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  • Book review : The Zen of CSS Design

    Posted on November 1st, 2009 Thibaut 2 comments
    The Zen of CSS design Almost every Web Developer knows the famous CSS Zen Garden, a project created by Web Designer Dave Shea aimed to encourage the use of standards-compliant CSS for a better web. Raw HTML was available to Web Designers who had to create some CSS that can completely change the layout of the website, thus underlying the power of semantical XHTML and best use of CSS. This full-color book, released following the CSS Zen Garden project success, is divided into 7 chapters : View Source, Design, Layout, Imagery, Typography, Special Effects and Reconstruction. Each of these ones teaches you best practices to CSS development (including cross-browser concerns in the details) but also to good Web Design in general.

    Pros

    • Awesome book, very instructive
    • A very interesting approach, based on the best submissions (Zen Garden project) to teach best practices and tricks of expert Web Designers
    • Cross-browser concerns are explained very well, into the details and an overview of the alternatives to cope with ‘em is given.
    • A very instructive course about Web Design (imagery, typography, layout, …)
    • All chapters based on real world projects and not on academical examples
    • The best and more complete book about Web Design I’ve read to date

    Cons

    • Not really a con, but this book is “medium to advanced” level, so good understanding of CSS is required before starting. Basics of CSS aren’t covered as the book immediately digs into the details, exceptions and advanced use of CSS

    Conclusion

    An instant-classic, awesome and very instructive book that every Web Designer must have on his/her bookshelf ! Finally note that you should have a good understanding of CSS prior to reading this book and have an interest in Web Design as some chapters such as “imagery” and “typography” are purely dedicated to this field.

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  • Book review : Silverlight 3

    Posted on October 18th, 2009 Thibaut 1 comment
    Silverlight 3 book I’ve just finished reading Silverlight 3 - Programmer’s reference book, which is written by 5 people of Infragistics, one of the world leaders in user interface development tools. Among the authors, we can find Jason Beres who came at Visug talking about user experience (see related post here). This full-color book gives us an overview of what can be achieved using Silverlight 3. Interesting and very well crafted, this book targets as well a graphists audience as the developers one. Silverlight is very much about User Experience so if you’re not interested by the UI part of an app, you might want to pick up another, purely technical book. Also note that there are a lot of chapters, so various things are covered but not as deeply as you would wish sometimes.


    Pros

    • Written by a buch of experts in the field (guys from Infragistics)
    • Many aspects of Silverlight are covered, getting you started for writing nice apps
    • Not too long to read (460 pg, appendices excluded) which is a change compared to the ASP.NET book for example (almost 2 000 pg)
    • Full-color, which suits very well to the UI context of the book

    Cons

    • As many things are covered, you won’t have a comprehensive book on Silverlight here (there’s a chapter which is only 15 pg long)
    • Title of the book says Programmer’s reference but it ain’t because of its lack of depth

    Conclusion

    A nice book I enjoyed reading and that I would recommend if you’re not looking for the absolute bible for Silverlight 3. As I already said before on this blog, so many technologies are being released in a fast-paced fashion that it’s interesting to read some books with a “medium-depth” approach, making best use of your time.

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  • Don’t make me think

    Posted on July 16th, 2009 Thibaut 3 comments
    Don't make me think There are several kinds of books. Steve Kurg’s Don’t make me think is one of these books written by top industry experts renowed worldwide, whose book became an instant classic by the time of its release. And myself being a web passionate, having this book on my bookshelf was just straightforward. As the title suggests, Steve Krug teaches us web usability, that is, the art of making websites not only good looking or technically correct but also usable by remembering us his master rule : “don’t make me think”. All over the book, a common sense approach is conducted to demonstrate and teach us that we make websites for users first and how to build websites that are easy and simple to use in order for the project to reach its goal. Don’t be mistaken : you’ve got loads to learn about this apparently simple, but in fact complex and essential topic.

    Pros

    • A very pleasant book to read. It’s fast, fun and very interesting
    • The approach which puts the reader at the user’s point of view and literally living the experience
    • Teaches you how to optimize lots of things, such as the homepage, searching, forms, testing and many other aspects of a web project
    • The great chapter about website testing, where you’ll feel like having assisted to a real experience thanks to an immersive story
    • At first I thought I would learn little because things seem obvious. And I’ve learned many useful things about web usability in this book
    • You won’t develop websites the same way after reading this. Get ready to start thinking as a user
    • If you’re developing/designing websites/apps, this book is a must-have on your bookshelf

    Cons

    • No really cons. Except the fact that there’s no Volume #2 in order to cover even more in detail this vast and essential topic

    Conclusion

    As you’ve seen, I truly recommend this reading which is, according to me essential. Because too many people think as a developer for the nice-to-have technical aspects, as a designer for the cool-looking stuff, or as a manager or CEO for things they think would be great to add (and the real disaster it is, like doubling the overall font size), learn to make something for users, allow them to find the information they want easily, don’t make them think and ultimately achieve complete success with your web project.

