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Books Book Reviews

Book Review: HTML5 Developer's Cookbook 42

stoolpigeon writes "HTML5 is the latest version of HTML. In fact, it is still under development — but HTML5 brings so many highly-desired capabilities that browsers have begun to implement it and many projects already take advantage of it. Often an HTML5 project employs more technology than just HTML, and the label has come to include the use of CSS3 and JavaScript as well. There are a number of resources out there to help one use HTML5 and recently I've been using the HTML5 Developer's Cookbook by Chuck Hudson and Tom Leadbetter." Read on for the rest of stoolpigeon's review.
HTML5 Developer's Cookbook
author Chuck Hudson, Tom Leadbetter
pages 480
publisher Addison-Wesley Professional
rating 9/10
reviewer stoolpigeon
ISBN 978-0-321-76938-1
summary HTML5 Developer's Cookbook
I like the cookbook format myself in situations like this. I'm already familiar with HTML but I want to learn about the new features that exist in HTML5. This means I'm not nearly as interested in explanations, especially in the basics, as I am in getting a big diff on the languages with lots of examples and only as much explanation as necessary. Though the trick for authors is to walk the fine line between too much explanation and not enough. If they get too wordy, it really isn't a cook book any more. Not enough explanation and it can become difficult to understand all the issues that come to bear with an example. This is especially true when dealing with something that is new and still in development.

HTM5 Developer's Cookbook walks this line well. Hudson and Leadbetter have organized the recipes into various categories and further labeled them with a level of difficulty. Recipes are marked as beginner, intermediate and advanced. I found the labels helpful because while I've mucked about with HTML and its corresponding tech, I felt more comfortable easing in on the beginner end first. If I were working with someone who was a true beginner to working with any kind of development, I would probably not start them off with a cook-book. I think that is especially the case here because so much of HTML is not covered. This is not an exhaustive resource on HTML but rather a set of explanations and examples on what is new or different in this latest version of HTML.

The book itself begins with a quick review of how we got to where we are, a bit of HTML history. The chapters follow this pattern, starting with some history where needed and an explanation of the new technology driving the examples that are to follow. Then there are the recipes themselves, followed up by any helpful information and a summary. There's more prose than I've seen in many other cook-books but in this case I didn't see it as a negative. The authors assume that readers are familiar with the old approach and they need to explain how the new approach is different. In some cases tags have changed meaning, this needs to be spelled out.

Hudson and Leadbetter deal with handling how various browsers support (or don't) the various aspects of HTML5 that they highlight. This is especially important as everything is still in flux. Though if past history is any indicator, even if the spec were completely nailed down, there would still be differences between browsers. This does bring up an important question though. This book has a definite shelf life. As HTML5 continues to develop there are many parts that may become inaccurate. This is true of most tech books, but doubly so in this case. If someone is looking for a timeless tome on the topic, this wouldn't be it. In my case, it's a timely resource to get up to speed quickly, from a single source that I trust. I can search the web and find a mixed bag or turn to this one spot to get quickly up to speed.

I had an electronic version of the book made available from the publisher for this review. I've found that format to be very helpful in this case. It keeps me from feeling at all guilty about buying a book with such a narrow window of usefulness. I also really enjoy being able to jump straight to recipes. There is a list of just the recipes at the end of the book that are linked directly to each that make this especially easy. I'm rapidly moving away from dead tree books, and I didn't feel any reason here to miss that format. (On a side note, I got the page count above from Amazon. I wonder what metric we'll be using to judge book size in the future? Word count?)

All of the chapter titles and recipes are available on line. From new structural elements to integrating with devices, there are plenty of practical and useful examples. I couldn't find a clear statement in the text of the book on readers being given the freedom to use the recipes directly in code. This surprised me so I checked with the publisher and they told me that all code is free to use. Maybe that is not necessary here because everything shown is just an example of following the specification, but given the current climate with regards to intellectual property I wanted to be sure.

I've rated the book 9 out of 10 due to the fact that I think the authors do a great job of not wasting my time but instead quickly deliver what I need. If you want to get a feel for what is up with HTML5 yourself, I recommend this as a great option. If you are interested in a more comprehensive review of HTML in general or how to create web pages, I would find something more suited to providing an introduction to web programming.

You can purchase HTML5 Developer's Cookbook from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.
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Book Review: HTML5 Developer's Cookbook

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  • by Kneo24 ( 688412 ) on Monday March 26, 2012 @04:47PM (#39478495)
    What sections of the book did you find the most useful in the book? Why were they the most useful for you?
    • I haven't employed all of it yet. From a practical stand point, the part I've actually used the most is the information in the first 2 chapters on new structural elements and some of the changes in marking up text. I am trying to think through what I want to do in order to make my projects as accessible as possible.

