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Old 10-11-2006, 02:00 PM   #1
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Default Designing with web standards

I have been reading the second edition of Jeffrey Zeldman’s book Designing with Web Standards. (Link is to publisher; the book is heavily discounted at Amazon and others.)

I had been reading his essays on A List Apart on the web over the years, but this book caught my eye because it carries an AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) imprint, and I was curious to see what that might mean. Turned out to be an interesting read.

A lot of space is given to defending the title concept, and he includes a good history of the development of the web, including the browser wars and their consequences. And then he makes recommendations, gives examples, and guides the reader toward web standards and, especially, accessible sites.

There were some surprises, among them recommendations to use XHTML Transitional rather than Strict and to build hybrid (with some structural tables) rather than pure CSS sites. I think that is probably realistic, especially when revising existing sites, but if you are starting a new one, better go directly to XHTML Strict (which is actually easier to grapple with IMHO) and table-less pages. He is also rather enthusiastic about JavaScript and Flash, which may be more controversial in some quarters.

This is not exactly a how-to book. You might feel like making test pages while reading some of the chapters, but it is more a collection of snippets than a coherent plan leading to a site. But there are plenty of golden nuggets dropped along the way, and very good discussions of DOCTYPE, PHP and its ilk, accessibility in general and in particular, developing a print page, and the other nuts and bolds of modern web design.

Even if you visit A List Apart periodically, you might enjoy this book.

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