Hardboiled Web Design by Andy Clarke

Hardboiled and me have a not so nice history. I first ordered Hardboiled Web Design way back in October I think, it was supposed to ship right after Thanksgiving, but due to the insane amount of snow the UK got, it was delayed until the first week or two of December. That was ok though, it was promised to be here before Christmas. Well, Christmas came and went and no book. Then January came and nothing. By the middle of February I could wait no longer. Obviously my post man ran off with my book (and I suspect he’s now stolen my Smashing Book 2). I had to ask for a refund.

Andy Clarke called me personally (yes called) to apologize for all the agony I’ve been through for being without Hardboiled. He’s a swell chap. He ended up personally sending me the PDF version of the book so I could finally get Hardboiled myself.

Anyways on to the book review…

The book wasn’t anything like I thought it was going to be. Many people on Twitter said it was a “huge” book and 400 pages long, so I thought it was going to be like AdvancED CSS, 400 pages of size 10 font with little to no images. However, Hardboiled wasn’t like that and it only took me a couple of days to get through. It was 400 pages, but most of the pages were taken up by full-colored images, illustrations, code and general font size and gutters. Nothing to be scared of here kiddies!

There are lots of things in Hardboiled Web Design for everyone. You’ve got HTML5, basic CSS3, ARIAs & microformats (two things I’ve never been interested in, I’m bad, I know) and CSS3 animations, transition and the such.

The book was great to read, and the detective theme was pretty enjoyable. Code is, after all, a bit dry to read about, so it’s nice to see that Andy took the extra step to spice it up so it didn’t sound like a college textbook.

There was one, and really only one, thing I was disappointed in. Personally, I’m a fan of making the sites look awesome in the best browsers, and degrade nicely in IE. Honestly, who cares if IE has rounded corners and drop shadows? Do the visitors actually ever miss anything? (They don’t, believe me. I’ve asked). Andy says he agrees with this, but then his reliance on a ton of Javascript makes me believe otherwise. I consider things like Modernizer and browser specific stylesheets to be akin to IE hacks. I know some developers disagree with this, but I’m a fan of clean code, and hacks just aren’t clean.

Now, I also don’t believe in the argument of “what if Javascript is turned off?”, as the average user doesn’t even know what Javascript is, so I’m not worried that Modernizer wouldn’t work or anything, I just don’t believe we should relay on JS so much. It’s slow, buggy and always adds a ton of extra code. Why not just leave IE alone?

One of the biggest examples of this was his multiple background area. When using multiple backgrounds, you can declare a regular background before the multiple background rule, and IE will read this and skip the multi rule. Instead of suggesting this (although Andy did point out in his showcase area that another person did this) he suggested using Modernizer to do this, which was like walking the opposite direction to get to your neighbor’s house.

Other than that though, the book was awesome and while there isn’t too much of HTML5 and CSS3 that I don’t already know, I still picked up a few tricks, learned a couple of new ways to make my code even cleaner and had a good laugh at all the private dicks illustrations. I give the book a good 4 out of 5 stars.

Good job Andy, and thanks again for personally calling me. That makes you a hero 😉

Want to buy it?

Of course you do. Pick it up at the Hardboiled Web Design site!