From the Preface:
This book is a catalog of the mistakes that I've made while building more than 100 Web sites in the last five years. I wrote it in the hopes that others won't have to repeat those mistakes.
In a society that increasingly rewards specialists and narrowness, Web publishing is one of the few fields left where the generalist is valuable. To make a great site, you need to know a little bit about writing, photography, publishing, Unix system administration, relational database management systems (RDBMS), user interface design, and computer programming. I have thus assumed no specific technical background among my readers and have tried to make the text self-contained.
For the manager
in charge of a Web publication or service, this book gives you the big picture. It is designed to help you to affirmatively make the high-level decisions that determine whether a site will be manageable or unmanageable, profitable or unprofitable, popular or unpopular, reliable or unreliable. I don't expect you to be down in the trenches typing Oracle SQL queries. But you'll learn enough from this book to decide whether in fact you need a database, whom to hire as the high database priest, and whom to allow anywhere near the database. You'll be able to have a conversation with a database expert. If you get bogged down in some of the tech chapters, I encourage you to skip to the end where I present a vision of the future informed by my 22 years at the same email address.
For the literate computer scientist
, I hope to expose the beautiful possibilities in Web service design. I want to inspire you to believe, as I do, that this is the most interesting and exciting area in which we can work.
For the instructors
who've been using my book as a course text, I've added "More" sections at the bottom of each chapter pointing to in-depth reference material.
For the student
, I've thrown in lots of my photos so that when the class is over, you'll have a nice coffee table book.
For the working Web designer
, I want to arm you with a new vocabulary and mental framework for building sites. There can be more to life than making a client's bad ideas flesh with PhotoShop and Perl/CGI.
:) "This book is the best that I have come across for designing database-backed websites. Unlike the numerous other books on the topic, this one doesn't dispense with advertising or commerical gimmicks. Dr. Greenspun is strikingly honest and speaks from personal experience -- he has designed and created over 200 database backed websites in his professional career."
:( "Greenspun abuses print the way the web novices he critiques use the web--utterly superfluous production values that add no value to the user but only heap on costs and hence price; utterly gratuitous graphics which prove that force me, the book buyer, to subsidize Greenspun's embarrassingly mediocre talent as a photographer, and utter inability to generate creative or useful graphic illustrations to help communicate the rich and bountiful insights that pour forth from his fertile mind."
:) "... this book is the perfect reference for teaching a class on website development, in a manner that gives students a broad perspective before they delve into the inevitable geek stuff: web application programming, data models, and SQL queries."