Monday, December 15, 2014

"Responsive Web Design with CSS3 and HTML5" by Ben Frain Review

As the title of the book implies, it is focused very much on responsive web design, and how HTML5 and CSS3 contribute to this.  If you’re well-versed with responsive web design, CSS3 and HTML5, this book is not for you.  If you feel like there are gaps in your knowledge of any of those three aspects, this book may be of great benefit to you.  Even if the end result is simply knowing what you don’t know.

For those of you new to CSS3, HTML5 or responsive web design in general, this book is an excellent source of information.  It covers the theoretical aspects of responsive web design, down to practical, real-world problems you face with some elements (i.e. iFrames).  HTML5 is introduced fairly well, supplying information about the new HTML elements, as well as outlining HTML documents.  CSS3 is covered very thoroughly, and should leave you with a working understanding of the new features of CSS3, as well as a basic understanding of CSS in general.

The last chapter of the book is dedicated to cross-browser issues, and designing for high resolution devices.  This is beneficial, as some issues are recurring, and this chapter gives you a good basis from which to design solutions to these issues.

The book generally puts the chapters in context, explaining why responsive web design (or certain aspects) are worthwhile in a project, and when something like a dedicated mobile site is a better solution.  It offers numerous images, and explains what makes the example image good or bad (in terms of responsive web design), while also giving you the background understanding of how grids are created, while suggesting some grid frameworks.  The author has managed to cover every topic I feel a responsive web developer and designer needs to know.  Some topics are most beneficial when studied with previous knowledge of HTML and CSS, but even with little to no knowledge, you should be able to follow the chapters and understand what is happening.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Review: Learning Zurb Foundation by Kevin Horek

Zurb Foundation is a framework that offers many capabilities for any website, and this book manages to illustrate the ins and outs of most of them.  The book is structured well, and each example includes the code, and a description of what the result should look like.  Unfortunately, for many of the early chapters there are no diagrams or screenshots of what the results should look like.  The introductory chapters may actually be the chapters where readers run into issues, as opposed to the last chapters, and so it seems a little remiss.

The language in the book is easy to follow, while remaining formal enough to sound professional.  The examples given, as well as the premise of the book (prototyping via Foundation) are both applicable, and useful.  The second half of the book is dedicated to creating a prototype, as well as focusing on what’s required to run foundation in your project.  Some of the chapters on configuring your project folder seemed a little brief for those unfamiliar with the tools being used, but overall conveyed all important information.  This is hardly a fault, as the book is focused more on using Zurb Foundation than installing it (which is covered fairly well on their website as well).

To sum up:  The book is a well-written example of how to use Zurb Foundation to create a prototype, while offering some further information into the features available, as well as how to configure and test your website.  While it could use a few more visual examples in the introductory chapters, it is otherwise a good resource for developers interested in using Foundation to prototype websites.

The book can be found here, if you're interested.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Review: Web Development with MongoDB and NodeJS

Summary: An excellent guide to both web development (in general), as well as NodeJS and MongoDB specifically.

This eBook manages to do almost everything right.  By the end of the book, you’ll have been led through the entire process of designing and testing a web application using Node.js and MongoDB, as well as having some extra information in the last few chapters.  The one problem I ran into was in Chapter 4 (Express.js).  The current version of npm (at the time of writing: 2.1.2) did not allow me to install a working version of Express.js 3.5.1, due to changes in dependency packages.  Instead, I had to follow the instructions while taking into account the information at the end of chapter 4 (on Express.js version 4).

Apart from this one small setback (which, in all honesty, cannot be attributed to the author) the book is written very clearly, and laid out in the way one would approach such a project.  The formatting of the book allows the reader to clearly understand what sections of code are relevant to the explanation, and the supplied downloads offer working examples for each chapter (while some changes may be required for the Express.JS files).  By the end of the book, you should have a good idea of how to approach such a project, as well as having a working application.  From there, you should have a good foundation for starting a project of your own design.

If you’re interested in gathering as much information as possible on this topic, the book also offers relevant links and as much extra information as can be included without detracting from the actual material of the book.  Along with this abundance of information, the formatting of the book (the pub version at least) offered a very thorough table of contents, and a linked index section at the back of the book.  Couple this with the ability to search the ebook, you should be able to find any relevant information as quickly and efficiently as possible.

The book can be found here, if you're interested.