I don’t even know where to begin to sing the praises of this book. I could say it changed my life, but that is so trivial and cliché, and it is anything but that. It is cutting-edge, clever, humorous, playful, yet dead-serious about teaching its readers how to create a website. If you want to know how to communicate with the browsers, I guarantee you will after studying this book. You notice I said studying, not just reading, because it is full of exercises, puzzles, brain-teasers and hands-on experience. I knew NOTHING about writing code before Head First. I bought it in December, 2012. At the time of this writing, it is April 18, 2013, and I just unveiled cosmicdream.com to the public. I wrote the code for every single page myself. I think that’s some accomplishment! Thank you Elisabeth and Eric. My site is a living example of what can be achieved through this book.
The chapters are arranged in a logical order of progressively more complex concepts. It is also imperative that one do the exercises in each chapter. Because by doing them, not just reading them, the language becomes more familiar. After a while, it all becomes easier, not more difficult, as one might think. It’s a matter of putting a new tool to work because a strong foundation has been laid.
There are also folders to download from the wickedlysmart website that supply readers with the project for each chapter. The hardest thing for me was learning how to do things on my computer that I had not had to do before, such as working with Notepad and saving my work on my desktop. Once that became familiar, the rest seemed so much easier. Don’t be intimidated by HTML and CSS. They are really not difficult at all. What overwhelmed me was looking at the code generated by my Word program. I thought I would have to be able to do that! Now that I understand it, it makes me laugh. Work takes four lines to say “skip a line” when a simple <br> would do. I still create reviews such as this one my Word program, because I like Spell-Check and other features, and I like being able to visually play with colors, fonts and text boxes. But when I edit it to load onto my site, all the computer-generated code gets deleted. My code is neat and tidy.
But I think the most outstanding feature of Head First, which makes it unique, especially for a book pertaining to computers is the humor and playfulness. You really gotta have fun while you’re learning. We meet a cast of characters who reappear throughout the book. There’s the gang from the Head First Lounge, the Starbuzz Coffee CEO, the know-it-all teenager and the modern-day hippie who meditates with her laptop in the “Be The Browser” sections. And there’s a crossword puzzle at the end of every chapter. (The one in Chapter 3 is misprinted—I hope they correct that.)
But I think the most clever aspect of the book is the 50s theme. Each chapter begins with a black and white scene that look straight out of a 50s movie or TV show. (I’m curious if they are. . .I don’t recognize any faces, but I’m not that knowledgeable.) What makes them even more amusing is that the conversation bubble has them conversing about HTML and CSS in a scene from sixty years ago! But along with the humor, it really shows us how far we have traveled technologically. (Gosh, I had a party-line phone growing up and a record player that looked like a suitcase, and I could play little red or yellow records of Disney music. Looking back is amazing.)
For anyone even remotely interested in web building, I highly recommend Head First. Even if your intention is not to learn HTML/CSS, you may find yourself getting sucked in. The whole thing is really fascinating, the way browsers display a webpage. And this book is a steal for the price. I got it on Amazon for $23 new. And just published in 2012, it is up to the latest standards. It’s a great book. You’ll enjoy it!
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