Head First HTML/CSS finally ships!
Eric and Beth's Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML is finally shipping on Amazon. This is the book I have been waiting for so I can finally learn more about the front-end of the web instead of languishing in the web's dark underbelly (in my case, the Java back-end).
The book is stunning--the Freemans (driving force on the Head First Design Patterns book--one of the top five bestselling computer books of 2005, and winner of the Jolt Cola/Software Development Award), are software/web geniuses. I don't say that lightly--both hold multiple CS degrees, Eric was the original inventor and co-creator of LifeStreams, and both are former Disney executives, where they led some of the entertainment company's most ambitious web-based intiatives. Most importantly, they care about their readers and have crafted each page of this book (all 694 of them) to help those of us who still need to learn this stuff "get it" with the least amount of pain, the deepest understanding of the key things that matter, and have fun at the same time.
It's in full color, and much cooler than anything I've done.
If you want to get a feel for it, here's a sample chapter PDF for chapter 8, a first intro to "styles".
Congratulations to Eric and Beth on a fantastic book, and it's only, like, four months late... ; ) (which in our world, means it was delivered early)
The book is currently shipping from Amazon and O'Reilly, and the usual ordering problems apply -- it's typical for Amazon to run out of stock during the first few weeks of the book release, but if you see it shift from "ships in 24 hours" to "ships in 3 weeks", within a day it usually reverts back to 24 hours. O'Reilly was not as conservative on this first printing as they sometimes are, so we expect no problems getting hold of the book.
[little note: the update of our SCJP book -- for the Java 5 exam -- is at the printer RIGHT NOW. It is expected to be officially shipping before the end of this month... but I'll say more after we hear back from the publisher on the exact status of the printing.]
Posted by Kathy on December 12, 2005 | Permalink
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Tracked on Dec 15, 2005 11:07:29 AM
[sarcasm] Wow! The back-end of the internet is written in Java! Cool , I didn't know that! [/sarcasm]
(Sorry, I couldn't help myself.)
Posted by: Dean | Dec 12, 2005 11:53:42 AM
Dean... if you didn't know that, then you probably thought it was Al Gore who invented the net when most of us "in the know* are aware that *really*, it was Scott McNealy. [Hello? We're the "dot" in "dotcom"?] ; )
OK, point taken -- I'm lousy at sentence construction. And thankfully, yes, the entire seamy underside of the web is NOT all Java, but back-end Java is all that *I* have been doing. Ah... but there is some Ruby on Rails in my future. I can feel it...
Posted by: Kathy Sierra | Dec 12, 2005 12:11:03 PM
Read the sample chapter, and all the lightbulbs switched on (having been frustrated as hell with CSS in my own hand crafted attempts last year). So, it's now on my Amazon Christmas list - if the rest of the book is as good as that sample chapter, then the authors will deserve all the volume they're going to sell.
One of the best written chapters i've ever experienced; i'm going to spend my xmas break cleaning up my home website using it. Well done.
Posted by: Ian Waring | Dec 12, 2005 1:19:57 PM
When does head first agile come out?
Posted by: Rob Sanheim | Dec 12, 2005 2:00:06 PM
Sweet deal. I consider myself well-versed in both XHTML and CSS, but I think I'll pick this one up anyway. I don't care for Java (or any other topics the covered in the Head First), but I am interested in seeing for myself how good these books are.
I'd be *very* interested in a Head First for Ruby. ;)
Posted by: Rabbit | Dec 12, 2005 2:36:40 PM
Ok, I'm just gonna be brutally honest here. The Head First Books are gorgeous. I absolutely love them! Maybe some day you guys could do a Head First Ruby :)
Can't wait to get a copy of the book.
Posted by: rooster | Dec 13, 2005 7:03:26 AM
I'm thinking of getting this as a gift for someone who learned HTML back in the old days and is now a Dreamweaver addict. She knows HTML fairly well, but has no idea about XHTML or some of the new design ideas (i.e. "tables considered harmful"), and only a little about CSS. How appropriate is this for such a person? Would it help, or is it aimed at true HTML newbies?
Heck, even if you say it's not good for such a person, I'll probably get it for myself anyway. I could use it, and maybe she'll sneak a peek at it.
I second the nomination for Head First Agile. That one could be huge. The ideas behind agile are difficult to express in the usual ways (based on the usual premises), and a perfect fit for Head First's way of teaching. I like the idea of HF Ruby (and rails) too.
