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Webmaster in a Nutshell, Third Edition

Webmaster in a Nutshell, Third Edition
Author: Stephen Spainhour - Robert Eckstein
ISBN 13: 9780596003579
ISBN 10: 596003579
Edition: 3rd
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Publication Date: 2002-12-01
Format: Paperback
Pages: 520
List Price: $39.99

WebMaster in a Nutshell takes all the essential reference information for the Web and pulls it together into one slim volume. This book is a quick reference for anyone who works on the Web - content providers, programmers, and administrators alike. WebMaster in a Nutshell covers HTML 3.2, the markup language for Web documents; CGI, for creating interactive content on the Web; JavaScript, a scripting language that can be embedded directly into HTML to make interactive Web page; HTML extensions from Netscape Navigator 3.0 and Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.0; examples and descriptions of the HTML tags for creating frames, tables, and fill-in forms; HTTP 1.1, the underlying protocol that drives the Web; configuration for the Apache, NCSA, CERN, Netscape, and Website servers; Perl 5, the programming language used most often for CGI; WinCGI, the CGI interface for Windows-based programming languages; Cookies, for maintaining state between multiple HTTP transactions; and Server Side Includes, for embedding dynamic data into Web pages. WebMaster in a Nutshell breaks up these topics into concise, distinct chapters, designed to make it easy to find the information you want at a moment's notice.

Ray Duncan

Better the Nutshell than the Nuthouse

Back when the Earth was young, "PC" meant "personal computer" rather than "IBM compatible," and the World-Wide-Web was only a gleam in Tim Berners-Lee's eye, O'Reilly built its reputation by recruiting UNIX wizards and gurus to write thoughtful, carefully edited, highly structured "Nutshell" handbooks on complex, esoteric topics such as COFF, DNS, BIND, and sendmail. WebMaster in a Nutshell marks a return to those roots, but arrives in a less civilized age, when the pace of change is frantic, and the competition for shelf space and mind-share intense.

WebMaster in a Nutshell consists of 26 chapters divided into five sections: HTML, CGI, HTTP, JavaScript, and Server Configuration. Much of the material is based on, or adapted from, other Web-related O'Reilly books such as Musciano and Kennedy's HTML: The Definitive Guide, Flanagan's JavaScript: The Definitive Guide, and Gundavaram's CGI Programming on the World Wide Web. As with other O'Reilly handbooks, there's wildlife on the cover, but this time it's an spider instead of some obscure vertebrate, and a rather nasty-looking rascal at that.

The HTML section is the most valuable, covering all of the currently-used tags -- along with browser dependencies, tables of character entities, and reserved color names -- clearly and concisely. The CGI section is something of a mish-mosh of HTML form tags, CGI environment variables, server-side includes, and PERL operators and functions. PERL probably should have been given its own section and the material considerably fleshed out. The usefulness of the JavaScript section is, like JavaScript itself, unclear at this point.

I suppose the relevance of the remaining two sections depends largely on what O'Reilly sees as the audience for this book. Certainly most people who call themselves WebMasters these days would have little occasion to turn to the HTTP and Server Management sections; routine operation of a commercial Web server rarely brings one into intimate contact with HTTP protocol issues, and the Server Management discussion is limited to UNIX HTTP daemons and O'Reilly's WebSite product for Windows NT and Windows-95.

After putting WebMaster in a Nutshell to the test in my own work environment over the last couple of months, my impression is that the authors tried to cover too much ground. The overall concept is reasonable, and the book is definitely useful in its present form, but I hope that O'Reilly will rethink the contents and audience carefully before releasing the next edition.--Dr. Dobb's Electronic Review of Computer Books