Learning to code can be a daunting task, yet the benefits of having the skill expand beyond a simple line on a résumé. Web coding — through HTML and CSS — exposes you to the inner workings of the internet and allows you to create ready-to-publish content for the web, a skill that you may find yourself needing during your college career. Whether you're crafting a site for a computer science class, developing an interactive graphic for a journalism story or building a personal website to catch an employer's eyes, coding can be a truly advantageous tool. Unfortunately, picking up a book to learn more about the subject often yields wearisome pages of symbols enclosed in brackets without much explanation. Until now.
Introducing HTML & CSS, a beautifully designed book that takes a new crack at the process of learning to code. The book abandons the templates of the books before it, namely the hundreds of black and white pages, the overtly technical language and the gratuitous science fiction references. The template was reinvented with specific attention to “the design and information structure,” said author Jon Duckett.
Both of these aspects serve to create an experience that feels much more unified than other options for learning the same information.
The organization of the book is not only convenient, but also critical to the process of learning these languages. Every page starts with a new topic, and each topic features example code with an example web page summarizing each unit’s key concepts. Though each page begins anew, they build on each other. Plus, the ability to easily flip back to old topics and review information is something that shouldn’t be taken for granted. The book can get puzzling at points as the concepts get progressively more complex, but if you maintain a healthy pace and give yourself time to master each of the topics before moving on you'll be amazed at how much you can pick up from the book.
When you initially start flipping through HTML & CSS, its design shines. Pages feature bold, charismatic images and typography. Everything looks great, and reads well. But perhaps most importantly, elements of coding that seemingly should be confusing prove to be accessible to the reader. Duckett’s diction manages to make information approachable to readers without treating them like complete novices, and the design presents it in an attractive way that engages with you enough to merit your flipping to the next page. “Design is key in communication, if you want to explain something you have to rely on design a lot,” said Duckett.
As far as content goes, HTML & CSS covers most of the bases. Duckett, who has written 13 books on programming, insists that this is the book he wishes he had learned to code from. The book aims to give you a fundamental understanding of HTML and CSS, and after reading through this book, you should have enough understanding to build or maintain a website.
The content of the book is also heavily complemented by its companion website, which features extra examples of sample code and more interactive features. HTML5 was still in its early stages of development during the publishing of this book - and technically it still is in development - but many of the features of the updated markup language are still present in the book.
The book gives you the tools you need, but the real key to getting through it is your own motivation. In other words, you have to meet the book halfway. Coding can be tough, but it also really is a great skill to add to your résumé that you can actually teach yourself. And in today's professional environment, it is an extremely valuable skill.