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Adrian Torres
Adrian Torres

Why You Need CSS: The Missing Manual to Master CSS and Create Beautiful Websites


Review: CSS: The Missing Manual




If you want to create professional-looking websites, you need to master CSS. CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets, and it is the language that controls how HTML elements look on a web page. With CSS, you can change the color, size, font, layout, and appearance of any element on your site. You can also add effects such as shadows, gradients, transitions, and animations to make your site more attractive and interactive.




Review: CSS: The Missing Manual



But learning CSS can be tricky, especially if you are new to web design or have only used basic HTML before. There are many rules, properties, values, selectors, and techniques that you need to know and apply correctly. And there are also many challenges and pitfalls that you need to avoid and overcome.


That's why you need a good guide that can teach you everything you need to know about CSS in a clear, concise, and practical way. And that's what CSS: The Missing Manual by David Sawyer McFarland is all about. This book is the fourth edition of the best-selling series that has helped thousands of web designers and developers learn and master CSS.


In this article, we will review the main features and benefits of this book, and see how it can help you improve your web design skills. We will also provide an overview of the book's structure and content, and give you some examples of the topics covered in each chapter. By the end of this article, you will have a good idea of what this book can offer you, and whether it is suitable for your needs and goals.


Chapter 1: HTML and CSS




The first chapter of the book introduces you to the basics of HTML and CSS. You will learn how HTML and CSS work together to create web pages, and how they differ from each other. You will also learn how to write HTML for CSS, using the HTML5 tags that are recognized by today's browsers.


In addition, you will learn how to use software for CSS, such as text editors, browsers, developer tools, validators, and online resources. You will also learn how to access the online examples and files that accompany this book, which you can use for practice and reference.


Chapter 2: Creating Styles and Style Sheets




The second chapter of the book teaches you how to create and apply styles to HTML elements. You will learn how to write style rules using properties and values, and how to use different types of style sheets (internal or external) in your web pages.


You will also learn how to use different types of selectors (type, class, ID) to target specific elements on your page. And you will learn how to group and combine selectors for efficiency and flexibility.


Chapter 3: Selectors: Identifying What to Style




The third chapter of the book dives deeper into selectors, which are the key to styling elements on your page. You will learn how to use descendant selectors to style nested elements based on their parent-child relationship.


You will also learn how to use pseudo-classes and pseudo-elements to style dynamic and special elements based on their state or position. And you will learn how to use attribute selectors to style elements based on their attributes or values.


Chapter 4: Saving Time with Style Inheritance




The fourth chapter of the book explains how inheritance works in CSS, and how it affects style rules. You will learn how some properties are inherited by default from parent elements to child elements, while others are not.


You will also learn how to use the cascade and specificity to resolve style conflicts when multiple rules apply to the same element. And you will learn how to use shorthand properties and values to simplify style rules and save time.


Chapter 5: Managing Multiple Styles: The Cascade




Chapter 8: Adding Graphics to Web Pages




The eighth chapter of the book teaches you how to add graphics to your web pages using the img tag and the background-image property. You will learn how to use different image formats, such as JPEG, PNG, GIF, SVG, and WebP, and how to optimize them for web performance.


You will also learn how to use background properties to position, repeat, size, and clip images on your page. And you will learn how to use gradients, filters, masks, and blend modes to create effects with images.


Using the img Tag




The simplest way to add an image to your web page is to use the img tag. The img tag is an empty tag that has two required attributes: src and alt. The src attribute specifies the URL of the image file, and the alt attribute provides a text alternative for the image in case it cannot be displayed or accessed by screen readers.


For example, to add an image of a cat to your web page, you can write:


<img src="cat.jpg" alt="A cute cat">


The img tag also has some optional attributes that you can use to control the appearance and behavior of the image. For example, you can use the width and height attributes to specify the dimensions of the image in pixels. You can also use the loading attribute to specify when the image should be loaded by the browser: either eagerly (as soon as possible), lazily (when it is near the viewport), or auto (browser decides).


For example, to add a lazy-loading image of a dog to your web page, you can write:


<img src="dog.jpg" alt="A friendly dog" width="300" height="200" loading="lazy">


Using the background-image Property




An alternative way to add an image to your web page is to use the background-image property in CSS. The background-image property specifies an image to use as the background of an element. By default, the image is repeated so it covers the entire element.


The advantage of using the background-image property is that you can apply it to any element on your page, not just the img tag. You can also use multiple background images for an element, separated by commas. The first image specified is drawn as if it is closest to the user, and the subsequent images are drawn behind it.


property is that you cannot use the alt attribute to provide a text alternative for the image, and you cannot use the loading attribute to control when the image is loaded. You also need to use other properties to adjust the size and position of the image.


