When Packt approached me to review Learning Zurb Foundation I knew that I was in for an interesting read.
Despite the introductory title, though, you need to know quite a bit of stuff in order to appreciate the book. If talking about CSS grids, differences between an ‘em’ and a ‘rem’ and Sass mixins all sound like unintelligible mumbo-jumbo I strongly recommend you to read some detailed texts on those subjects before approaching this book. “Learning Zurb Foundation” won’t teach you how to become a web developer, but will teach an (even moderately) experienced one how to become faster and better at his job by leveraging a wonderful framework and community that only Zurb can offer.
Right from the beginning we catch a glimpse of the author’s general work-flow.
The first few chapters, in fact, talk about how in-browser prototyping often proves to be much better than Photoshop comps that might be hard to realize in practice. It also has the positive side benefit to let you know immediately whether your sketches are going to work in, ehrm, troublesome browsers like IE 8. The author also goes on pointing readers to a template contract for those freelancers who are not using one already (in spite of what Mike Monteiro taught us).
Next is an introduction to Foundation’s grid system followed by a huge laundry list of what the framework has to offer and how to use it with plenty of example code to look at.
Last chapters introduce readers to what an amazing combo Foundation and Sass can be, and how you can use the latter to easily and quickly customize the former to suit your needs. The author barely scratches the surface of what’s possible to do but he shows how easy it is to come up with a prototype in few hours.
I also appreciated how, in the very last chapter, the author tells readers to leave Photoshop prototypes behind in favor of doing in-browser prototyping. He also stressed how important it is for designers to communicate frequently with the rest of the team, especially developers. In my experience it helps designers stay with their feet on the ground and avoid “impossible” designs that have to be thrown away because they are unfamiliar with the medium (I found fonts and assets licensing to be definitely a pain point).
There are some omissions here and there such as not mentioning the most widely used Sass mixin library (Compass), or the fact that Interchange will be replaced by the picture HTML5 element which is slated to be implemented in all major browser between the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015.
The book is short but dense with information and experienced developers will find it an easy read. Content covered by chapters on Foundation’s grid and components can admittedly be found on Zurb’s website and feel a little redundant in today’s age of ubiquitous Internet connections and search engines, but when combined with other chapters you get a nice text which serves adequately as an introduction to Zurb Foundation.