Author: Bruce Lawson & Remy Sharp
Publisher: New Riders, 2012
Reviewed by: Ian Elliot
If you still need a guide to the new ideas in HTML5 this book offers you a basic introduction.
This is the second edition of a book that was published just as HTML5 hype was starting to grow. Today we aren't exactly in a stable, settled state with regard to HTML5, but it is more of an every-day occurrence. You could say that some of the heat has gone out of the urgency to adopt it as a magic cure. At the moment the biggest problem is working out what is in the HTML5 spec and what isn't.
The book starts off with a look at the new tags and manages to convey the idea that the new tags are all about introducing semantics into your layout. No more is HTML a layout oriented markup system - it simply conveys meaning. For example, the <nav> tag indicates a chunk of HTML that provides page navigation e.g. a menu. What an item looks like is governed by the CSS. This is not a new principle but it is central to HTML5. Chapter 2 deals with the use of tags to work with text. The book does a good job in explaining the new tags, showing how to use them and discussing what to do for browsers that don't support them.
Chapter 3 moves on to issues of more interest to programmers - forms and how to use the new form tags and facilities. Chapter 4 covers video and audio and bemoans the fact that the situation with codecs is so messy as to require multiple encodings of any video file you want to serve. There is new material in the new edition and it goes into much more detail about exactly how to setup video playback.
Chapter 5 deals with Canvas and graphics in general and while it includes examples it hardly scratches the surface of a big topic. Chapter 6 is about data storage and the new facilities we have to store session and domain data. The book rounds off with a look at offline options, the not-so-good drag-and-drop API, the easy to use Geolocation facilities and messaging and web workers. Two new but very short chapters cover realtime - i.e. the comet server and the problem of making older browsers work with HTML - i.e. polyfills and Modernizr. Useful chapters but too short to be of much practical help.
The authors discuss the pros and cons of HTML5 and its APIs throughout the book in an informal style.The style is so informal and "jokey" that it might annoy some.
The big problem is who is this book for?
The first edition could claim to be satisfying a need to get to know what HTML5 is very quickly. Most of the people who need to know probably know by now - HTML5 is no longer so new or so hot. It is, however, still important for the future of the web and for web applications. This is an overview with fragments of slightly deeper technical detail thrown in.
If you really need something like this at this late stage, then you might find the book useful.