original in en Miguel A Sepulveda
|Title:||HTML & XHTML|
|Authors:||Chuck Musciano & Bill Kennedy|
It is hard to find good books on popular subjects like this mainly because there are too many bad books. I tried to stay away from those "bibles" of more than thousand pages, most of which wasted in useless tables and pointless pictures.
As always O'Reilly didn't disappoint me by bringing to us "HTML & XHTML" by Chuck Musciano and Bill Kenney. It is a readable, fast moving and compact book. Those of us with need for a good reference book certainly appreciate this one. It is also accompanied by a great foldable reference card three pages in size. The reference card comes very handy for reviewing the syntax and options of the various HTML and XHTML tags.
The authors use the first seven chapters to tour the reader through the origins of the web, and HTML. They describe all the tags very effectively without losing site of what is really important for the reader who wants to write HTML documents. Again and again, Musciano and Kennedy emphasize a point often missed by novices, that HTML is a markup language developed to format content and not form. I have personally witness the difficulties people coming from the desktop publishing world have trying to force HTML to work as a typesetting language. It just doesn't work because it was not designed with that objective in mind. Musciano et al are very good at explaining the origins of HTML and making the reader understand its limitations. It also seems to me that they like the point of view of emphasizing content over form, so that it is up to the browser to format and present the document as it sees appropriate.
Now passing from HTML 3.0 or older to HTML 4.01 is tricky, specially because it seems every major provider of web browsers out there has decided to implement some and omit parts of the standard. There are also many third party extensions to HTML that add complexity to the mix. In this book I had not much problem following what is old HTML and what is new in 4.01. Also the reader will find nice remainders to popular HTML extensions found in the two most widely used browsers nowadays: Netscape and Explorer.
As mentioned above, HTML was not designed with document style formatting in mind. It was developed mainly by scientists to facilitate the sharing of knowledge through a local network. In any case at the present time the applications of HTML has far exceeded the expectations of its original designers. For this reason the W3C (Organism in charge of the HTML standard) added to HTML 4.0, Cascading Style Sheets. Chapter 8 in the book give us a very easy to understand primer on the use of these new features aimed at declaring styles for the formating of text. Hopefully CSS will help close the gap left by HTML and typesetting languages.