Web Development Books Selection Guide ( Web Development Training Books - HTML Books )


Teach Yourself Web Publishing with HTML 4 in 21 Days  by Laura Lemay-- Rating:3/3
1999 ("professional reference edition", printed 12/98), 1231 pages, Sams, ISBN 0-672-31408-8, $49.99 list (hardcover reviewed)
This comprehensive book includes many of the same reference appendices that are included in HTML 4 Unleashed, but the book itself, although quite comprehensive, is better geared for absolute beginners, and can take them to and through the intermediate level. The book begins by explaining the most basic concepts of HTML and the web itself. There are chapters on tables, frames, designing forms, beginning CGI scripting, dynamic HTML, and much more. There is a 38 page chapter on CSS, plus a 38 page reference section. There is a 38 page chapter on JavaScript, plus a 48 page reference section. The book is well illustrated, with many screen shots, printed larger than in most books. And this book is very clearly written, making it an excellent introduction, tutorial, and reference volume, much better for beginners than the "dummies" or "idiots" books. Highly recommended.

PAPERBACK - 831 pages 2nd edition (December 20, 1999) Sams; ISBN: 0672317257
AMAZON.COM: $29.99 Availability: Usually ships within 24 hours.

HTML 4 Unleashed  by Rick Darnell and 8 other authors-- Rating:3/3
1999, 1285 pages, Sams, ISBN 0672313472, $39.99 list
This might be my top pick of the web development "megabooks" I have seen. It is VERY comprehensive, and the price is low considering the breadth and depth of content. This book includes 153 pages on JavaScript and related subjects, plus a 48 page JavaScript reference section (this is adequate for learning to cut, paste, and modify Javascript without buying a separate book, and even starting to write your own). There are also 50 pages on Cascading Stylesheets, plus a 36 page CSS reference section. A 76 page cross-browser reference table is also included showing which HTML tags are implemented on which of 6 browsers still in use. Explanations appear to be clear throughout, despite the multitude of authors.

Paperback - 1320 pages 2 edition (October 20, 1998) Sams; ISBN: 0672313472 List Price: $39.99
AMAZON.COM: $31.99 You Save: $8.00 (20%) Availability: Usually ships within 24 hours.

HTML: The Complete Reference  by Thomas A. Powell-- Rating:2/3
A VERY comprehensive book, with an excellent reference appendix covering elements and attributes, stylesheets, special characters, and DTD's that is about 375 pages alone. The book is very well written, with dry wit that is funny without trying too hard to be. Unfortunately, this book was actually written for HTML 3.2 with HTML 4.0 added to the 1998 edition, and consequently there are many screen shots for HTML 3.2 documents, but very few for HTML 4.0 docs. The author's website is at www.htmlref.com/.

HTML Publishing on the Internet  by Brent D. Heslop-- Rating:1/3
1998, 721 pages
Good breadth, and contains a good links list for online resources, but this edition is dated-- the book barely covers HTML 4.0.

Hip Pocket Guide to HTML 4  by Ed Tittel, J.M. Stewart, and N. Pitts-- Rating:1/3
1998, 219 pages, IDG, ISBN 0-7645-3196-4, $14.99 list
A pretty good reference guide to HTML 4, also including CSS but NOT JavaScript, but leaving out many tutorials and examples found in other books. However, it will NOT fit in a hip pocket: it's 6" x 8 1/2" x 3/4" thick. Refers to outdated HTML tags as "depreciated", rather than "deprecated", which is the correct (although rather odd) term. I would pay the few extra dollars (and carry the slight extra weight) for the still better (and 6" x 9") Web Design in a Nutshell instead of carrying this book.

HTML for Fun and Profit  by M.E.S. Morris and J.E. Simpson-- Rating:1/3
1998 (3rd edition), Sun/Prentice Hall, ISBN 0-13-079672-7, $39.95 list
This introductory book is largely outdated (centers on HTML 3.2) and overpriced (with about the same price as HTML 4 Unleashed but a fraction of the content. However, the book is very well written and easy to understand, with some excellent tips that show experience. This book might be a good buy for those who are tempted to purchase a "dummies" book, but watch out for typos, particularly in the URL links list in the back of the book.

Using HTML 4  by Lee Anne Phillips-- Rating:1/3
1998, 688 pages
This book has good breadth, and includes a good links list, but poor depth. There are some very good EXAMPLES of HTML, JavaScript, CSS, and even CGI, but comparatively poor and confusing explanations of HTML and CSS syntax and usage.

HTML Goodies  by Joe Burns-- Rating:0/3
Many good ideas, but presented in a jumbled, somewhat scatterbrained fashion, with lots of typos and some other apparent errors (he says you must use an underscore instead of a space between words in a value attribute, for example, this is not always necessary if the expression is within quote marks...). The book seems to aim for a level of difficulty just above the "for dummies" books, with somewhat more capability. Tries a bit too hard to be funny. Almost the entire book is online at www.htmlgoodies.com, so make sure you look over the website before you buy this book.

DUMMIES 101: HTML 4  by D.S. Ray and E.J. Ray-- Rating:0/3
1998, 266 pages, IDG, ISBN 0-7645-0205-0, $24.99 list
This book is laid out as lessons, with quizzes and tests, and the answers in back. This is alright if you like this approach (I don't). Does NOT have a complete HTML 4.0 tag reference, so you would have to by additional books for this, (or use online references, of course). This book is relatively expensive for the small amount of information it contains. A CD-ROM is included, but the shareware on it can be downloaded online in newer versions.

