I am a huge fan of Head First HTML5 Programming by Eric Freeman and Elisabeth Robson so I jumped at the chance of reading the updated 2nd edition of Head First HTML and CSS recently available as part of the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program. Just like Head First HTML5, the 2nd edition of Head First HTML and CSS is an excellent introduction to HTML and CSS for beginners interested in learning the basics of creating websites. After you read this book, be sure to buy Head First HTML5 Programming to learn the HTML5 programming aspects of developing websites, too!
During this past weekend I was traveling back and forth to Santa Monica, CA from Sarasota, FL for the Harvest Orchard CMS Developer Conference, which gave me plenty of time to read and digest Head First HTML and CSS. I am a professional web designer and developer, but this does not stop me from picking up excellent books at all levels as a means to continually grow my knowledge and fill in any gaps that may exist in my knowledge. The Head First Series of books is a great way to do this as it clearly explains the material at a very fundamental level and assumes no background or pre-existing knowledge. Sure the book was very basic for me and I knew a lot, well all :), of the material, but as a developer and trainer I really learn a lot about teaching, presenting, and clearly articulating concepts to my students and clients. This book is fantastic at teaching the very basics of HTML and CSS and then continually building on the knowledge so that you are using it according to industry proven practices and principles.
This book is definitely for beginners. As mentioned, Head First HTML and CSS assumes no prior knowledge of HTML and CSS. It doesn't dive into the choice of HTML editors and how to set-up a web server to display the HTML, but it does teach you the fundamentals of HTML and CSS as well as those old school ways we used to style HTML using inline styles and other practices before external CSS files. Some of the examples are a bit over-the-top to convey the effects the various CSS and HTML properties have on an element, but this is a good thing that drives home the information!
Don't expect any programming, help with setting up editors, server-side programming, or configuring and setting up a web server in this book as that is out-of-scope and more dependent on your programming environment. There are numerous HTML and CSS editors as well as server-side programming languages to choose from in the market. Head First HTML and CSS 2nd Edition is teaching you the concepts of developing websites using HTML and CSS. If you are looking for a free editor ( although not WYSIWYG ), you may be interested in WebMatrix. See my WebMatrix Tutorials for just some of the enhancements in WebMatrix 2. WebMatrix 2 also works great with Windows Azure!
If you are just starting to learn HTML and CSS and enjoy having numerous pictures, games, Q&A, and other different methods to understand and reinforce the learning of web design concepts, you will be a fan of the Head First Series of books as well as Head First HTML and CSS. Sometimes the format of the Head First Series of books can be a bit over-the-top if you are not used to the style, but the information is always presented in an easy-to-follow approach that makes these books enjoyable for beginners. It took me a little time to appreciate the format, and now that I have, I highly recommend these books, especially the ones from Eric and Elisabeth.
Learn more about Head first HTML and CSS 2nd Edition from the O'Reilly Website.