Contrary to popular opinion, sometimes it's okay to judge a book by its cover. In fact, you'd be doing just fine to do so with Smashing Magazine's latest book. I promise I'll dig into the content itself a bit, but first I must confess I spent a good ten or fifteen minutes just enjoying to the quality of the book itself before deigning to see what greater knowledge it held. Smashing did a killer job on this one. The cover is sturdy and adds an enjoyable bit of heft to the package. The graphic on the front is subtly textured, with raised and lowered elements along the borders where the color meets. The binding and matching attached-ribbon bookmark add a soft, glossy flair to the otherwise matte presentation. Finally, each page is a thick, quality paper, covered in carefully balanced code examples, brightly colored graphics, and explanatory writing. All in all, the book nails the print versions of what a top of the line website would strive for in 2013.
Starting a Library
When it comes to books, I'm a bit of a contradictory fellow. Nothing, bar nothing, beats the sensory experience of a book in your hands. New hardbound editions, tattered old novellas, library books with surprise forgotten bookmarks; each one it's own joy to read. That being said, I also keep vast libraries of fiction, non-fiction, and web technology related books in e-book format. Most are readily at hand via a Kindle, an iPad, and my Android phone, lest I ever decide I haven't had enough instant gratification on given day. The Smashing Book piqued my interest, though, as a great place to start my web developer's library. Many of the professionals I've had the luck of learning from and working with have made a point of having a small (or sometimes quite large) physical library of books on various aspects of web development. Some were incredibly focused, and others reflected careers that moved from front end to back end to app development and then some. A crowning jewel in a few was getting published by a recognized group (like O'Reilly Media), and including your own work in your collection.
While I've done most of my web learning actually "on" the web, or in some electronic form, this habit stuck with me. It provided a variety to their resources that felt refreshing to use, and who doesn't like to collect something? I'd been contemplating where to start my collection for a while, until I saw the release of New Perspectives. Combining a nice, quality physical hardback and an easily accessible e-book version was icing on the cake. Once you crack open the table of contents, you know you've got a great variety to launch a growing library off of. Whereas some book series are incredibly focused within each individual book (A Book Apart, also my next library goal), New Perspectives gives you a concise look at a wide range between its covers. Among the topics included, from many different authors and reviewers, are "Modern CSS Architecture and Front-End Development", "Culture of Performance", and "How to Fix the Web: Obscure Back-End Techniques and Terminal Secrets". The authors discuss workplace norms, creative design spirit, software product maintenance and client relationships with equal expertise and excitement.
I plan to do a more in-depth review after delving into the book, front to back. In the meantime, I highly recommend anyone in a web-related position pick up at least the e-book, if not the physical copy. I guarantee you that the content inside pertains to what you do in some way, from development and design to content creation and SEO. If you do, let me know what you think!