HTML 4 for Dummies  by Ed Tittel and S.N. James-- Rating:0/3
1998, IDG, ISBN 0-7645-0331-6, $29.99 list
An easy to understand intro to HTML, this book has just 5 pages on CSS and none on JavaScript. Frames are not well explained, although the tags for them are listed. There is no separate reference section, instead the tags reference is the bulk of the book, placed in the center. This book is clearly overpriced, and Web Design in a Nutshell holds much more information at a lower cost, thus I would recommend the latter (unless you think you are REALLY a big dummy). Includes a CD-ROM of limited value (and also mistakenly calls deprecated tags "depreciated").

Using HTML 4, Java 1.1, and JavaScript 1.2  by Eric Ladd, Jim O'Donnel, and others-- Rating:3/3
1998 (2nd edition), 1395 pages, QUE, ISBN 0-7897-1477-9, $59.99 list (hardcover)
VERY comprehensive, with sections briefly explaining how basic tasks (forms, frames, etc.) are accomplished using Front Page 98, Allaire HomeSite, and Adobe PageMill. There is also a full chapter on Front Page and Front Page Components, and a chapter on NetHelp, (a Java applet Netscape help system that developers can add to), and a good intro chapter on VRML. The JavaScript chapters are adequate for learning to cut and paste Javascript without buying a separate book. A CD-ROM is included (in the "Platinum" edition), with better than average content. If you have a particular interest in the applications this book concentrates on, or want one book that includes substantial Java, XML, or VRML information, this is the one to get. If you lack these special interests, I would recommend you save one third and buy HTML 4 Unleashed.

NEW EDITION AVAILABLE: Hardcover - 1282 pages Bk&Cd Rom edition (December 1, 1998) MacMillan Publishing Company; ISBN: 078971759X List Price: $59.99
AMAZON.COM: $47.99 You Save: $12.00 (20%) Availability: Usually ships within 24 hours.

JavaScript for the WWW (Visual Quickstart Guide)  by T. Negrino and D. Smith-- Rating:3/3
1999 (2nd edition), 195 pages, PeachPit Press, ISBN 0-201-69648-7, $17.95 list
A very understandable and well-organized light introduction to JavaScript 1.2, ideal for those who want to know more about what they are cutting and pasting (and how they might make modifications or extensions to cut and paste code), and to decide if they want to get a more complete reference to learn to write code themselves. Not too much depth or or too many scripts, but ideal for beginners. Reasonably priced for the well-presented data it contains. The author's website is at www.chalcedony.com/javascript.

NOW AVAILABLE: 3rd edition (July 15, 1999) Paperback - 292 pages Peachpit Press; ISBN: 0201354632 List Price: $17.99
AMAZON.COM: $16.19 You Save: $1.80 (10%) Availability: Usually ships within 24 hours.

JavaScript Goodies  by Joe Burns and Andree Growney-- Rating:1/3
1999, 356 pages, QUE/Macmillan Computer Publishing, ISBN 0-7897-2024-8, $19.99 list
A better written book than HTML Goodies, but not nearly as good as JavaScript for the WWW, although it is longer and contains more scripts and demos.

Dynamic HTML  by Jeff Rule-- Rating:1/3
1999, 265 pages, Addison-Wesley, ISBN 0-201-37961-9, $39.95 list
This book covers the Document Object Model, JavaScript/ECMAScript-262/JScript/VBScript, and CSS 1 and 2, (but is NOT a reference book for ANY of these, or for HTML), describing mouseovers, transitions, menus, animations, downloadable fonts, activeX, channels (server push), and more, all briefly discussed with a few examples and a few links to online resources (mostly Netscape and Microsoft). The book is fairly well written, and extremely overpriced. Although the copyright is 1999, most of the book appears to have been written in early 1998.

JavaScript: The Definitive Guide  by David Flanagan-- Rating:3/3
1997 (2nd edition reviewed, 3rd now available), 647 pages, O'Reilly, ISBN 1-56592-234-4, $32.95 list
This book and the JavaScript Bible rank as the best books for learning to WRITE JavaScript, as opposed to cutting and pasting it. In this book the reference section is clearly separate from the tutorial section. This book appears to be somewhat better organized than the Goodman book, although the latter might be an easier book to read.

NOW AVAILABLE: 3rd edition (June 1998) Paperback - 776 pages O'Reilly & Associates; ISBN: 1565923928 List Price: $39.95
AMAZON.COM: $31.96 You Save: $7.99 (20%) Availability: Usually ships within 24 hours.

JavaScript Bible  by Danny Goodman-- Rating:3/3
1998 (3rd edition), 1015 pages, IDG, ISBN 0-7645-3188-3, $49.99 list
This book and JavaScript: The Definitive Guide rank as the best books for learning to WRITE JavaScript, as opposed to cutting and pasting it. In this book there is no separate reference section, it is mixed together with the tutorials. This book appears to be a somewhat easier book to read than the Flanagan book, although the latter might be better organized. This book is more expensive than the other, but it includes almost 400 pages of extra information, and also comes with a possibly useful CD-ROM which contains the entire book and 7 bonus chapters in a searchable .pdf format, plus more.

Paperback - 1015 pages 3rd Edition (March 1998) IDG Books Worldwide; ISBN: 0764531883 List Price: $49.99
AMAZON.COM: $39.99 You Save: $10.00 (20%) Availability: Usually ships within 24 hours.

Netscape Developer's Guide to JavaScript 1.2  by B. Anderson-- Rating:1/3
A comprehensive guide for those who want to learn to WRITE JavaScript, not just cut and paste it. Unfortunately, the textbook approach in this case is not very understandable, and JavaScript: The Definitive Guide and the JavaScript Bible are much better choices for fully learning JavaScript (particularly if you are not already a programmer).

All books were reviewed by Jeff Quitney.

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