Archive for ‘books’ category

Sass For Web Designers

I’m dusting off this ol’ website to announce that, today, my fifth book has been published. It’s called Sass For Web Designers and has a familiar pink cover. The book is the 10th release from the wonderful folks at A Book Apart. They are the best team an author could hope to work with, and I was honored to follow up CSS3 For Web Designers with a book about Sass (something I was reluctant to embrace for years). And that’s why I wanted to write this book: To convince other folks like me out there that Sass can make their lives easier and more efficient when it comes to creating websites.


I thank Dribbble Co-Founder, Rich Thornett, for being relentless in advocating Sass’ benefits while I resisted for probably about a year. Once I discovered that I didn’t need to learn complex programming or command line shenanigans, and that it didn’t need to immediately change my workflow or interrupt the way I’ve been writing CSS for a decade, well then I was hooked. Using Sass doesn’t mean having to learn Sass in its entirety. You can start small, and slowly add more of Sass’ capabilities over time—even on large, complex, legacy stylesheets. It’s what I’ve been doing with Dribbble’s CSS for a long time now. Converting more and more of the stylesheet to Sass as needed, or as I have time to refactor things and/or learn more about what Sass can help with. You can start quickly and easily, then incrementally add more Sass power as you become more comfortable with it.

Again, my primary goal for this little pink book is to simply get more people interested in using Sass to make their lives easier. Sass is a wonderfully helpful tool with a great community behind it, in a discipline that can be complicated and frustrating. I’m hoping you give Sass, and the book, a try!

And now for a heaping pile of thank yous. To Jeffrey Zeldman, Jason Santa Maria, and Mandy Brown for creating a place that I genuinely want to write for. To Katel LeDu for being a fantastic project manager and steering things the entire way. This year has been particular rough for me personally, so it’s especially satisfying to see this thing actually released. To Erin Kissane for making me sound far better than I actually am. Thanks also to Jina Bolton for tech editing the book, as well as her work for the Sass community in general. To Chris Coyier for being smarter than all of us and agreeing to write a foreword. Also to Hampton Caitlin, Jenn Lukas, and Chris Eppstein for saying nice things about the book and letting us print those nice things on the inside cover (which Jason brilliantly selected to be Dribbble pink, naturally) among the other awesome things they do for the web. Like, I don’t know, creating Sass, building Sass, and generally being rad.

Here’s some things you could do now that you’ve reached the end of this fascinating post:

Bulletproof Web Design, Third Edition


Yesterday, a copy of my latest book arrived in the mail, the Third Edition of Bulletproof Web Design. The first edition came out back in 2005, and I’ve been revising it every few years. This latest edit was a bit larger than the 2nd because so much has changed. HTML5, CSS3, Responsive Web Design—all of these things dovetail nicely into the core bulletproof concepts from the original book.

If you have the 2nd edition, the new version is likely not a necessary upgrade (New Riders probably loves me for saying that). Meaning, the guidelines for building flexible websites are still there, but a lot of the code and some of the examples have been brought up to speed. I’m most happy that the book has been updated for those that haven’t read it before. And as always, I think it’s a great book for those getting started in building flexible websites with semantic markup and style.

The final chapter was rewritten from scratch to include a new fictional case study that follows a very simple example of Responsive Web Design, which I think is a natural extension of the previous chapters.

If you haven’t read the previous editions, I hope you enjoy it. It should be available by the end of the week.

Responsive Web Design: The Book

Today! Ethan Marcotte‘s brilliant book for A Book Apart is available for purchase. You need to go buy it. Responsive Web Design is not just an assembly of technologies, but rather a new way of approaching designing for the web. To say this book is important would be an understatement.

I had the pleasure of doing the technical review of the book. Doing a technical review of anything Ethan writes is bit like trying to find an out-of-place note on Sgt. Pepper. Lots of nodding, belly laughing and, well, learning. (What, you don’t belly laugh to Being For  the Benefit of Mr. Kite? Ahem.) I can’t think of a writer I admire more when it comes to the wonderful combination of humor, humility, command of the topic at hand, and a way of explaining it all that makes this stuff fun. That’s not an easy task.

