I like to keep up my web design skills, but haven’t had much time or reason to do so in the past couple of years. The last time I redesigned the bookstore website, a new web design technology called CSS was just becoming mainstream. I spent some time trying to figure it out, knowing that in the long run it could help make the bookstore site simple and streamlined and robust. But the design program I use (Dreamweaver) hadn’t fully absorbed the new technology, and the books I read were more confusing than helpful, so as time pressures mounted I gave up on the idea and did things the old fashioned way.
Well, a few years have passed since then, and time has produced a better Dreamweaver and better training manuals. So I upgraded the program and bought two of the manuals, Dreamweaver 8: The Missing Manual and CSS: The Missing Manual. I really like the Missing Manual series from O’Reilly; like most O’Reilly books they are fat, but rather than devoting their length to endless technical detail they use it for extended tutorial examples that teach the major features of a language or program. It’s entertaining to me to work through the tutorials, and after several hours I’ve gained a rough working knowledge of the basics in a fairly painless fashion.
For anyone who needs to know this stuff, I especially recommend CSS: The Missing Manual. All you need in order to work the tutorial examples are a text editor and a web browser. Not much has changed in CSS since I last looked at it, but what I couldn’t puzzle out on my own this book makes crystal clear, and so I’m fairly confident that I’ll be able to use it effectively to redesign the Cumberland Books website and to develop a couple of other new websites I want to build.