Bulletproof Web Design

Honestly, it was more a spontaneous idea to get this book somewhen around Christmas 2005 but judging from my previous experience with Dan Cederholm’s books I thought it couldn’t hurt also reading his newest guide through the deep and vivid jungle of CSS based web design. Before I get to the main part of the review, I want to talk a little bit about how I got this book first:

Normally I buy all my books on amazon.de simply because it’s fast, easy and cheap. First of all I went to the .com site (don’t ask me why) and found out that they want something around 22$ for it. Sure I said and made myself and my bank account ready for a small investment. Since toll sucks I went to .de and … nearly fell from my chair: 47.90EUR!!! OK, so I went to the website of a local bookstore and was quite surprised when I saw the same book for “only” 39.60EUR. Still about twice as expensive as on amazon.com but since I would pay nearly the other half thanks to toll and would have to wait a few weeks I asked my mom to drop by there and get my a copy (was at work at that time). Can someone please explain to me, why I have to pay twice as much for the same book here compared to what it costs on the other side of the ocean (the left one)?


Anyway, now to the actual topic of this review: Dan Cederholm’s “Bulletproof Web Design - Improving flexibility and protecting against worst-case scenarios with XHTML and CSS”. As the topic already says: The reader will get to know some tricks about how to prepare a website for visitors that have their own ideas about how to browse the web. To help you get a small overview here a few of the topics :

  • Flexible text: How to make it possible to design your site with the font size you like and still making it possible for all users (incl. IE-users) to change the font size.
  • Boxes and how to keep them as flexible as possible
  • Fluid layouts
  • Horizontal navigation elements

… and many other interesting topics.

Each of these chapters have a fix structure. First Dan describes how the same problem was solved before CSS was widely adopted or before people thought about doing something for the visitor. Then the author describes in detail the problems involved with these old approaches and how to do it better using CSS and lean markup.

Everything is done on a highly practical basis were the reader always sees some photo about what should be achieved first (some real-life examples are also in there featuring for example the homepage of Lance Armstrong) which makes it really entertainment to let Dan guide you through making the presented design possible using CSS. The whole process is described with many code snippets which are well documented so there’s now way you can get lost in there.

One many occasions the author uses some already well established techniques like the voice-family-escape trick to confuse some browsers CSS parser and also explains them just to understand why they are there. On the other hand I thought it a little bit strange that this technique is used in chapter 1 but in other chapters, where the same thing should apply, the the author doesn’t use this nor any replacement for it anymore. In my opinion a small note for example in one of the very informative sideboxes used throughout the book to give additional information would have been nice. If I have overlooked it, I apologize :)

I have to say, though, that this was actually the only disturbing thing I’ve noticed while reading this book. The rest of the book has taught me quite a few tricks I haven’t known so far so it was well worth the money :-).

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