We’re at an exciting moment in web design and development. At times it can feel a bit overwhelming with the amount of relearning one must do to stay on top of best practices. Fortunately, these little books from A Book Apart help us get up to speed quickly, with a quality you’d expect from the folks involved. Ethan’s book raises the bar, and pushes the industry foward to a newly-flexible way of constructing the web.

@abookapart is the Pixar of web design publishing“, says @dirtystylus. I think Ethan just wrote the next box office blockbuster.

CSS3 For Web Designers

For the fourth time in my life, I’ve written a book. It’s titled, CSS3 For Web Designers and it’s available today in paperback and ebook formats from A Book Apart. I couldn’t be more excited, seeing this little green thing launch after months of planning, writing, editing, fretting. I certainly didn’t do it alone.

book cover Photo by Jason Santa Maria

I wouldn’t be writing books if it weren’t for Jeffrey Zeldman, so it’s especially fantastic to have CSS3 For Web Designers be the No. 2 offering from A Book Apart—a publishing house created by Jeffrey, Mandy Brown and Jason Santa Maria. Their focus on “brief books for people who make websites” was a perfect fit for the book I wanted to write: a practical guide to portions of CSS3 that work today, usable by anyone right now. I’ve been speaking about how CSS3 can be safely and easily utilized on the experience layer of well-crafted websites over the last year, and it’s wonderful to have that research packaged up in paper and pixel form.

Following up Jeremy Keith’s HTML5 For Web Designers masterpiece was an impossible task. His book was the right time, the right subject and the right author. It’s an instant classic. Daunting as it was, I set out on a similar task: show what can be done right now, no filler, and let people get back to work. The brief book format is rather brilliant for these types of subjects, and ABA already has several more titles in the works from the likes of Kissane and Marcotte. It’s an honor to be a part of this.

If anything sounds good in the book it’s because of Mandy Brown, the most detailed editor I’ve worked with. Mandy has a frightening grasp on the subject matter while at the same time mastering the editorial tone. That combination makes her some sort of supereditor (a word I’ve just invented). If anything looks good in the book it’s because of Jason Santa Maria, whose design system is one of the most clear and pleasant book layouts I’ve worked within (that’s Jason’s photo above as well). And if anything is accurate it’s because of Ethan Marcotte who handled tech editing like the gentleman-genius he is. As I mentioned earlier, I wouldn’t be writing books if it weren’t for Mr. Zeldman, so to have him publish this little book is a special thing.

So go grab a copy! I recommend the paperback + ebook bundle. You’ll get the beautiful book as well as inline video within the epub version. A great way to demonstrate those transitions, transforms and animations.

And check out Jeffrey’s blog post, Jason’s blog post, Mandy’s blog post, as well as a sample of chapter 2, Understanding CSS Transitions over at A List Apart which was also published today.

Carson Workshops: Handcrafted CSS in London

I’m pleased to announce the super excellent folks at Carsonified are bringing the Handcrafted CSS workshop to London! Carson Workshops will be presenting Ethan Marcotte and myself in a reprise of the one-day course we organized last month here in Salem, MA. And it’s surely going to be a blast.

Just like last time, each attendee will get a copy of the book (Video Edition including the DVD) and we’ll spend the day walking through much of its content and more. This event was a great success here in New England, and we’re thrilled to bring it to the UK. Thanks to Carson Workshops for making this happen!

So join us on November 23rd at Wallspace St Pancras in London. For more info on the event and to book a place (there’s a max of 70 spots), visit the Carson Workshops site.

Handcrafted Haiku Winners Announced

Well, we loved them all, and agonized over choosing two winners to receive a ticket to next month’s Handcrafted CSS workshop. But decide we did!

