Book Review: Getting Started with Zurb Foundation 4 by Andrew D. Patterson

  •  Sun 23 February 2014
  •  Category: Zurb Foundation
  • I was really looking forward to reviewing this book as I'm a big fan of Zurb Foundation as I think that it is by far the best responsive framework out there. Indeed, at work here at ChrisDev, we use Foundation for all our web based projects.

    The book is supposed to aimed at web architects, designers, and builders who were already familiar with the basics principles of responsive design and is divided up into four chapters. I found that Chapter 1: Getting The Most from the Grid System was the most useful of the lot. The author discussed in some detail his approach to dealing with a number of practical layout issues including: nesting rows in columns; understanding and customizing column gutters; maintaining row and page width; mobile first design (or what the author calls designing from small to to large); rearranging columns and so on. While I found that this chapter hit all the basics I felt more emphasis should have been placed on the implications of mobile first design as this has always been Foundation's big selling point over rivals such as Twitter BootStrap. Also, it was strange that there was no mention of some of the great resources provided by Zurb such as the Foundation 4 Templates which provide a number of canned layouts for various kinds of sites (blogs, marketing product page etc.) that can be a great starting point for customizing layout.

    I was a little disappointed in the next two chapters which covered the CSS and JavaScript components provided with Foundation. These seemed a little cursory and there was little that went beyond the online documentation. Of course Foundation comes with more than twenty CSS components about twelve JavaScript Plugins so it would have been unrealistic to expect a comprehensive treatment of all these components, but maybe the author could have singled out the more popular component such as Orbit for more comprehensive treatment.

    The final chapter covered Sass. I felt that there was a lot of good material here and readers unfamiliar with Sass would find it quite enlightening. I particularly liked the sections entitled Customizing with Variables and Understanding functions and mixins. However, I felt that more emphasis should have been placed on this topic given that Sass has become the most efficient way to customize and style layout, components and plugins. I would have preferred if Sass could have been introduced very early on (probably as Chapter 2) and the subsequent chapters covering CSS and JavaScript components each contain a section on how to customize one or more of the components or plugins with Sass.

    Overall, I would have to give this book a 3 out of 5 stars since it covers the basics and provides a good supplement for the online documentation. However, I feel that for more experienced designers, architects and builders the book will prove to be a bit of a disappointment. Aside from Chapter 1, it provides little in the way of a practical approach or even some guidelines for building real world responsive sites with Foundation. This is important in the context of a rapidly evolving framework like Zurb Foundation, where we are we are reviewing a book about version 4 while Foundation 5 has been out since November 21, 2013.


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