Author: Christopher Schmitt & Kyle Simpson
Pros: Introduction to HTML5 for the programmer
Cons: Recipes too simple, lacks explanation
Reviewed by: Ian Elliot
A cookbook on HTML5 sounds like a good idea, but you have to remember that HTML5 is a very simple technology - after all it's a semantic markup language with a few APIs added. So what recipes could there possibly be for tasty HTML5?
If this is a cookbook full of recipes for HTML5, then the majority of them are at the level of how to heat water and boil an egg. Mind you, I've known many a novice cook who didn't know where to get water from, let alone how to boil it.
The first recipe, Specifying DOCTYPE, should give you some idea of what I mean. As HTML5 has simplified this to the point of almost non-existence there isn't to much to say. From here we move on to specifying character sets, language, and eventually to using the new semantic tags. Chapter 1 isn't so much a cookbook, more a sort of introduction to basic HTML5 broken down into a question and answer format.
Chapter 2 continues the tutorial as cookbook style with a discussion of dealing with browsers that might not support it. From here it continues in the same fairly standard course, with one chapter on each of, forms, audio and video, microdata, accessibility, geolocation and the canvas tag. Chapter 10 is the most advanced and deals with the new APIs - local storage, caching, web workers, web sockets, history and local files. In most cases the questions are very basic - how to draw on the Canvas, how to get geolocation data, using date and time fields. These are all the sorts of things that you would discover how to do by reading almost any introduction to HTML5.
The big problem is that this is just an introductory tutorial on HTML5 broken down into contrived problems and then explained. If you like this way of explaining a technology then you will like this book. What it doesn't do is to provide any sort of recipe that goes beyond what is blindingly obvious if you understand the basics. Putting it in a cookbook format simply allows the authors the freedom not to provide a fully logical order and to not cover everything. A tutorial introduction comes with a promises to start at A and end at Z covering most things in between. This book simply picks interesting topics and forgets the rest.
Mostly the examples are small and reasonably well explained but there is a tendency, that gets worse as the book goes on to present large chunks of code spread over a couple of pages with little explanation.