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Smashing Book 6 Review: New Frontiers In Web Design

I really like the Smashing Magazine website. Unlike a lot of tutorial sites they don’t keep repeating the same basic content and focus on more challenging and newer things. So when I was contacted by Vitaly and asked if I wanted to review their latest book; I jumped at the chance.

Before even opening the book you know it’s a quality thing. The cover isn’t your average technical book, it’s a gold embossed, woven, hardback, with a sleeve and the Smashing S logo that you can use as a bookmark.

You can see a lot of care has gone into it.

Head to the table of contents and you’ll see what you have in store. There’s quite a mix of content, it’s really diverse. I imagine that there will be something for everyone, but equally some chapters may not be relevant to you – but it’s all interesting.

Smashing Book 6 has the tagline “New Frontiers in Web Design” which is clearly reflected in the book contents. The book covers things like CSS Grid, CSS Custom Properties (variables), and Accessibility of single page apps – 3 things that are very relevant to me at the moment (in particular with Gutenberg getting lots of A11Y attention currently).

There’s also chapters on conversational interfaces, building chatbots, and AR & VR (alternate reality and virtual reality) – which are all very forward thinking and could be important in the future.

Some of the book is rather technical – the “Loading Assets On The Web” chapter mostly went over my head. I was expecting it to be about loading js at the bottom of the page, and optimizing images – but those were just the starter. It covered how network requests are made, and all sorts. Perhaps if I read it a couple more times it will sink in better.

I shouldn’t complain though – I have long said there’s not enough tutorial sites covering the hard things. Too many have tutorials about making landing pages, or beginners guide to SASS – and Smashing Magazine doesn’t do any of that. These are real world articles that are mostly very useful for me.

For example there’s a chapter on Service Workers which is something I have been thinking about recently for Brush Ninja. And with Chrome 70 adding native support for PWA’s (Progressive Web Apps) it couldn’t be a better time to get started.

Overall the book is great and well worth the cost. For a book of this size and content of this complexity I’m surprised it’s not more expensive. Well worth picking up if you’re planning to keep on building for the internet over the next few years!

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Reviews, Web Design

Ben View All

Ben is a lifelong Nintendo fan who also likes to build websites, and develop games. He also buys way too much Lego.

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