Winner #1 is @wilto, waxing poetic about a place we’ve all been, surely:

IE6 lives on.
Box model—and heart—broken.
position: fetal;

And Winner #2 is @squaregirl , who in three perfectly penned lines reminds us of the importance of validation during development:

Curly braces sound cute.
Until you leave one out. Oops!
I fracked my stylesheet.

Congrats to the winners! And thanks again to the fine folks at Campaign Monitor for sending them to the workshop. Which, by the way, is only a little over two weeks away. Spaces are being filled up, so grab a ticket and join us in Salem, won’t you?

Handcrafted CSS: The Workshop

Now that we’ve announced the book, we can also announce another exciting thing: Handcrafted CSS: A Day of Markup & Style will be a unique, one-day workshop presented by Ethan Marcotte and myself on September 14, 2009 at the Hawthorne Hotel here in Salem, Massachusetts.

You’ll get a copy of the book (the Video Edition, including the DVD), and we’ll present the content live, throughout four takeway-packed sessions, followed by Q&A. Breakfast, lunch and two snack breaks are also provided. And we’ll cap off the day with an after party at an awesome location to be determined.

The Hawthorne Hotel is located in downtown Salem, just 16 miles north of Boston. It’s also just a 10-minute walk from the MBTA Commuter Rail station which connects Salem to Boston in about 25 minutes.

This will be a unique opportunity to buy a book, then have the authors work through it live, with a chance to ask questions along the way. It’s sure to be a fun day — and we’re pretty damned excited about it.

Early-bird and student tickets are now available at a discounted price of $399 per person. Act quick! There’s limited seating for 100 fine people like you.

Oh, and interested in sponsoring the event? We’d love to hear from you.

Announcing: Handcrafted CSS

I wrote another book. It’s called Handcrafted CSS: More Bulletproof Web Design, and it’ll be published by New Riders next month.

I had help this time. The unstoppable Ethan Marcotte contributed an absolute gem of a chapter on the fluid grid. And I think it’s worth the cover price for the pages he authored alone. You might remember Ethan’s recent article on the subject over at A List Apart, and his chapter builds quite a bit on that, while tying it back into the book’s case study. And fellow beverage aficionado and bon vivant, Brian Warren, handled the technical editing.

Handcrafted CSS websiteThe book is largely a culmination of the talks I’ve been giving around the world over the last year or so. In some ways, it’s a continuation of Bulletproof Web Design, in that it was convenient to be able to jump right into examples and the core of what I wanted to write about. There are a lot of CSS books out there, and the last thing I wanted to do was just write another general overview.

So this one gets specific rather quickly. And the timing seemed right. The browser landscape is changing rapidly. Browsers are implementing new and evolving standards faster. It’s an exciting time to be designing for the web. Firefox 3.5 has just been released, and with it came a goodie bag of CSS3 properties that can now be utilized between Mozilla and Webkit-based browsers (as well as Opera). I’m using the term “progressive enrichment” to describe advanced CSS and CSS3 properties that work in forward-thinking browsers today. And that’s a heavy focus of the book.

A single case study for the fictional “Tugboat Coffee Company” was used as a common thread throughout the entire book, where progressive enrichment, reevaluating past methods and best practices and flexible, bulletproof concepts are stressed. Part of being a craftsman of the web is paying attention to the details that matter most, and the book is an attempt to share a collection of those details using current methods.

In addition to the book, I also recorded a DVD. A video crew from Peachpit came and set up here at the BitCave in Salem, and the result is Handcrafted CSS: Bulletproof Essentials. It covers concepts from my previous book and the new one, while relating all of it to the Tugboat design. There was also a ukulele hanging around the office and I managed to put it to good use as a background score. The video acts as a unique bridge between the two books, and either comes bundled in a Video Edition of Handcrafted CSS or by itself.

More info can be found at the book + DVD’s companion website and Twitter account, where Ethan and I will be announcing another exciting aspect of this project in the next day or so. Stay tuned.