HTML: The Definitive Guide, Second Edition

What is really outstanding about this book is the careful attention to HTML portability issues.
  • Authors: Chuck Musciano and Bill Kennedy

  • Publisher: O'Reilly and Associates

  • E-mail:

  • URL:

  • Price: $32.95 US

  • ISBN: 1-56592-235-2

  • Reviewer: Eric S. Raymond

Given the number of HTML books available, it takes something close to hubris to title a book HTML: The Definitive Guide. When O'Reilly sent me the manuscript of the first edition for review over a year ago, I was skeptical—but that first edition earned its title by presenting the best reference material I have ever seen on HTML. This second edition is a worthy follow-up.

The authors methodically walk you through every HTML feature in HTML 3.2, Netscape's extensions and Internet Explorer's extensions. They even cover such recondite topics as cascading style sheets. A handy reference appendix lists all the world's tags.

What is really outstanding about this book is the careful attention to HTML portability issues. Browser-specific tags and tag attributes are prominently marked. Charts like the summary of content-based tags on page 73, which tell you exactly how the tags will render under Netscape, Internet Explorer and Lynx, are alone worth the price of the book. And while non-portable constructions are carefully documented, the book is full of good advice about making your pages browser-independent.

Not only is this a definitive guide, it may be the only HTML book you'll ever need—at least, until the authors put out the next edition covering HTML 4.0.

Eric S. Raymond is a semi-regular LJ contributor who thinks Perl is pretty neat even though he still carries a torch for Scheme. You can find more of his writings, including his paper for the San Jose Perl conference, at Eric can be reached at


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