“CSS: The Definitive Guide, 4th Edition” Goes to Print

Published 6 years, 7 months past

Yesterday afternoon, CSS: The Definitive Guide, 4th Edition went to the printers.  Eighteen years after the First Edition hit shelves, eleven years after its predecessor came out, five years after I first started working on this edition, and thanks in no small part to Estelle Weyl and a parade of long-suffering editors at O’Reilly, the last changes were entered, the pages were locked, and the repository closed.

It comes in at 1,088 pages: almost exactly twice the length of the Third Edition, with six new chapters and a lot of overhauling of old chapters.  Flexbox, Grid, filtering, blending, clipping and masking, float shapes, animations and transitions, transforms, image borders, counting systems, custom properties (a.k.a. CSS variables), media and feature queries — they’re all in there, and a whole lot more besides.  Gradients got a major new section in what used to be called just “Colors and Backgrounds” and is now “Colors, Backgrounds, and Gradients”.  And all the new background properties!  So many new background properties.

We didn’t skimp on the visuals, either.  The book has, if I counted correctly, a total of 778 figures.  Almost all of them were captured in-browser, and you can download or clone all the files from GitHub.  If you’d rather just browse them online, you can do so thanks to GitHub Pages.  That’s also where to find the transition and animation examples that are referenced in the text, but not figures themselves (detailed animation being somewhat difficult to represent on paper).  If we add figures and animation examples together, there are 826 elements supporting the main text.  Which feels like a lot to me.

The book will be available in both tree-wafer and glowing-display formats from your favorite supplier of such things; e.g., Amazon.  (If you’re going to buy through Amazon and are inclined to support another aspect of my life, please designate Rebecca’s Gift as your Amazon Smile recipient before buying the book.)  I also hear tell it will be available DRM-free from eBooks.com, and potentially in PDF form for those who prefer it.  O’Reilly doesn’t sell books directly any more, but I do believe it will be avialable to those with Safari subscriptions.

I’ll have more to say about the book and its contents as the release date draws closer.  Last I heard, it should be out by the end of this month, but as always, release dates can slip for any number of reasons.  Even if this release does slip, it should still come out no later than early November.

(Let’s hope I didn’t just jinx that.)

This is always a tense and exhilarating time.  What if I got a huge piece completely wrong?  What if I made the wrong calls on what to include and what to defer to the next edition?  What if I missed egregious typos?  What if nobody likes it?  Basically, the same doubts that strike most any author.  But there’s also the incredible feeling of a project brought to its conclusion and the anticipation of getting it into readers’ hands.  This has been a longer-than-usual time coming, but as it usually does, the time has come at last.  I hope you’re looking forward to it half as much as I am.

Comments (9)

  1. Looks great! Will there be a companion update for the CSS pocket reference too? It’s old but I still use it to check my syntax. ;)

  2. I’m very excited that this edition is finally coming out. I’ve been waiting a number of years for it, and am glad that it sounds like it really will be “definitive.” I’ve already got my print copy pre-ordered. As far as I know, O’Reilly is selling all of their books through the Google Play store as well. Will this one be there too?

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  4. Congratulations! Putting a book to bed is a Herculean task.

  5. Thanks, y’all! Andi, I’m not sure when an update will happen—we (Estelle, O’Reilly, and I) have been so focused on getting this book out, we haven’t really talked about what comes afterward. I guess it’s time to discuss that too!

    Matthew, I’m not certain of all the outlets it’ll be in, but that is one thing I intend to find out about and detail in a future post.

  6. The book is now available on Google Play (and ebooks.com, but I bought from Google Play), and it looks great. So far, it looks pretty definitive too. Nearly everything that I have thought to look for is covered. I’m looking forward to whenever my printed copy ships from Amazon.

    There is, however, one noticeably missing topic that I am surprised isn’t there. Unless I am just missing it, there is no coverage of multiple column layouts (using the column-count, column-gap, column-span, and related properties). Is that just an oversight, or was there a reason that this is not covered?

  7. You’re right, Matthew, we left out multicolumn. It was intentional. The implementations are just too inconsistent right now, and there’s a decent change the whole idea will be reworked in the near-ish future, possibly with all new properties and/or values. I dithered over whether or not to write it up for quite a while, but in the end it just felt too unstable and fragmented to include.

  8. I am disappointed that wasn’t covered, as it is a feature that I was very excited when it became available and started to be supported at all. It really appeals to me for print styles. Hopefully it will fully stabilize and make it into the next edition (assuming there is one).

    Other than that one omission, however, I really can’t see much else that isn’t covered. You did a fantastic job of getting what you did into the book. It was a long wait for this new edition, but it looks like it was worth it. I can’t wait to see this monster in print.

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