Thursday, December 2, 2010

HTML5: Up and Running by Mark Pilgrim - A Book Review.

For quite some time, I have felt that good programmers can be good storytellers; this book confirms my belief. The conversational style of presentation is particularly appealing.

This is an excellent introductory HTML5 book for someone who has prior knowledge of HTML, CSS, DOM & JavaScript. This is a book that is useful even to experienced web programmers who may think that they already know what the book is going to say; a good author can tie together various nuances into beautiful prose.

Chapter 2 on Detecting HTML5 Features is a typical example of how a good programmer can be a good storyteller. It introduces the Modernizr, an open source MIT-licensed JavaScript library, in a very easy way. The reader is led slowly, but inexorably, to the conclusions the author wishes to establish regarding how to ensure proper web programming in the context of HTML5.

Chapter 3 provides a very nice introduction to the semantic elements of HTML5 by evolving a HTML4 document, also a syntactically valid HTML5 document, into a more desirable HTML5 document, making use of new semantic elements.

Chapter 5 is a rather thorough explanation of the semantics of the <audio> and <video> elements. There is ample detail about containers and tracks — of audio and video packaging — that it completely demystifies the handling of audio and video in HTML5.

Other chapters delve into various other aspects of HTML5, and this is a book you want to have so that you can refer to it whenever you want to recall the thought behind a certain HTML5 feature.

There is humor in the book too. e.g., on p. 147,
"Everybody knows about web forms, right? ... You don't know the half of it ... HTML5 defines a dozen new input types ... I don't mean to say that all of these exciting features are actually supported in every browser ... In modern browsers, yes ... In legacy browsers ... all of these features degrade gracefully in every browser. Even IE 6."
The italics are mine, for emphasis.

The online version of the book is made available free under a Creative Commons License.

There are many other reviews of the book on the web, and I found this one by Ben Nadel particularly enjoyable to read.

This is definitely a book for your bookshelf, physical or virtual.

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