December 7th, 2004
People often ask me how I learned all these magic tricks. The answer is books, of course. The books that follow are the crucial books in my education in the ways of the World Wide Web. There are more books – but these are the desert island books.
- Teach Yourself Web Publishing with HTML 4 in 14 Days : Second Professional Reference Edition by Laura Lemay. I cut my teeth on the HTML 3.2 Professional Reference Edition. It weighs more than a Yugo – but it’s really good.
- Creating Killer Websites by David Siegel. David Siegel is a controversial figure in the history of the web – but his book is a look at the web by a person who cares about look, about branding, and about narrative experience. As such his work is absolutely crucial to understanding web design from the pov of a designer.
- HTML Reference Card by James C. Armstrong. Published by SSC, this little reference was so damn handy to me as a beginning HTML codemonkey I can honestly say that I would not know what I do now without it. It only covers to HTML 3.2 – and no 4.0 card seems to be forthcoming (rats!) – but it’s still a great value.
- Database Backed Web Sites : The Thinking Person’s Guide to Web Publishing by Philip Greenspun is everything a technical book should be. It made me think as it made me laugh. Of course, it’s out of print (spotting a trend here?). However, Mr. Greenspun has written a followup – Philip and Alex’s Guide to Web Publishing. Recommended
- Information Architecture for the World Wide Web by Louis Rosenfeld and Peter Morville is a more recent entry into the canon – but it’s a book which forces you to think about websites in a more structured manner.
- The important text for learning to design for the WWW isn’t a book at all. Jakob Nielsen’s UseIt.com is a great resource for thinking of the web as an information space. He does have some books in the pipeline (Designing Websites With Authority : Secrets of an Information Architect) – which I bet will be good. He’s a great thinker — if I can be said to have a philosophy of the web — it’s a melding of the ideas of Jakob Nielsen and David Siegel.
Graphics & Visual Communications:
- MacWorld PhotoShop 3 Bible by Deke McClelland is a winner – it is, of course, out of print. However, there are versions for PhotoShop 4 and PhotoShop 5. McClelland has an easygoing style that’s very friendly to the novice – I suggest browing in a BookStar, Barnes & Noble, or your local technical bookstore before buying though. I haven’t kept up with the PhotoShop books.
- Illustrator 5.5/6.0 Bible by Ted Aspach – also a book which has grown with the times. The first bit of the book teaches the concept of vector graphics better than any other book I’ve seen so far. See also Illustrator 7 Bible and Illustrator 8 Bible.
- Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art, by by Scott McCloud is a subtle work of genius. If you consider yourself a visual person, you owe it to yourself to read this book. In the bookstores sometimes you’ll find it in art, sometimes with the comics – and both are correct. Highest ArtLung Recommendation.
- Learning Perl (2nd Edition) by Randal L. Schwartz and Tom Christiansen, with a foreward by Larry Wall is a great place to start with Perl. After that, you can move to the online resources I like: http://www.perl.org, http://www.cgi-resources.com, and http://www.scriptsearch.com.
- Web and New Media Pricing Guide by Jp Frenza and Michelle Szabo is out of print. Pity, because it’s a really good guide to Multimedia and Web Production – from small to large projects. If you click the link you might try clicking on the authors names to see if they have anything else coming out. It would be worth a close look.
- Despite the cheesy subtitle, the Pricing Guide for Web Services : How to Make Money on the Information Data Highway by Robert C. Brenner is another great book for the freelancer. It’ll help you answer that eternal question: "What do I charge?"