Using Gradients, Filters, Masks, and Blend Modes




In addition to using image files, you can also use gradients to create smooth color transitions on your page. Gradients are created using the linear-gradient() or radial-gradient() functions as values for the background-image property. You can specify the direction, shape, size, and color stops of the gradient.


For example, to create a linear gradient from yellow to blue on your page, you can write:


body background-image: linear-gradient(to bottom, yellow, blue);


You can also use filters to apply various effects to your images, such as blur, brightness, contrast, hue-rotate, invert, grayscale, sepia, and more. Filters are applied using the filter property with one or more filter functions. You can also use the url() function to reference an external SVG filter.


For example, to apply a grayscale and blur filter to an image of a flower, you can write:


img filter: grayscale(100%) blur(5px);


You can also use masks to clip an element's content or background to a specific shape or path. Masks are applied using the -webkit-mask-image property with an url(), linear-gradient(), or radial-gradient() value. You can also use other mask properties to control the position, size, repeat, origin, and composite of the mask.


For example, to mask an image of a cat with a star shape, you can write:


img -webkit-mask-image: url(\"star.png\");


You can also use blend modes to blend the colors of an element's background image with its background color or with another element behind it. Blend modes are specified using the background-blend-mode property with one of the available blend mode values, such as normal, multiply, screen, overlay, darken, lighten, color-dodge, color-burn, and more.


For example, to blend an image of a sunset with a red background color using the multiply blend mode, you can write:


.sunset background-image: url(\"sunset.jpg\"); background-color: red; background-blend-mode: multiply;


Chapter 9: Sprucing Up Your Sites Navigation




The ninth chapter of the book teaches you how to create horizontal and vertical navigation menus with HTML lists and CSS styles. You will learn how to add interactivity and animation to navigation menus with pseudo-classes and transitions. You will also learn how to create drop-down menus with nested lists and positioning properties.


Creating Horizontal and Vertical Navigation Menus




A common web design pattern is to use a navigation menu at the top or the side of a web page. A navigation menu is basically a list of links that allow users to navigate through different sections or pages of a website. To create a navigation menu with HTML and CSS, you need to use an unordered list (<ul>) with list items (<li>) containing anchor tags (<a>).


To create a horizontal navigation menu, you need to display the list items inline or float them left. You also need to remove the default list style type and margin and padding from the list. To create a vertical navigation menu, you just need to display the list items as block elements.


padding, text-decoration, and background-color. You can also use pseudo-classes such as :hover, :active, and :focus to change the appearance of the links when the user interacts with them.


For example, to create a horizontal navigation menu with a dark background color and white text color, and change the background color of the links to black when the user hovers over them, you can write:


ul list-style-type: none; margin: 0; padding: 0; overflow: hidden; background-color: #333; li float: left; li a display: block; color: white; text-align: center; padding: 14px 16px; text-decoration: none; li a:hover background-color: #111;


Adding Interactivity and Animation to Navigation Menus




To make your navigation menus more engaging and interactive, you can use transitions to create smooth changes between states. Transitions are applied using the transition property with one or more transition functions. You can specify the duration, timing function, delay, and property of the transition.


For example, to create a horizontal navigation menu with a light background color and black text color, and change the background color of the links to blue and the text color to white with a 0.5 second transition when the user hovers over them, you can write:


ul list-style-type: none; margin: 0; padding: 0; overflow: hidden; background-color: #f0f0f0; li float: left; li a display: block; color: black; text-align: center; padding: 14px 16px; text-decoration: none; transition: all 0.5s ease-in-out; li a:hover background-color: #00f; color: white;


Creating Drop-Down Menus




To create drop-down menus, you need to use nested lists inside your list items. You also need to use positioning properties to place the submenus below their parent items. You can use the display property to show or hide the submenus when the user hovers over the parent items.


For example, to create a horizontal navigation menu with two drop-down submenus for News and Contact items, you can write:


Chapter 15: Transforms, Transitions, and Animation




The fifteenth chapter of the book teaches you how to use transform, transition, and animation properties to create dynamic and interactive effects on your web pages. You will learn how to use transform property to rotate, scale, skew, and move elements. You will also learn how to use transition property to create smooth changes between states. And you will learn how to use animation property and @keyframes rule to create dynamic animations.


Using the transform Property




The transform property allows you to modify the coordinate space of an element. You can use it to rotate, scale, skew, or translate an element. You can also combine multiple transformations by using a space-separated list of values. The transform property accepts one or more of the following functions: