The Book of CSS 3

A Developer’s Guide to the Future of Web Design
Peter Gasston guides you through what is not so much a specification as a set of features that will someday become CSS 3.
Peter Gasston has put together a book that navigates what is not so much a specification as a set of features that will someday become CSS3. The thing is CSS 3 has been under development since the early 2000s and is mostly supported on modern browsers. That said, the standard is still evolving, arguably led by the WebKit web browser engine. Modern browsers support a growing list of enhancements ranging from text effects to animation and 3D rendering, all broadly (and more often than not incompatible) support new ways to display content.

Early in CSS3’s history, it was decided that the specification would be broken into sections so that different parts could be completed on different schedules. As a result, some parts are more complete than others. Reading through you get a sense of what areas are stable and ready to use, while other sections of CSS3 are going to continue to evolve.

The best thing about this book is the depth of knowledge the author brings to the book. From the history of the CSS to the subtle differences between different ways of the same browser interprets CSS, there is a lot of depth here. A case in point would be Firefox’s mishandling of images that don’t fit in a column.

The book chapters include a brief history of CSS3, the very-useful media queries (better than browser sniffing – the browser tells you what it supports). For jQuery users, the chapter on Selectors will introduce the familiar attribute selectors. Chapter 5, 6 and 7 cover web fonts (such as Google’s) text effects and multiple columns Chapters 8 to 14 cover a lot of the visual frills that are usually shown as “HTML5 demos”. This includes everything from the new border types, gradients, transformations (both 2D and 3D) as well as animation.

See also  Pro Javascript Techniques

The book’s subtitle, “the future of web design” is appropriate because as of now, most of the good stuff is only really fully supported on mobile (Android and iOS) platforms. On the desktop Internet Explorer is only supporting many features in its very recent versions. Nevertheless, as someone once said, the future is where we’re going to spend the rest of our lives, so this book will likely continue to be useful for some time.

Overall, if you’re looking to put CSS to use in your websites, this is the book to pick up. I’ve recently been working on a website that makes use of media queries extensively to get it working on everything from laptops, iPads, Playbooks and phones and the section proved very helpful.