Review: Transcending CSS

~ 28 December 2006 ~

Transcending CSS by Andy Clarke Call me brazen, but I suspect Andy Clarke’s Transcending CSS will be one of the most sought-after design books of 2007. It effortlessly bridges the editorial gap between CSS book and design book, or for that matter, between web design and traditional graphic design; a feat rarely accomplished in our industry.

Esteemed author Andy Clarke is not only someone whom I call friend, but more importantly someone whom I regard as master teacher. His command of markup is matched only by mastery of fine art techniques. These two disciplines blend beautifully within the pages of his book.

From the introduction:

Transcendent CSS is more than a plea to use the latest, coolest CSS. It’s a quest to use the lessons you’re learning in CSS as a means to becoming the finest artist and designer you can be. Transcendent CSS asks you to embrace the new rather than the old and to stimulate new ways to find inspiration, create more agile and appropriate workflows for Web design, and encourage yourself to constantly learn more about both the design and the technical issues with which you work.

I have a hard time not picking it up when it’s around. I suppose that’s because of two things: 1) it’s practical, and 2) it’s gorgeous. Transcending CSS is filled with original artwork by Clarke, as well as photography by dozens of artists whose work you’ll find at Flickr and iStock. Clarke wields his artistic deftness to present code samples alongside relevant full-page photos, reaffirming the technical and visual duality of the book (sample page spreads shown here). It’s also worth noting the presence of Warnock Pro, one of my favorite typefaces, completes the polish on this inspiring work.

But the practicality of the book is what makes this a resource worth owning. The exercises found in the section “Marking Up the World”, in which offline environments become (literally) the foundation for understanding the importance of meaningful and well-ordered markup, are a sound way of learning a “content-out” approach. And the CSS selector examples found in pages 25-30 are rather timely, given IE7 now supports many of them. With IE7’s market share at 19% and rising (source: conversation with Pete LePage), it’s time we think about putting all supported selectors to use.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go mark up some breakfast.


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