Design in a Nutshell, 2nd Edition contains the nitty-gritty
on everything you need to know to design web pages. It's the good stuff,
without the fluff, written and organized so that answers can be found quickly.
This completely revised and expanded 2nd edition is chock-full
of information about the wide range of front-end technologies and techniques
from which web designers and authors must draw.
Web Design in a Nutshell, 2nd Edition is an excellent
reference for HTML 4.01 tags (including tables, frames, forms, color, and
cascading style sheets) with special attention given to browser support,
platform idiosyncrasies, and standards. You'll also find lots of updated
information on using graphics, multimedia, audio and video, and advanced
on XHTML, WML, and SMIL. This book is an indispensable tool for web designers
and authors of all levels.
Web Design in a Nutshell, 2nd Edition includes:
Discussions of the web environment including monitors and browsers, printing
the Web, accessibility, and internationalization
A complete reference to HTML and Server Side Includes, including up-to-date
browser support (Netscape 6, IE 6.0, and Opera 5) for every tag and attribute
Updated chapters on creating GIF, animated GIF, JPEG, and PNG graphics,
including designing with the Web Palette
Information on multimedia and interactivity, including audio, video, Flash
Shockwave, and a new chapter on SMIL
A revised tutorial and reference on Cascading Style Sheets
Appendixes detailing HTML tags, attributes, deprecated tags, proprietary
compatibility and support, and character entities
Once again O-Reilly has published a winner. Web Design in
a Nutshell, 2nd Edition, by Jennifer Niederst is an up-to-date
and very comprehensive overview of designing websites and webpages.
The book primarily covers design for the NT server in Windows applications
but there is also coverage for the Apache server in a UNIX environment.
In a “nutshell”, this book is very easy to read and does not require
it to be read in any particular order. The topics are laid in a very
organized manner whereas you can jump around the book depending on the
topic you are interested in.
It is beyond the scope of this book to teach any of the subjects covered
but it does explain the theory behind the design on many elements of a
webpage and provides many excellent quick reference guides such as for
markup languages. It only explains the process and may provide listings
of options available. The narrative manner gives an excellent introduction
to topics, and covers detailed theory of applications. Some areas
are slow and boring and you may wonder why you bought the book. Then
you find other topics that seem like someone turned on the lights.
They really get you excited with the possibilities and stir your imagination.
For brevity, the words “explained” and “discussed” used throughout this
review are meant to mean that the book may start as basic as reviewing
the history of the subject leading into the basic principles. The
book usually goes into how it works, how it is used, defines code structure
and layout and associated elements. Intermediate application and
advanced technologies of the topic are included to keep the reader up-to-date
with the latest version. This book also includes detailed reference user
and design data in many cases.
Beginners will benefit from this book by learning beforehand, what to
consider before developing a webpage and what areas of development to include.
Web Design gives the beginner a basic understanding of the principles
of designing a webpage. The book is very easy to read.
Intermediate designers will benefit by learning something new.
Never should a day go by that you don’t learn at least ONE new thing.
This book will definitely help in that area. One of the biggest challenges
for any designer is to keep up with new technologies.
Advanced developers will benefit by brushing up or fine-tuning their
existing skills. There are many tips and quick references to ideas even
an advanced developer will have forgotten about.
Many website URLs are referenced throughout the book for detailed clarification,
examples and further information.
Every once in a while the book does give a quick tip on “How-To” do
something. The tips are usually very straight and to-the-point with
no fluff or wasted words or wasted space.
The book is divided up into 6 major parts.
||The Web Environment discusses Browsers, Displays, Principles for
Print Designers, Servers, and Internationalization.
The book starts off discussing Browser differences and commonalities
and covers how and why the coding is different for them. Examples
are given throughout the book pointing out coding differences for the different
browsers. Several browsers are compared in order to understand the
differences of designing for each.
Browser strategy design is discussed in order to reach the largest audience
possible. Emphasis is put on standardization and testing so the website
is error free and fast loading.
The book then goes into a detailed summary of Display Resolution.
It covers everything from pixels to screen sizes and colors.
Color differences are also pointed out for the different browsers.
