Making Book

Published 13 years, 11 months ago

This past weekend, the folks at O’Reilly and I wrapped up the final edits and adjustments to Cascading Style Sheets: The Definitive Guide, 2nd Edition.  The in-stock date is near the end of this month, so it ought to be physically sitting on shelves by the beginning of April, maybe sooner.  The page count listed on the O’Reilly page (as I write this) is an early estimate and too high; the actual page count will be closer to 550 pages.  There are a few reasons for this drop in pages:

  • The support charts have been dropped.  When the first edition came out, it made sense to include that kind of information in an appendix, so we did.  As I recently wrote on www-style, the world is much different now, and the day of nifty support charts may well have passed.  In the CSS realm, anyway.  To even present a simple yes/no support chart for CSS2 would have been a dozen pages long, and a nuanced chart with notes would easily have run five times that long.  I still have notes and warnings about particularly egregious problems sprinkled through the text, though.
  • The “CSS In Action” and “Look Ahead” chapters were also dropped.  There is plenty information available these days on how to actually use CSS, so we decided not to be redundant.  As for looking ahead, even a high-level overview of where CSS3 is headed could be a hundred pages long, and out of date the minute we printed it.  Better to wait and see where things end up than make a lot of ill-informed guesses.
  • By rearranging the way information was presented, I was able to cut a lot of redundancies that bedeviled the first edition.  I also cut out some material that seemed important back in 1999, but has long since become irrelevant (like notes about what IE3 does or doesn’t do).
  • The figure count has been scaled back.  There are still a few hundred figures throughout the book, but I went to some effort to combine several points into a single figure when I could, and not illustrate every little point I made.  You really only need to see so many examples of “boldface text,” you know?
  • The text doesn’t spend time on things that were in CSS2 but aren’t in CSS2.1, and that nobody will likely ever support.  This means that some paged-media properties like marks weren’t described, and I didn’t waste time on the CSS2 marker-styling features since they will almost certainly die out and be replaced by a different approach in CSS3.  I did cover properties like font-size-adjust and text-shadow, but not in major detail.

So the second edition is an update of about 380 pages of the first edition, once you subtract out the stuff that was cut.  Every chapter of the first edition was reviewed and, in most cases, significantly overhauled even if it wasn’t expanded (for example, the Fonts chapter didn’t gain a lot, but it was still reworked to reduce the number of figures needed and to clarify some points).  There are four all-new chapters, five chapters with significant additions or revisions, and five more that were lightly to moderately revised.  So it’s practically a whole new book.

That’s even more true of the book I have coming out in mid- to late April from New Riders: More Eric Meyer on CSS, a sequel to Eric Meyer on CSS.  And when I say “sequel,” I really mean it: this is a collection of ten entirely new projects, so it is not a new edition of the older book.  You can own one without the other, although of course you should buy both!  Baby needs a new pair of shoes, after all.  (Okay, that’s a lie; she’s too little to be wearing shoes.  But you know what I mean.)  I’ll have more details as they become available.

  1. […] revious version. The only thing missing are the browser support charts. While I understand the philosophy behind leaving these out, and the next-to-impossible task it would have been to […]