HTML5 Books
Written by Sue Gee   
Monday, 26 November 2012
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There has been a flood of HTML5 books ever since it was first announced. We have trawled through the reviews on Programmer reviews to find the top-rated recommendations for beginners and experts.

When it comes to books, I Programmer's mission is to provide unbiased reviews that you can trust - and they are written by those who use and understand the technologies concerned. Although we can only cover a fraction of the new programming books published, we try to include those that seem important and topical and this means we end up reading some that are dull and boring and even find some that are capable of  misleading and confusing the reader.

 

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For Programmer's Bookshelf, however, we pick only the best and recommend the books you might find helpful at different stages in your personal development.

If you want to read more of the original review click in the link in each title. Clicking on the book jacket in the side panel will take you to Amazon. If you just want to find out more about the book click in the top portion of the thumbnail to open the book's product details page. If you do decide to make a book purchase accessing Amazon from a link on I Programmer means that we are credited with a few cents - so thanks to all of you who support us in this way.

HTML5 - From New to Mature?

One of the problems with HTML5 books is that they started to appear when the technology was very unformed. Books were available  while HTML5 was at the preview stage and they tended to be very unsatisfactory.

 

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While the quality of the books has improved as HTML5 is an evolving technology it is still a moving target. Moreover, it's not even a single standard. Back in July 2012 we reported on the split between WHATWG and WC3 which gives the potential divergence between the "living standard" of the former that never settles down and is always being added to and refined, and the "official" standard of the latter which is still work in progress. At that time, having a specification for HTML5 seemed a long way off but not long afterwards WC3 announced plans to have a recommended standard for HTML 5.0 by the end of 2014.

The first specifically HTML5 book we reviewed was Introducing HTML5 (New Riders, 2010) by Bruce Lawson and Remy Sharp. Aimed at early adopters this title seemed at the time to be:

A good, straightforward but not deep introduction to HTML5.

Recommended if you want an overview with opinions, history and reasons why.

and was awarded four stars. However, when the second edition of the same book came out the fact that, even though new material was included, a lot of detail is missing meant that the rating went down to 3:

The book is still useful to those who need an overview to HTML5 - but bear in mind it is only suitable for programmers who already know HTML, CSS and JavaScript and they probably want more in-depth coverage than this title provides.

An alternative title that provides a useful overview for the same audience, i.e. intermediate web developers, is HTML5 Mastery (Friends of Ed, 2011) by  Anselm Bradford and Paul Haine
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It is a well written explanation of the basic HTML5 technology. It doesn't spoon-feed the reader and it has lots of side comments that help illuminate the actual situation. However, HTML5 is not rocket science. It is just HTML plus some new tweaks. The book isn't big enough to cover everything you need to know about HTML and it really is only an "upgrade" path to HTML5, which limits what it has to say quite a lot.

Giving it a rating of 4, Ian Elliot concluded that although it isn't an in-depth look at HTML5:

If you already know about HTML and how to construct a web page but need a intelligent direct and mostly straight-talking explanation of what is new in HTML5, then you might find this book a good choice.

HTML5 for Web Development

A book that improved its rating between its first edition in 2010  and second edition in 2011 is Pro HTML5 Programming (Apress) by Peter Lubbers, Brian Albers & Frank Salim. One reason for the improved impression was that first time around it seemed a bit too soon to  for an in-depth look at HTML5. However the rating of 4, which equates to Good has to be considered as "relatively good" against a background of predominantly poor titles. The overall conclusion  that while this goes further than a beginner's guides it doesn't really a merit the "Pro" in its title. 

For  those who already program in JavaScript another 4-star book  HTML5 Developer's Cookbook (Addison-Wesley) by Chuck Hudson & Tom Leadbetter is well worth considering if you like learning from examples. The book has its disadvantages; the layout of the book isn't easy on the eye with small text that makes the, sometimes long, listings more difficult to read but the conclusion was:

 Overall, it is a reasonably successful explanation of HTML5 and if you like a practical approach it is a good choice.

 

Another book that takes a cookbook approach is HTML5 Solutions (Friends of Ed, 2011) by Peter Elst, Charles Brown & Nathalie Wormser. This book was only given a rating of 3.5 for the reason that it is hampered by a very formulaic approach means that it is a book of two halves- a very simple set of introductory chapters using nothing much more than markup and a second half where we get some JavaScript. This makes it unsuitable for the complete beginner and also for the expert. The ideal reader is someone who programs JavaScript and wants to know about new HMTL5 features.


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