Review: Introducing HTML5

HTML5 is creating more and more a name for itself in our industry, but while it excites those on the cutting edge of web technology, many are left feeling uncertain about it. Its ongoing development has been victim of politics, fragmentation and more, leaving few to have a good grasp of its current status. However, a lot of the technologies that make up HTML5 (and more) have become mature, even implemented across all the latest browsers—but did you know that? If you’ve kept an arms length to everything going on with HTML5, now is the time to dive into its waters and explore.

Fortunately, you don’t have to do it all by yourself: just get Introducing HTML5, written by Bruce Lawson (Opera) and Remy Sharp (Left Logic).

Exactly as its name implies, Introducing HTML5 is an introduction to all the new semantics and application-oriented technologies that make up the HTML5 spec. You don’t have to be a web development expert to read this, but you’ll come out closer to one when you’ve finished. All you need is a good grasp of web standards-based techniques, e.g. semantic markup; separation of structure, presentation and behavior; and accessibility. Bruce and Remy will teach you everything you need to know to bring your skill set to the next level.

Starting out light, Introducing HTML5 first teaches you the most important new HTML5 elements and their semantic purposes, which is especially helpful if, like me, you kept an eye on these since the early stages of HTML5, but got confused as their meanings were changed or redefined.

The book continues with the new HTML5 Forms, serving as a nice segue into the more JavaScript-reliant HTML5 Audio and Video, before it hunkers down on the real new technologies in HTML5, starting with Canvas and going all the way to the Messages, Web Workers and Web Sockets APIs.

Throughout the book, Bruce and Remy do a great job at not just introducing the new technologies, but informing you exactly of what does and doesn’t work in which browsers. Even the latest releases of browsers have some glaring bugs here and there, but where fixes are available, they are presented, and where not, workarounds explained. As a result, Introducing HTML5 is a tremendously practical book, going well beyond a surface-level introduction and straight-up teaching you how to wield these new technologies today.

One thing I am personally very happy about is how the book teaches you how to implement things in an accessible way (via ARIA or otherwise), making sure that visitors to your sites aren’t left out. HTML5 is exciting, but our excitement shouldn’t come at the cost of accessibility—and following Bruce and Remy’s advice, it won’t.

The compact but dense information in Introducing HTML5 means that in just an afternoon or two, you’ll find yourself brimming with new knowledge, excitement and ideas for making your websites or web applications richer, more exciting and more powerful. All in all, a highly recommended read.

And if you don’t mind kickbacks, buy it now on Amazon US or Amazon UK.

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