Mastering HTML 4

Trying to learn how to write HTML from a book can be a tough process. Titles aimed at new users are quickly outgrown, while advanced books tend to lose readers with their dry, analytical approaches. The next problem is that most books focus so much on the details that quick-reference and tips sections appear as more of an afterthought. It is rare that a new release can address all these issues in one hit.

Mastering HTML 4 (Premium Edition) is a definitive resource for anyone learning HTML, regardless of their current skills. This book contains a hefty 1188 pages and contains a bonus CD with sample code and shareware. The page count can seem daunting, but this is essentially two books in one. Once you have mastered a topic, the reference section is ideal for quick look-ups to remind you how to write particular code. While the book deals with the new HTML 4 standard, it shows the differences between new and older versions of HTML, plus it gives tips for avoiding browser incompatibilities. The writing is generally lively and easy to read, but on rare occasions it resorts to language that may take a few attempts to understand.

Each chapter starts out explaining the basics, which is enough for most people to publish their site. As the chapter evolves, more complexities are added so that medium and advanced users can learn the latest tricks. Even hardcore coders may be surprised about the new features in HTML 4.

If the HTML and in-depth treatment of Cascading Style Sheets is not enough, the book gives good overviews of creating suitable graphics, JavaScript, multimedia, Web site development and design, databases and the lesser known but important topics of DHTML, XML and DTDs. While a pricey introduction to Web site design, Mastering HTML 4 is definitely worth considering.

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Scott Mendham

PC World
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