      The part I'm probably the most interested in right now though is the section on the geolocation api. I think there are a lot of potentially exciting things going on there. I'm hoping to c

  • The best part of the summary is that the first anchor isn't even a link, has no name, title, alt, or class attributes.

    Please tell me this is not what HTML5 will bring us going forward.

    • It is the new HTML5 psychic link automator that reads the mind of the original author. Your browser probably hasn't implemented it yet.

  • ... there is the undeniable reality of organizations tied to particular business models that simply cannot move away from flash on account of the lack of an equally secure mechanism to control what the viewer actually experiences.

    It's easy enough to say that these companies should just be left to rot, since they do not appear willing to evolve, but that attitude ignores the fact that the commodities that these companies offer might still be heavily in demand, even if their business model is not.

    And in

    • Instead of talking in abstact terms, why not name some companies which rely on flash and are indispensable? I haven't had flash installed for a year or two, and have very rarely come across a site which does not offer an alternative video format. All the mainstream players like BBC, YouTube, Vimeo etc have already moved and you can bet the others are already preparing to do so, given the number of ios devices. In the end attitudes will be changed by the reality of what customers/readers demand, not what is

  • No, it hasn't. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Monday March 26, 2012 @05:34PM (#39478853)

    "Often an HTML5 project employs more technology than just HTML, and the label has come to include the use of CSS3 and JavaScript as well."

    No, it hasn't. HTML5 is HTML5, CSS is CSS, and JavaScript is JavaScript.

    As a comparison, programming in Rails today includes knowledge of Ruby, JavaScript, CoffeeScript, CSS, and SCSS, and even more... yet nobody confuses any of those with Rails.

    Just as nobody I know has confused CSS or JavaScript with HTML5.

    • Re:No, it hasn't. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cmburns69 ( 169686 ) on Monday March 26, 2012 @06:12PM (#39479121) Homepage Journal

      That's being pedantic. Whenever I hear HTML5, I don't think of just a document marked up with the 5th major revision of HTML, I think of a DOM (defined using the 5th revision of HTML) and enriched by functionality provided by one or more turing complete languages (usually javascript), and with presentation dictated by style rules (defined using CSS).

      Does HTML5 mean to include CSS and javascript? Strictly speaking, no. But in practical usage, yes.

    • Most everyone I know associates "HTML5" to be the bundled package of pre-made functions/rendering engines from browsers that let you use do interesting things with CSS3, javascript, as well as the new markup language tags. This includes things like the "canvas". According to the doctype on HTML5 pages... the markup language is just called "html".
      • I think you missed the point though. The markup language is indeed called html. But CSS and JavaScript are not, strictly speaking, part of that markup language. Html consists of tags, and CSS and JavaScript are tools that DO THINGS to enhance and modify those tags... they are not part of those tags.

        In a similar vein, I can have a collection of numbers instead of tags, and load them into spreadsheet software to make them look pretty and perform functions on them... but to say the spreadsheet program is "p
    • ...or, "the label" refers to "an HTML5 project", instead of just "HTML5".

    • I want to live in your world. I don't like synecdoche or meronymy either. Unfortunately there are enough anecdotes against such precision in language from marketers and buzzword distributors that we're on the losing team. (Exhibit A: this book.)
  • Already... (Score:4, Funny)

    by sycodon ( 149926 ) on Monday March 26, 2012 @05:36PM (#39478877)

    ...some recruiter has called be wanting to know if I have at least three years "in depth" experience with HTML 5

    • Re:Already... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Desler ( 1608317 ) on Monday March 26, 2012 @05:40PM (#39478889)

      And? HTML5 has been in working draft for more than 3 years.

    • by mark-t ( 151149 )
      I've actually seen that sort of thing happen several times.

      I remember seeing a game programming job ad in 2010 asking for 5 years of iPhone programming experience.

      Before that. in 2005, there was an ad I saw asking for a senior Java programmer, with at least 15 years experience. Java was barely 10 years old at the time.

      And in 2001, just before I graduated, I saw an ad for a sysadmin position, where they wanted somebody with 10 years of experience with Linux (while technically possible, it was still a

  • Technically, HTML (Living Standard) is the latest version.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    HTML5 is another name for "quirks mode," a standards-agnostic (because standards-ignorant) approach to web design. What makes me say that? There is no doctype declaration for HTML5, hence no way for any browser to implement standards compliance.

    HTML5 exists, in its own way, as a cluster of proposed new HTML elements, vaporware specifications and proposed features. Presumably, when enough browsers support enough features of this non-Standard to make it worthwhile, a new version number of XHTML will be cre

    • Are you telling me God doesn't exist (no doctype on the bible, i think) and in reality we are merely experiencing the universe in "quirks mode"

Never worry about theory as long as the machinery does what it's supposed to do. -- R. A. Heinlein