Review: Bulletproof Web Design

Bulletproof Web DesignBulletproof Web Design : Improving flexibility and protecting against worst-case scenarios with XHTML and CSS by Dan Cederholm (New Riders, 2006) makes me long for a Dan Cederholm fan club to join. The book is clear, well-illustrated, easy to use and provides helpful information. It’s landing high on my recommended list.

Cederholm’s explanation of bulletproof is that pages are flexible enough to be readable in many circumstances. Bulletproof pages are based on Web standards, use sensible markup and separate presentation from content. He takes a component approach through most of the book, looking at a small section of a page such as scalable navigation or expandable rows. He examines the way it’s commonly done, then suggests a cleaner and more flexible bulletproof way to accomplish the same thing. In the final chapter, he puts it all together in a complete page.

Many of his bulletproof solutions involve floats. He also uses several hacks. I’m not going to debate the merits of these choices. He explains his solutions and choices quite well in the book. His results are elegant and stand up to the bulletproof test, and he makes no claim that his choices are the only correct choices.

Many of his solutions involve clever use of two or more background images. (Cederholm was the originator of the faux columns concept published originally on A List Apart, an early and widely used solution to the problem of unequal columns based on floats.) He’s the author of another influential book promoting standards, Web Standards Solutions, and owns the site Simple Bits.

Topics addressed include sizing text, scalable navigation, vertical expansion, float-based grids, flexible boxes, table styles, and fluid layouts. This book is a must have addition to your web design library.

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