I'm working my way through Meyer's "CSS - The Definitive Guide", specifically Chapter 10 "Floating and Positioning". I was tracking pretty well through the first 9 chapters but by the time I got about half-way through chapter 10 my head was spinning with all the rules and contingencies and exceptions.
Question: How do people grok this stuff? Do they really fully assimilate all these rules before jumping in and designing/coding? Or do you use this book as more of reference for when you have a real world problem you're bumping up against? Is there another book/resource that's a better fit (I don't necessarily need a "Dummies" book, but maybe something that's more practical/pattern-based?)
Thanks in advance for any help or guidance.
The best way to learning CSS, like most things, is by doing it. I suggest you come up with some simple website, like a fan football site or something, and make it. Then make another site in a different style...continue this process until you begin to memorize CSS.
I also suggest looking at well designed websites and try to recreate what they made.
I've never read the book but Eric Meyer is a great source of CSS "mentoring."
"Trial and error" and experimentation is the best way to learn it. Analyze what others have done and figure out just why it works the way they have done it and go try it out.
You also might want to check out the http://960.gs if you haven't already.
I've spent the last 48 hrs "doing it" and indeed it is proving to be instructive. I also need to give a shout out to "Beginning CSS Web Development" by Simon Collison. It does an excellent job of covering the topic from a bit more practical perspective than the Meyer book (excellent though it still is) as well as give good tips for keeping your code organized.
In terms of actually "doing it", I found it helpful to start by trying to replicate simple sites. This article on A List Apart "CSS Positioning 101" has a number of simple layouts I found useful for dipping my toe in the CSS waters, ultimately working up to Example J. By only looking at the CSS/HTML after I'd taken my own crack at it I was better able to grasp the underlying concepts.
Thanks again for your help!