HTML5 Up and Running

I’m currently studying for the new Microsoft exam, 70-480: Programming in HTML5 with JavaScript and CSS3. I decided to pick up Mark Pilgrim’s book HTML5 Up and Running, by O’Reilly Press.

When I was a senior in college (with a double major in Art History and German, and a minor in Art), my brother gave me a book for Christmas: Sam’s “Teach Yourself HTML 4.0 in a Week”. I devoured it over Christmas break. After I graduated, I got a job at a compay (whose owner, sadly, was featured on the TV show American Greed, but that’s a story for another time) who placed me out at Amway while their e-commerce site was being built. My job out there was to take PhotoShop documents that had been created by their graphic designers and turn them into HTML.

That was back in 1999. Yes, HTML hasn’t really changed in over a decade. In technology years, that’s like a century of human years. It’s about time that HTML gets a face lift, and HTML5 is it. (Don’t ask me why it’s called HTML5 and not HTML 5, or HTML 5.0, but that’s what it’s called now.) Internet Explorer, who traditionally has bucked standards, has actually implemented quite a few features of HTML5 in Internet Explorer 9. And programming for the new Windows 8 operating system will involve HTML5 (In fact, a new MS exam is in development, titled “​Programming Windows 8 Metro Style Apps using HTML5”.) That is all to say, although it will probably take time for people to adopt HTML5-enabled browsers, HTML5 is on its way.

I liked this book because it provided a nice overview of just the new features in HTML5. It assumed that the reader already knows HTML 4. The book is only about 200 pages, so it’s not one of these 500 or 800 page giant books that you have to spend a month reading. I got through it in a week, reading a few chapters a day. The author takes quite a bit of time describing the evolution of features of HTML5 over time. Some people will find the history of the Web interesting, while others might want to skip over these sections of extensive background information as to “how we got where we are today”.

The book covers the following topics: canvas, canvas text, video, local storage, geolocatin, new form elements, offline browsing, and extensibility. HTML5 is pretty much inseparable from javascript, so the book did a good job of explaining how you can use javascript to take advantage of the new HTML5 tags and features.

The book is published by Google Press (as well as O’Reilly) and the author of the book is actually employed by Google. In light of that, the author spends quite a bit of time talking about special Google scripts and tools. I also get the idea that, like many designers, the author is more familiar (and happy with) Apple, Macs, and of course Chrome and Android technology than with Internet Explorer and Microsoft’s platform. I have to give it to the author, though; he was a lot more generous when talking about Internet Explorer than many folks are who are coming from that side of the fence. And to be fair, the book was published while IE9 was still in beta, so the author spent a lot of time saying, “This and that feature isn’t available in IE8 or before, but it might be in IE9.” In most cases, the features he talks about are available in IE9, and you as the reader might need to do what I did, and go to the Microsoft’s web site and check out the features of IE9 to confirm that.

I recommend this book as a nice, concise way to quickly learn the new features of HTML5.

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