Back to the Web - Book Review 1 of n: Introducing HTML 5 (second edition)

Last week I was having a discussion with a coworker during which I said some rude things about the frustrations of Making Beautiful Things in the web. I was rightfully chastised for probably not putting a concerted effort into understanding css under the hood. At least never to the depth of mastery. Did I mention most of my hateful remarks were made in the general direction of CSS? Come on, like you’ve never?

I thought on it a bit later and figured he was right. I’ve spent the last couple years with my nose in XAML and feeling pretty good about it. Perhaps it is time to put some more focus back on the real web side of things. It so happened this weekend I had the rare opportunity to play bachelor for one and a half days, so I decided to be constructive and put that time toward reading a few tech books. I thought I’d share my general opinions.

But before I dug into CSS I thought I’d warm up and make sure I had a firm grasp on what’s new in the realm of HTML5. So I chose Introducing HTML 5 by Bruce Lawson and Remy Sharp. When I picked this up I was hoping for a relatively quick read, something to get a distilled overview of what’s cooking in the HTML landscape of late. Turns out this book read exactly like I had hoped. Man, that almost never happens! The writing style is, front to back, concise and clear. They got to the point, gave some good descriptions, and moved on before I could get bored.

It starts out with a good overview of new tags, general structure of html5 documents, why the spec has been created and how to go piecing together all these new elements in a way that jives with the spec. After the first couple chapters I really felt like I had a good feeling for the direction and reasoning behind html5.

The rest of the chapters were each focused on a specific technology. I won’t go into any gory details, but here’s a quick list:

  • Forms and form validation
  • Video and audio
  • Canvas and drawing
  • Data storage, including Web Storage, Web SQL Database and IndexDB
  • Offline applications
  • Drag and drop
  • Geo-location
  • Web sockets
  • Polyfills

There’s not necessarily ton there that you can’t grok from doing a little googling about each topic, but again, it was nice to have it all neatly organized and made for a good fast read. There’s just enough in each chapter to get you familiarized with all the bits and get you started working with them. I think the Authors did a great job, and I’d very much recommend it as a solid intro read.

As for CSS, well, that review is coming…

But before I go, they mentioned a few good resources in the book that are worth sharing. Here are a couple of note:

  • - The authors (and a few others) have a website dedicated to helping developers understand the ins and outs of HTML5
  • - What tags/styles/etc… are supported in what browsers