

    I also recommend her Perl and CGI book for the same reason.

  2. C. T. Mikesell says


    Prior to reading this book I was HTML-proficient, but minimally familiar with CSS and not familiar with XHTML at all. Now, while I’m no kung-fu master, I have been able to design a simple set of webpages for my church using the techniques described in this book, and will soon retrofit some older HTML-only sites.

    I like this book’s approach of starting with simple projects and then developing more complex ones as the things progress. Chapters usually begin with simple (frequently deprecated) HTML coding techniques and then show a better way to gain control of a document with XHTML and style sheets. Thankfully, Castro points out that the deprecated tags are not only admissible with Transitional XHTML, they frequently provide a quick (albeit dirty) solution to your coding needs – if your page needs only one instance of a tag, go for it, don’t overcomplicate your style sheet unneccesarily. I very much like the style sheet projects; they really bring into focus their power and potential (my previous CSS experience had been more textbook-oriented, so these were eye-openers.)

    This is not to say there aren’t problems with the book. Frequently Castro begins describing a handy element or attribute only to conclude the section with: “no browser currently supports this.” If all of these had been grouped into an appendix called “An Eye to the Future” I’d have no complaint, but to build up these vapor features in the main text was frustrating, if not cruel. Also, I feel the “Formatting: The Old Way” and “Layout: The Old Way” would have worked better at the beginning of the book rather than the end, simply because if you’re relatively new to HTML it would give you a better understanding of what is discussed later when Castro presents the New/Better/Right way. The book has a basic one-page-per-idea format, which works about 80% of the time: 10% of the time the topic should have been expanded to two or three pages (and *occasionally* things are); 10% of the time things have been obviously padded. Finally, at the end of the introduction, a Q&A forum is mentioned, but the URL provided is dead; at first I was disappointed since I looked forward to the possibility of peer assistance, but I later found that it had been moved to the “Help” section of the site (hopefully the defunct URL will be redirected, but if not, that’s where the forum is).

    This book is not for everyone: novices may be overwhelmed; more experienced developers may be bored. It’s a fairly good introduction for the intermediate user, which made it great for me. Take advantage of the sample pages here at Amazon to get a feel for whether it’s for you or not. If the excerpts make sense to you, but don’t induce coma, you’re a good candidate for getting a lot out of this book.

  3. Kathy L. Fielder says


    I’ve been wanting to learn HTML for a long time now. I stumbled on Elizabeth Castro’s 127 page Visual QuickProject guide, “Creating a Web Page with HTML” in a book store and bought it. It was a really good introduction, but didn’t go into the level of detail that would make someone really able to use HTML, so I purchased this book. This is an excellent book that gives details in a clear manner with lots of easy to follow examples. I also liked the order in which she presents things. I never felt like I needed to get to the end of the book to understand what I read in the beginning (which happens frequently with technical manuals). I really feel that I now have a good grasp on (X)HTML and CSS.

    I would recommend that if you have absolutely no experience with HTML or CSS that you also get the QuickProjet Guide and go through that one first. I think having that as a foundation helped in a few places where I might have been a little lost with the detailed reference otherwise.

  4. Rating

    It works just like the links in the web, eg: forgot about how to add an image in a page, then go to page xxx. the instructions are short and precise. there are also useful tables that I look up a lot when creating a page. So there’s no need to flip pages when I forgot the css or html tags. There’s also pictures that accompony the instructions, which is quite useful.

  5. Rating

    I have an honest confession, I’m a programmer, but I had no idea how to code HTML for some time. I first tried HTML for Dummies, but it was of no use. Then after reading the reviews, I tried this book and now I’m glad I did. This book has helped me to get up to speed in my web development projects. It’s a great book to start with and also an excellent quick reference for those who already know HTML.

  6. Thomas Perry says


    I have just been building a website for my workplace, an educational agency for people with disabilities, and I’ve done it from the ground-up using this book. Elizabeth Castro’s HTML book has been my bible, and never again will I automatically turn to FrontPage, or any other wysiwyg web design software. I am not a natural coding person, but this book has made it possible for me. Highly recommended. (…)

  7. J.Rivera says


    I attended college back in 1998 after deciding to embark on a second career. The HTML/CSS texts I had then and the one’s I read recently have NOTHING on Ms. Castro’s brilliant work.

    I re-wrote my code and it validated! The beauty of this book is the straight-to-the-point method Ms. Castro employs. All the other $50 dollar plus books are so crammed with useless and confusing filler text that it would give me blistering headaches. This one is less expensive and succinctly written. You just can’t go wrong.

    I recommend this book as an essential must have web programming reference guide. Get it now. You won’t regret it.

  8. Joy Wandrey says


    This is a great book for getting your coding skills up to speed! If you don’t know the difference between html, xhtml, xml, sgml,& css then this is the book for you. Gives current standards throughout, and is clear and easy to use. It is a required textbook for a class I am taking, and has become my new favorite web-coding/design reference. Contains many clear and well-explained examples, and will allow you to hand-code like a pro.

  9. Rating

    I’ve recently started doing HTML and I have to say this book is impressive. It’s great for a beginner and it would probably be great for advanced HTML as well, if that is indeed possible.

    And if you have the book check out the author’s website, which inludes many handy refrences, examples from the book and even a Q+A forum.

    Truly a great book!!!

  10. Jim Moran says


    There are millions of Websites up and running on the Internet today. Although they vary significantly in their content, design, and use of technology, they all have one thing in common – they are dependent upon programming languages such as HTML to communicate with viewers. It’s the HTML “coding” that presents text, graphics, photographs, sounds, video, and other programming options. A good understanding of HTML is necessary to produce an operational and effective online presence.

    Elizabeth Castro has written HTML for the World Wide Web to provide Website designers of all skill levels with the latest ground-breaking HTML, XHTML, and Style Sheet tags. She presents a variety of sample scripts and illustrations to assist designers to create dynamic Websites. Whether the designer uses a commercially available HTML editor or works from scratch, this book will provide new and exciting programming options that can be put to immediate use!

    The book is written in a clean, concise, and straightforward manner, cutting through the mountains of writing that weigh down most other books. After providing some brief Website design tips, Castro moves to the heart of the book, programming tags. Available programming tags are clearly presented and discussed, and accompanied by sample scripts and illustrations of their actual use on the same page. No need for page flipping here to see what each tag can accomplish.

    Are you interested in putting some exciting programming features to work? Elizabeth Castro suggests that beginners read through the entire book and follow strict HTML guidelines when at all possible. Although her book is intended to be a strict HTML resource tool, it can also serve as a Website design guide that will offer quick design solutions to meet the growing demands of online publishing for a variety of users.

    Castro recommends that Websites be designed simply, fast-loading, and accessible to those using a variety of browsers, platforms, and monitor settings. According to Castro universality is key. Her pet peeves are overpowering backgrounds and unwanted, unsolicited, self-loading obnoxious sounds! A convenient fold-out color chart at the back of the book identifies a selection of available Website colors. Other charts include listings of tags, special characters, and helpful Web development tools.

    This is a top-rated book. Keep it within easy reach of your computer while designing Websites. It’s extremely easy to read and thumb through to find the tag scripting and other information you need when you need it. Feel free to highlight text on pages, to fold the corners, and to insert bookmarks. Have it on hand. It’s absolutely one of the best HTML guides available. Highly recommended!