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  • Javascript - précis & concis

    Posted on July 13th, 2009 Thibaut 1 comment
    Javascript - précis & concis Javascript - précis & concis (in french) is a little, yet very interesting book for the beginner as well as for the expert in javascript. This multi-purpose book enables you to discover or improve your javascript knowledge in a fast and effective way. Covered chapters include the following :

    • Introduction to Javascript (syntax, instructions, object oriented javascript, regular expressions, …)
    • Client-side Javascript (the Document and Window objects)
    • The DOM
    • DHTML
    • Event handling
    • Dealing with security issues
    • A reference of the Javascript API

    Pros

    • A small book enabling you to cover the main parts of Javascript in a fast way
    • Very concise but well explained
    • Useful for the beginner (intro to Javascript) as well as for the expert (API reference)
    • Variety of the topics, giving you a nice global knowledge
    • A reference of the Javascript API, which is very useful for further consultation
    • The kind of book I like to read now : concise, fast and great added value. Because technologies are a vast and ever changing domain, we don’t always have time to read bricks of 2.000 pages

    Cons

    • Might not be easy for the new comers (shows code but won’t explain to them how to create the HTML document to contain it, doesn’t define some abbreviations such as API, …). Ok for the beginners having basic Javascript notions
    • Some errors of translation (some Javascript functions or reserved keywords are translated into french)
    • Don’t expect from each chapter to dig deep as this is a small book (but not really a con in itself)

    Conclusion

    Definitely an interesting book from which anyone will learn. Serves as a training book as well as a reference but of course won’t replace a bigger, more complete book, but who will also take much more time to read…

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  • Réussir son site web en 60 fiches

    Posted on May 22nd, 2009 Thibaut 2 comments

    For the french readers out there, Réussir son site web en 60 fiches is a complete checklist filled of very interesting rules and advices that a website or web application must follow. Divided into 6 chapters (marketing, content, navigation, design, interactivity and technical aspects), the book illustrates, through color illustrations, theory, statistics, good and bad examples how the ideal website should be.

    Definitely one of my best buys about web books !

    Pros

    • A checklist close to perfection, precise and concise at the same time
    • Globality of the approach : marketing, content, navigation, …
    • Theory illustrated through statistics, real-case good and bad examples
    • Interesting resource URLs given all along the book (reference articles, interesting tools, …)
    • A great value-added book at a very fair price (about 25 $)
    • Fast to read, straight to the point construction, training book as well as a checklist reference
    • Color printed book

    Cons

    • Could have been interesting to have more technical details about the good practices, but it would have lost its “checklist” philosophy
    • Honestly nothing else. As I said, one of my best buys of web books

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  • Books from the Techdays

    Posted on March 18th, 2009 Thibaut No comments
    Books from Techdays I’ve bought 3 books from the Techdays as discounts up to 30% were applicable. These books are Code Complete, .NET Architecting - Applications for the Enterprise and Visual Studio Tips. So expect to find reviews of these ones in the Books section later on ;)

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  • AJAX tête la première

    Posted on March 4th, 2009 Thibaut 2 comments
    Ajax tête la première Ajax tête la première, or the equivalent in english Ajax head first, introduces you to dynamic and asynchronous UI development. In this book, you will not only learn how Ajax works (XmlHttp, aynchronous requests, callbacks, …) but also how to make effective use of it into your webpages with DOM, JSON, XML, etc… Through multiple application examples, the authors let you put into practise the theory following an interesting incremental approach. Starting with a very basic application, you will add blocks that will transform it into a reactive and modern one, with security issues - such as Sql injection - kept in mind. Below the pros and cons of this book :

    Pros

    • Very clear and well explained book (head first collection reputation)
    • Iterative approach : introduces basic concepts, then new ones through refactoring of previous code examples
    • Originality of examples : surf shop, the chaos project, …
    • Interesting chapter about the Document Object Model (DOM)
    • Also deals with security issues (Sql injection, …)
    • Briefly introduces the main javascript libraries and frameworks, such as script.aculo.usprototype and dojo

    Cons

    • I found the beginning too long (in fact too easy)
    •  Some minor errors in the book, including technical ones

    Conclusion

    I really appreciated this reading, which I found very original and very instructive at the same time. Covered topics, including Ajax basics, Javascript, Xml, Json, Dom and security will give you a strong starting point to go further in Ajax development. A must have.

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  • CSS 2

    Posted on March 4th, 2009 Thibaut 1 comment
    CSS 2 CSS 2 - Pratique du design web is a french book that I’ve read recently. The author, Raphaël Goetter, is known for being the founder of www.alsacreations.com, a very interesting website containing many tutorials about web development. As the title suggests, this book is completely dedicated to CSS 2 and its good practises. Before reading this book, I already had a good knowledge of CSS. By good knowledge, I mean that I could do almost what I wanted to obtain some layout, sometimes in the good way but also sometimes in the bad one. And this is why I foud this book so valuable : this book taught me the good way to do things in CSS. If you still use tables for page layouts or menus, then this is a reading for you ! You think that the tags <em> and <i>, or <b> and <strong> are just two different ways to do the same thing ? Then you should also consider reading this book. Below, the pros and cons of the book :

    Pros

    • Brings you back to the browsers war of the 90’s and thus to the root of multi-browser optimization problem
    • Emphasizes the importance of W3C, the respect of the standards and website accessibility
    • Teaches you essential techniques, such as the tableless design
    • Comprehensive : fonts, typography, colors, alignment, css for screen or print, …
    • Introduces the main bugs of most popular browsers and workarounds
    • Interesting approach : all along the book, you keep building a complete - real world like - website as you learn new concepts

    Cons

    • A bigger book would have been interesting in order to cover even more aspects of CSS (more real-wold cases)

    Conclusion

    I found this reading very interesting and valuable, even though I had a good knowledge of CSS. This is a book I would definitely recommend to anyone involved in web development.

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  • Book reviews

    Posted on March 4th, 2009 Thibaut No comments

    In this section, you will find reviews about books that I’ve read. For each book, I will discuss the pros and cons, what I found interesting, or at the contrary boring and if according to me it’s a reading that I would recommend.

    Don’t hesitate to comment for the books you’ve read also !

    Have a nice reading,

    - Thibaut

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