Posted by: Kyle Bennett | Dec 13, 2005 10:13:00 AM
Sample chapters look great! Why no PDF publication? This is a book I'd much rather have digitally than in paper.
Posted by: Ciordia9 | Dec 13, 2005 11:09:59 AM
Well, I read the chapter. On the one hand, I'm not a big fan of the random pictures of people on couches and so forth. (Although the guy with the laptop was sorta neat.) On the other hand, I suddenly seem to have learned the basics of CSS.
Yeah, I guess I'll keep my eye out for it. :D
Posted by: Robin Z | Dec 13, 2005 1:55:46 PM
Hurray! I can't wait to get it -- I'm in the same boat, a "back ender" who really needs to get some skills with the presentation side of things.
Posted by: Charlie Evett | Dec 13, 2005 3:50:16 PM
Parts of the chapter is excellent. Knowledge management is very helpful with this subject.
Posted by: Ted Smith | Dec 13, 2005 3:51:26 PM
> I'm thinking of getting this as a gift for someone who
> learned HTML back in the old days and is now a Dreamweaver
> addict. She knows HTML fairly well, but has no idea about
> XHTML or some of the new design ideas (i.e. "tables considered
> harmful"), and only a little about CSS. How appropriate is this
> for such a person? Would it help, or is it aimed at true
> HTML newbies?
The book is totally appropriate for her. She'll be skimming the first 3 or 4 chapters for review, but after that, she can dig right into the topics, including making images for web pages, validation, XHTML and then on to CSS, and finally tables and forms. Check out the table of contents which is posted at the O'Reilly site, and also at HeadFirstLabs.com to get a good idea of what's covered.
Posted by: Elisabeth Freeman | Dec 13, 2005 5:13:38 PM
Posted by: Bill Mietelski | Dec 13, 2005 8:11:47 PM
Looks very interesting, for beginners at least. The sample chapter would at least make me look at this series of books if they were available for another technology I wanted to learn.
I did however, think this statement on page 290 was a letdown.
"You’ll probably also want
to find a good CSS reference. There are plenty
of references online, and O’Reilly’s CSS Pocket
Reference is a great little book."
If I was purchasing this book, I'd expect it to have a basic XHTML and CSS reference in the appendix somewhere - I wouldn't want to have to purchase ANOTHER book.
Posted by: Jeff L | Dec 13, 2005 8:31:33 PM
Howdy all, thanks for the comments!
ciordia9 -- Our publisher (O'Reilly) doesn't make any of the HF books available electronically, but from what I understand, there is something underway. Won't be happening any time soon, though.
Jeff L: The Head First series is *not* good for reference. We acknowledge that, but in our case, it's because we don't believe we could do both of those things well, so we do the best we can to make "learning experiences" (more like a classroom experience, or having a friend help you work through it all), but we don't try to also be a good reference book. The only way we could do it would be to put an entire "reference book" section at the end, as a big appendix. We've considered that--for exactly the reason you bring up (which is a good one), but it would be about 3x the size of what would be needed for a reference-only book, and potentially in a less usable format.
I described our approach--and why we suck as reference books--in this post:
The HTML book retail price is $10.00 less than all of our other books, if that helps any (I don't know how much the pocket reference guide is off the top of my head).
You're making me think we should continue to revisit this policy of not adding the reference material at the end... there might be some of our upcoming books where it really would make sense. So, thanks for the critique.
Posted by: Kathy Sierra | Dec 13, 2005 8:49:07 PM
I imagine it would have been easy to throw some reference material in, but I think the goal this time around was to create a learning book. Kathy talked about this in an earlier "Reference vs. Learning: pick ONE" post.
Posted by: Bill Mietelski | Dec 13, 2005 8:51:37 PM
I went through the sample chapter of this book by Eric, a week ago. They have done it. They rock !!! Just like our's Kathy & Bert.
Posted by: Anshu Mishra | Dec 13, 2005 10:32:03 PM
Hi, I just want to second what Kathy said (and Bill too).
Jeff L. said:
> If I was purchasing this book, I'd expect it to have a basic
> XHTML and CSS reference in the appendix somewhere -
> I wouldn't want to have to purchase ANOTHER book.
