Review: Values, Units, and Colors: Foundational CSS3 Components

Values, Units, and Colors is the third installment of Eric Meyer‘s partwork-style fourth edition of CSS: The Definitive Guide, previous editions of which are considered biblical by many.  O’Reilly seems to be trending towards shorter publications lately – emphasizing timeliness, as technology continues to evolve at an ever-increasing pace – over more definitive tomes like the 1100 page beast I picked up last year (though it is excellent!).  In addition to shorter, more specific publications, many are offered as Early Release eBooks, which give readers access to fragments of books as the author writes them – an effort which I appreciate, yet often curse when I discover for example that the introductory chapters are not yet complete, or that the specific topic that I desperately need information on has not yet been touched on.  The approach taken here is somewhat[1] novel: Meyer is offering final chapters (again, as opposed to Early Release’s often incomplete, buggy, or missing content) in inexpensive installments, with a discount on the final, complete book.  I’ve been a big fan of Eric Meyer since On CSS and More…, so was ecstatic to learn that The Definitive Guide would be receiving a much-needed update to its 2006 Third Edition.  That seems like an awfully long introduction for a 46 page book, but I intend to review each as it becomes available, so wanted to give an overview of the exciting approach being taken with publication before diving into reviewing the book (or, chapter!) itself.

As the title implies, Values, Units, and Colors enumerates the keywords, strings, numbers, and syntax associated with the manipulation of HTML elements via CSS.  What could have been little more than a crushingly boring list is made enjoyable by extensive supporting background information and history, as well as frequently goofy example values like and syrup.html.  Also appreciated are details of browser support for features being described, often indicating their significant lack thereof, thus dashing the reader’s hopes of implementing an exciting feature that was just described – which is of course not the fault of the author!  Another appreciated feature is the use of mostly greyscale examples when possible – allowing for easy viewing on E Ink displays – reverting to color only when absolutely necessary, such as in describing hue angles.  The book is not without mistakes, for example, describing the iPad’s Retina display as 3,264ppi (it is 264ppi), among other typos, as of the November 26th Second release, so hopefully the “final final” content will receive some corrections, but even in its existing form, Values, Units, and Colors is a superb overview of its namesake properties.  The book concludes with a Color Equivalence Table, detailing the RGB Decimal, RGB Percentage, HSL, Hex, and Short Hex (when applicable) derivations of all 147 keywords defined in the CSS Color Module Level 3.  I’m certainly looking forward to the next installment!


  1. ^ Alasdair Allan‘s iOS Sensor Programming series is similarly composed of previously-released books, though their publication is more spread out, and individual contents will be updated in their final conflation.

Product Details

Values, Units, and Colors: Foundational CSS3 Components
By Eric A. Meyer
Publisher: O’Reilly Media
Released: September 2012
Pages: 46
Print ISBN: 978-1-4493-4251-7
eBook ISBN: 978-1-4493-4250-0

2 Responses to Review: Values, Units, and Colors: Foundational CSS3 Components
  1. Eric A. Meyer Reply

    Thank you so much for the wonderful review! If you can submit the errors you found to O’Reilly, or just email them to me, I’ll get them corrected and make an updated version available for all e-book owners as soon as we can. Thanks!

    • ishotjr Reply

      Happy to! :) To be clear, they’re just typos – nothing that affects the quality of the content – in contrast to what I’ve sometimes encountered with Early Release publications – but, will do! :) Thank you for over a decade of inspiration, and for pursuing this unique approach w/ the 3E! :)

Leave a Reply to Eric A. Meyer Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Please enter your name, email and a comment.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>