Everything you Ever Wanted to Know About Style Sheets

Good coverage of CSS and XSL, many examples, browser-centric, pragmatic, comprehensive, interesting read.


Style sheets are the key to separating content from presentation information. With a large web site, CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) are a key solution to scaling the publishing process. With the rapid emergence of XML, XSL (XML Style Language) is quickly becoming the focus of considerable interest and potential new solutions to content presentation on the web. Professional Style Sheets for HTML and XML covers all this ground and more. If you work with content presentation on the web, this book seems indispensable and a great way to get ahead of the XSL curve, preparing for the road ahead.

The book is divided into three parts and 15 chapters. Part 1 provides a comprehensive introduction to numerous style sheet concepts and technologies. Part 2 looks at browser-based support, and Part 3 explores a number of more advanced techniques. Chapters 1 to 5 constitute part 1, introducing styling and style sheets, various buzzwords such as SGML, XML, DTD, XSL, and so on, major style sheet concepts, CSS and XSL. By the end of this part of the book, you should have a productive knowledge of style sheets. The many examples are instructive, the writing style is accessible and easy to absorb.

Part 2 digs into the things you can do today on the browser side with style sheets. Chapter 6 looks at fonts and other text properties. Chapter 7 covers object flow, selectors, inheritance and the cascading effect in cascading style sheets. Chapter 8 moves on to working with boxes and layers to position your content. Chapter 9 looks at backgrounds, colors, units and links. Chapter 10 wraps up part 2 with coverage of lists and tables. The information in these pages is non-trivial, crossing a wide range of capabilities and looking ahead to XML and the future of style sheets.

Part 3 goes beyond the basics, exploring scripting style, scripting languages and more. Chapter 15 is filled with examples you’re likely to find interesting and instructive. The book also sports a number of useful appendices. Appendix A describes BNF (Backus-Naur Form) notation. Appendix B and C cover the CSS1 and CSS2 specifications. Appendix D looks at units and values in CSS, Appendix E at CSS colors. Appendix F provides a browser-based demonstration of XML and JavaScript for Internet Explorer. Appendix G has a nice JavaScript tutorial. Appendix H looks at DSSSL and Appendix I provides support and errata information you can follow up on for more information.

If you work with style sheets, whether this is new or old hat for you, there’s something for everyone in this book. The coverage is slightly Microsoft-centric, as are numerous Wrox books, but this is hardly a detriment to the material explored in these pages. Whether you are interested in Cascading Style Sheets or XSL, you’ll find valuable information throughout the book. Its pragmatic approach lays out the information in a matter of fact style that leads the reader to a better understanding of what can be done with these technologies. Overall, a good choice if understanding style sheets is an important part of your agenda.