Jeff - just like Kathy said, Head First books are meant to be learning books. Kathy has this great graph that shows learning books and reference books on completely the opposite ends of a spectrum. Many technical books try to be both... and don't do either well. Head First books come in firmly on the learning end of things - we don't even *try* to be reference because our goal is to help you learn, and you can't do that well in a reference book.
The other thing I wanted to mention is that so much reference material is online these days that you probably wouldn't have to buy another book to have a good reference to HTML/XHTML/CSS at hand - it's all online anyway (although I do like having that quick reference sitting on my desk sometimes too). What's *not* online are good learning experiences. That's where we come in :-)
Posted by: Elisabeth Freeman | Dec 13, 2005 11:30:50 PM
I hear the argument about focus on either learning or reference BUT even in a learning book you need a way of revisiting a topic that you vaguely remember reading about a couple of months ago but you're not sure exactly where. So a good index may help to overcome the lack of appendix. The other area where more detail is useful is for the reader who has absorbed the principles and worked one or two examples, but then needs to check in MUCH more detail some particular aspect, including all the if's and but's. What's the use of a learning book you can't use later on for reference? Surely you don't buy books as throw-away, use once only, items.
I think the book is a little careless in its use of the so-called element and the element (and other similar cases); "", "" are tags, not elements!
Posted by: Wally | Dec 14, 2005 6:12:07 AM
The last comment got trashed by the blogging software (no doubt there's some way to escape this but I can't see this off-hand); what I meant to say was:
I think the book is a little careless in its use of the "head" element and the "body" element (and other similar cases); the contructs with angle brackets are tags, not elements! The angle brackets shouldn't be included in the element name, only in the tag name.
Posted by: Wally | Dec 14, 2005 6:45:51 AM
Point taken - I read your previous post about reference vs learning. And I do agree that the book looks to be great for someone new to the material.
But in your previous post, you state:
"either reference (data and information) or learning (knowledge and understanding), while letting go of the other"
I think a bit of an issue comes in with these technologies, where the learning (knowledge and understanding) REQUIRES the data...?
"So a good index may help to overcome the lack of appendix"
I would have to agree with that as well - as long as your reader can quickly find a reference to how the box model works, or the page on which you show how to float items, I think you'll be fine.
My opinion probably doesn't mean much - I don't purchase a LOT of books, rather I do generally find what I need online. That's not to say I don't have a bookshelf next to my desk with the basics...but the problem is, I've never read most of them. In fact, I tend to be rather opposite of your target audience....I look online for my learning, and buy books for my reference. But, perhaps that is simply because none of the books I've got are any good at teaching the learning part!
The whole "seperate reference" thing is probaby not even something that would come to mind for someone browsing the book in a bookstore - it only stuck out to me because I specifically saw it mentioned in the sample chapter. By the time most people see that, they'll have already purchase the book, gotten it home, and loved the first 7 chapters.
BTW - I do enjoy your blog - there have been some great posts in the past that I've wanted to send to ex-bosses of mine. :-)
Posted by: Jeff L | Dec 14, 2005 8:25:56 AM
> I think the book is a little careless in its use of the "head" element
> and the "body" element (and other similar cases); the contructs with
> angle brackets are tags, not elements! The angle brackets shouldn't
> be included in the element name, only in the tag name.
We actually address this point in the book's Read Me. The text is hard to read if you say "the body element", or particularly, "the a element". It's much easier for readers to pick out when we are talking about elements when there's angle brackets around the names.
In the Read Me, we say that we're going to talk about element names like this, even though, technically it's the tag, not the element! It's purely to make it easier for the reader to read.
Posted by: Elisabeth Freeman | Dec 14, 2005 10:46:19 AM
A new scjp book? I was this close to ordering it on Amazon. Suppose I'll wait. I am hoping there will be a post about it when it's available. Or maybe an email to me?
Thanks! You guys rock!
Posted by: andy pierce | Dec 14, 2005 6:41:14 PM
Is there a way to request a review copy from O'Reilly? I can find a way to get an academic review copy, but not one for review on a web site like Web Teacher. I haven't reviewed any of the Head First books and am excited that there is finally one on a topic I understand so I can take a look at the Head First approach and method in detail.
Posted by: Virginia DeBolt | Dec 15, 2005 6:52:46 AM
Love the blog! Great to see you encouraging others to tap into mutiple intelligences but disappointed no credit was given to Howard Gardner in the posting. Howard rocks!
Posted by: Gail Taylor | Dec 17, 2005 9:20:28 AM
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