Book Review

Web Publishing with HTML and XHTML in 21 Days by Laura Lemay

$74.95, 1160 pages plus CD-ROM, Sams

This is a big book. Laura Lemay covers a great deal of ground. She does it in her usual style, laced with some good-natured humour, and manages to help readers learn a great deal in the process. Nearly 300 of the book’s 1,160 pages are devoted to chapters for Days 22 to 30. There are also over 200 pages of very useful information in various appendices.

In the normal style of Sams’ “21 Days” series, Lemay breaks down the material into manageable chunks. Each chapter is about the right size for someone to work through in an hour or so and the days are divided into groups of three related topics. For example, days 1, 2 and 3 introduce the reader to the World Wide Web, the vocabulary and the tools used in the rest of the book. The chapters describe the general design process for building a Web site and also introduce the reader to HTML. Days 4, 5 and 6 deal with simple Web pages and text formatting; days 7, 8 and 9 with graphics.

The “extra” ten days (Days 22 – 30), discuss Web page and Web site design, uploading, advertising, maintaining a site and setting up a Web server. This information is important for some professionals, but will not be of interest to the casual reader. Lemay’s ideas about page and site design should be mandatory reading for all Web site designers, amateur and professional.

The ten appendices contain valuable reference information which is easily available for Web page builders. It is important to know where to find the syntax for HTML or CSS tags, for example. Having them grouped together at the end of the book makes them accessible without being obtrusive.

Lemay does sometimes use HTML tags which were deprecated before the HTML 4 standard was released. She also has a tendency to repeat certain mantras such as, “This is how it is done in HTML, in XHTML it is done differently.” The repetition grates even though it is true every time.

This book is highly recommended. If you only have one book about HTML 4 and XHTML, this is the one to own.

– Reviewed by Robert Boardman, who is presently an Information Systems instructor at a Toronto area community college. He has been designing and coding Web pages since HTML 2.