Books: Webmaster in a Nutshell, Second Edition (O'Reilly)
Author(s): Stephen Spainhour & Robert Eckstein.
Publication Date: June 1999.
O'Reilly kindly sent me this book to review about a year ago and I began slowly reading through it... then I decided "This is stupid, it's a reference book. Let's use it for reference". So onto my bookshelf it went.
First off I should say that this book is "officially" not aimed at beginners, but it seems to me that the author lost sight of this while writing it. Lots of the concepts in the book are explained in newbie speak. Would someone with experience of being a webmaster (the official target audience) need an explaination of what HTML stands for? Or what http it? I don't think so.
While the book was on my shelf I did refer to it often. When I wanted to play with PHP, there it was. If I couldn't remember the parameters for a certain HTML tag, it was there too.
The HTML coverage is quite exceptional, with a full list of attributes for any HTML tag I chould think of. However, there is one vital thing missing from the some of the descriptions. This is browser compatibility. Many of the tags with only work with IE, or only with Netscape. It is important to know about these issues whenever buiding a site. Some tags did indeed mention compatibility, but not all of them for some reason.
Finding information is very easy with this book. The contents is split up into main subject areas (such HTML or Server Configuration). And of course, there is also the index at the back of the book.
However, there were a few occasions when I couldn't find what I was looking for. One day I wanted to use HTTP authentication for a directory with Apache, amazingly it just isn't in there (although there are descriptions of the authentication modules). There is also no reference to the .htaccess file, an often important Apache security component.
The only real critisism I have of the book is that it should have been written in Geek, rather than newbie-speak. I would also hope the the missing content will be included in future revisions.
Added: Saturday, April 06, 2002
Reviewer: David Johnson
Related Link: O Reilly UK