Books: A User's Report
This month's selections include several Internet/Web offerings. For the Internet wanderer, there is Cultural Treasures of the Internet, Second Edition by Michael Clark (Prentice Hall.) The Web professional will appreciate WebMaster In A Nutshell: A Desktop Quick Reference by Stephen Spainhour and Valerie Quercia (O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.); The Ultimate Web Developer's Sourcebook by Ben Sawyer (Coriolis Group Books); and The Concise <SGML> Companion by Neil Bradley (Addison-Wesley).
Cultural Treasures of the Internet,
by Michael Clark
The immense variety of Internet resources features something for every interest. Internet users intrigued by the humanities can access references on art, books, music, history, and philosophy, to mention a few available topics. The first questions posed by the user are usually "where?" and "how?". Clark provides an essential instruction manual for the aesthetic traveler. Part 1, The Basics, addresses Getting On-Line, Netiquette, E-mail, Mailing Lists, Usenet News, Gopher, telnet and ftp (File Transfer Protocol), Archie, Veronica, and Jughead, World Wide Web, and WWW Search Engines. (The first segment demonstrates "how"; the second segment describes "where.") Part 2, Resources, itemizes more than 100 subjects, including Archives and Library Resources, Dance, Drama, Film, Museums, Quotations, and Theater. The third section, Keeping Current, discusses 50 Ways to Stay Current with the constantly changing Internet. The final segment, Appendices, examines: (A) Lists of Interest to Humanists, (B) A Brief Guide to Bibliographic Citation of Electronic Resources, and (C) Glossary. The accompanying Windows/Macintosh CD-ROM contains direct links to more than 1000 references and Clark's audio tour of 27 of the best World Wide Web sites.
Clark's writing style is clear, concise, and non-technical. He approaches each topic logically, first explaining what it is and then, how to access or use it. The author often enumerates the steps involved, eliminating later confusion. The second edition includes the CD-ROM, refines the organization of the Resources segment, updates the entries in the Resource listing, and adds both a discussion of the Netscape browser and a guideline to crediting electronic sites. Many users are really not interested in computers, but are excited by the information the Internet offers. Cultural Treasures of the Internet, Second Edition, is a superb reference for those users and an excellent reference for the rest of us as well. It succeeds on two separate levels, providing both a guide to the various Internet tools and a directory to its resources. Cultural Treasures of the Internet is a superior addition to every user's library.
WebMaster In A Nutshell: A Desktop Quick Reference
by Stephen Spainhour and Valerie Quercia
O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
Anyone involved with Web development or maintenance will appreciate and use this superior text frequently. I highly recommend it.
The Ultimate Web Developer's Sourcebook
by Ben Sawyer
Coriolis Group Books
The Ultimate Web Developer's Sourcebook demonstrates a Web site's conception, planning, and design. Sawyer presents some essential guidelines and describes some of his personal design preferences. He illustrates the options a developer may select and the tools and techniques currently available or popular. The author not only references the development utilities, but also provides the addresses, phone numbers, and Web sites of the companies that sell the products. Additionally, Sawyer examines the business considerations of Web development and its legal and commercial aspects.
This is an unusual and comprehensive addition to the Web developer's library. It describes situations and provides information and procedures not often found in a Web development book. It is a superior book, and Sawyer's writing style illustrates a well-organized, procedural, and a dynamic format. Every Web designer will find this a valuable resource and a welcome addition to his or her working library.
The Concise <SGML> Companion
by Neil Bradley
SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language) is becoming more popular for many document markup projects. It has been a standard since 1986 with only minor changes. (It still utilizes version one.) In The Concise <SGML> Companion, Bradley recognizes the stability of SGML, its popularity and usage, and provides a reference for the SGML user. The computer professional accepts most acronyms, terms, and their associated expanded names without question. However, Bradley dissects the SGML letters, and explains each term in the Overview. Although most of the translation (from technobabble to non-technical English) is logical, his description of Markup is excellent (especially since HTML has become part of the language):
The term "mark up" (using two words) refers to marks added to an author's manuscript by an editor. As well as corrections to the text, these editorial marks include instructions regarding the required layout and style of the text. [page 3]
The author also details the advantages of SGML and explains why each item is beneficial to use. For example, the SGML format is system independent and places the emphasis on the content of the text, rather than on its appearance. Bradley addresses the following topics throughout the compact book: Using this book; Overview; Electronic markup; SGML markup; Document components; Entities; DTD (Document Type Definition); SGML declaration; Cross-references; CALS (Continuous Acquisition and Lifecycle Support) tables; ISO (International Standards Organization) 9573 math; HTML (HyperText Markup Language); SGMLS and NSGMLS parsers; and Charts and tables. (These expansions of acronyms belong to the author and are not part of the chapter headings of the book. The exceptions are SGMLS and NSGMLS, which are both freely distributed parsers, one for SGML and one for NSGML (New Standard Generalized Markup Language). Some of the terms occur due to the fact that SGML has been a standard for 10 years.) The author also includes the Road Map, Glossary, and an Index.
The Concise <SGML> Companion is an outstanding aid for any SGML user. The extremely comprehensive glossary is exceptionally detailed, complete, and demonstrates the quality of the text. Bradley explains the concepts and nuances of SGML well, taking the time and space to describe the theory and practices thoroughly. This book is a tool for the SGML user, not unlike a thesaurus or dictionary is for a writer. Bradley has written a remarkably complete resource for anyone seriously interested in the SGML or HTML formats.
About the Author
Elizabeth Zinkann has been involved in the UNIX and C environment for the past 12 years. She is currently a UNIX and C consultant, and one of her specialties is UNIX education. In addition to her computer science background, she also has a degree in English. Elizabeth can be reached via America Online (email@example.com).