Printout cautions are discussed with fixed and variable webpages, as are
special formatted , preformatted text, cascading style sheets and <blockquote>
This section discusses the HTML standard, tags and how to make the browsers
ignore unrecognized tags. Many valuable styling tips are given for
beginners to advanced users. Global settings and META tags are reviewed
in depth. This section is especially important since the Search Engines
have been changing the way they index websites and this section gives up-to-date
tips for indexing using META tags.
This book is the first I’ve ever seen that actually explains the <DIV>
</DIV> tags in English. A full chapter in this section discusses
creating and managing links. This includes link protocols and everything
from straight hyperlinks, anchor tags, imagemaps, targeting windows and
appearance of links.
The process of adding JAVA Applets and embedded media files are discussed
with examples of code and how the “.class” and “.jar” files are referenced.
Included in the Authoring section is a full coverage on advantages and
disadvantages of designing using tables – from simple to complicated nested
tables. Again tips and tricks are plentiful
Frameset structures are explained with a full section on targeting frames
and Inline (floating) frames, which is a new one on me. Of course
the tips and tricks section taught me some new things too.
One section I was particularly interested in was on the Forms discussion.
The FORMMAIL.pl, FORMMAIL.CGI file was explained and included instructions
on setting up FORMMAIL with your server administrator. This is the
first time I’ve seen these explanations in a way that made sense.
This section also gave an overview and introduction to CGI. For beginners,
this section will be invaluable.
The Cascading Style Sheets section introduced the new CSS2. This
section is one of those areas that helps keep developers up-to-date with
new versions. Part II concludes with an overview on “Server Side
Includes”, how they are used, and the use of environmental variables.
It concludes with an introduction to XSSI support on Apache.
||Graphics and Images
Part III includes full chapters on GIF, JPEG and PNG formats.
It covers differences in GIF87a vs. GIF89a, compression methods for GIF,
JPG and PNG formats. The differences between GIF, JPG, and PNG are
covered with a thorough discussion on colors as viewed in different browser
applications. This section also explains when to use GIF and JPG
formats. Color palettes for browser compatibility and 8-bit, 24-bit,
and 32-bit color is discussed before Part III finishes with animated GIFs.
Although this book doesn’t specifically show how to create animated GIFs,
it does explain how they are made, as well as explaining compression, interlacing
This graphics section, as well as throughout the book, many examples
and tips are given on how Adobe Photoshop capabilities can be used to enhance
the appearance of a webpage. A full explanation of using Photoshop
to divide up a graphics image for faster loading is explained in the Tables
||goes into Multimedia and Interactivity including Audio, Video, Flash,
Shockwave and SMIL
Basic digital audio, streaming audio and audio formats are discussed,
then how to add the audio to a webpage is explained in plain English.
The same is covered in video but also includes a discussion on video compression.
The process of using Flash and Shockwave to create animations and movies
are discussed from an introductory point of view leading into how they
incorporated into the webpage. Examples are given showing code used
to insert Flash and Shockwave into a webpage. This was an item I
found especially useful. It is actually the first book I’ve found
that tells what is involved and what the references are and explains it.
It also explained how to make it compatible for both Internet Explorer
and Netscape Navigator.
Part IV closes with an introduction on SMIL or Synchronized Multimedia
Integration Language and how to integrate the multimedia elements into
Since these technologies are browser version sensitive, the differences
are pointed out and plenty of warnings and cautions are given on the shortcomings
when viewed by older browsers. A full background of each is given
include extensive and up-to-date reference charts on HTML Elements,
Attributes, Deprecated Tags, Proprietary Tags, CSS Support, and Character
Entities. I thought the glossary was a little short, but was adequate.
TITLE: Web Design in a Nutshell
Edition: 2nd Edition September 2001
Author: Jennifer Niederst
Publisher: O'Reilly & Associates, Incorporated
Publish Date: October 2001
ISBN: 0-596-00196-7, Order Number: 1967
Binding: Paperback,2nd ed., 640pp.
O’Reilly, List Price:
$29.95 US, $44.95 CA, £20.95 UK
Book Area Price:
Also available at any of the local technical book stores.