Recent Readings: CSS3, HTML5, Drupal & Email

Here is a list of books I have read in my commuting trips and free time:

Stunning CSS3 by Zoe Mickley Gillenwater covers new CSS features, such as gradient, transition, rounded borders, through project-based demonstration. The last two chapters, “Different Screen Size, Different Design” and “Flexing Your Layout Muscles,” are particularly useful for those who would like to learn responsive web design.

HTML5: Up and Running by Mark Pilgrim is a short and concise read that gets you up and running with new markups in no time. Pilgrim’s Dive Into HTML5 is also a great resource.

Pro HTML5 Programming by Peter Lubbers, Brian Albers, Frank Salim takes you beyond the basic HTML5 markups and shows you the power of APIs including WebSockets, Geolocation and Web Storage, to create robust web applications.

Now that GW has announced the move toward Drupal as the University’s CMS, I am starting to read up on the open source system to get a feel for it. I installed Drupal 6 in the past and played around with it, but didn’t get very far because I didn’t have a real project to work with. I actually want to read up on Drupal 7, but haven’t founs a good book yet since the latest version came out not too long ago. Using Drupal by Angela Byron et al. published three years ago, but it is still a good read to see what you can do with Drupal without programming skills. Using existing modules and themes alone could get you up and running complex sites like job posting board, product reviews and Wiki.

For front-end developers and designers, Front End Drupal by Emma Hogbin Konstantin Kafer is very informative in learning how to customize the look and feel of Drupal. The thing to note about Drupal is that upgrading from version 6 to 7 is not as easy as clicking a button like WordPress, one of the features I live about WordPress. Themes are specific for each version.

Create Stunning HTML Email That Just Works by Mathew Patterson is what I needed when I had to create some HTML email templates for the School of Business. I have to admit that designing an HTML email was quite a challenge. In fact, I was struggling with it. I had to forget everything I have learned about HTML and CSS for the past ten years in order to make the design looked correct in mail applications. Patterson sounds convincing about the opportunities for web designers as he points out, “email is a low-cost, high-return medium that appeals to businesses.” I had clients who requested HTML newsletter design and I hesitated to take on. It’s really a pain, but I am changing my mind after reading this book.