HTML5: The Missing Manual

Author: Matthew MacDonald
Publisher: O'Reilly, 2010
Pages: 448
ISBN: 978-1449302399
Aimed at: JavaScript programmers
Rating: 5
Pros: An easy, yet authoritative, read
Cons: Weak on CSS3
Reviewed by: Ian Elliot


HTML5 - there's no way to avoid it and no going back. Does this book help you embrace it?


HTML5 probably doesn't deserve all the fuss it is receiving - most of the glory should go to CSS and JavaScript. But there is still a need to find out about it and there is a lot misinformation to hamper your attempts. There is also the big problem of browser compatibility. This particular book aims to make it all much clearer and in the main it succeeds.




Part One "Meet the New Languages" goes over the history of HTML through XHTML and the problems that eventually resulted in HTML5. It explains the design philosophy and then takes you for a brief walk through creating a very simple HTML5 page. This is small scale stuff that has little overall impact on what you do, but it is still nice to see it at this early stage.

From here we move on to the central innovation of HTML5 - semantic markup. Chapters 2 and 3 explains how to use these "meaningful" tags to mark up a page. This is fairly straightforward and goes over ARIA, RDFs, Microformats and Microdata.

Part Two is about creating modern web pages. What this means is using the new functional tags in HTML5. Chapter 4 is on forms including validation, default values and so on. Chapter 5 is on audio and video and covers the complexities of what is and what is not supported and how to get round these difficulties. Next we have two chapters on the star of HTML5 - the Canvas element. This covers not only basic Canvas use, but also more advanced general topics such as animation and hit testing. You need to have a good understanding of JavaScript to get much from these chapters.

Chapter 8 is a lightening look as CSS3. This is probably the weakest chapter in the book as it simply doesn't do CSS3 justice - but then the book is on HTML5. Another book by this author on CSS3 would be a good idea, but my guess is that it wouldn't sell as well as something with HTML5 in the title.

Part Three has the mysterious title "Building Web Apps with Desktop Smarts". What this is all about, is the various APIs introduced along with HTML5 to extend the way that you can use JavaScript to write web apps that behave more like desktop apps. Chapter 9 is on data storage and it covers web storage. Chapter 10 is on offline applications. Chapter 11 is on messaging and web sockets. Chapter 12 wraps it all up with geolocation and web workers. All are much more advanced than the earlier chapters and you need to be able to program in JavaScript to get much from them.

The final section of the book consists of two appendices, an introduction to CSS and one to JavaScript. Neither are sufficient to get up to the standard that the book expects but they might act as refeshers.

Over all the style of the book is excellent. You feel as if you are reading a chat with a knowledgeable friend who isn't afraid to occasionally say something that is definitive and perhaps even controversial. A constant topic throughout the book is the matter of how and when to adopt HTML5 features and occasionally the author says, "Don't do it - yet".

This isn't a very deep book, simply because the technology it deals with isn't that complicated, but it doesn't fall into the trap of making it seem more complicated just to justify the existence of a book!

If I had to pick a single HTML5 book to read, this would be it. It is an easy read and it gives you a clear idea of what is and is not in the current HTML5 specification. Recommended.


Beginning Rust Programming

Author: Ric Messier
Publisher: Wiley
Date: March 2021
Pages: 416
ISBN: 978-1119712978
Print: 1119712971
Kindle: B08WZ2D7WC
Audience: Developers wanting to learn Rust
Rating: 3
Reviewer: Mike James
Everyone seems to want to know what makes Rust special. Does this book give the answers?

Classic Computer Science Problems in Python

Author: David Kopec
Publisher: Manning
Date: March 2019
Pages: 224
ISBN: 978-1617295980
Print: 1617295981
Kindle: ‎ ‎ B09782BT4Q
Level: Intermediate
Audience: Python developers
Category: Python
Rating: 4
Reviewer: Mike James
Classic algorithms in Python - the world's favourite language.

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Last Updated ( Friday, 16 September 2011 )