Book review: HTML5 up and running, by Mark Pilgrim
Thanks to O’Reilly I got the chance to review the book ‘HTML5 up and running‘, by Mark Pilgrim. Please read below to get an idea on what to expect about this new title from O’Reilly ($34.99).
This is a practical and fun book, so keep your computer on all the times while you read it.
How is it organized:
- How did we get there?: History of some web standards, where they succeeded and where they failed because of being impractical. If you want to learn more about the history of software usability and common pitfalls then this is a must.
- Detecting HTML5 features: How to deal with different HTML5 compatibility levels (oh yeah, you thought the nightmares are over, think again!). Lots of boilerplate code, but still a foundation of things to come.
- What does it all mean?: Explains the structure of an HTML document, along changes that are mean to make it easier to maintain and create.
- Video on the web: Very detailed explanation of most popular formats, how they ‘embedded’ video magic works, how royalties licenses can break your pocket. Pay attention to the upcoming WebM format
- You are here (and so everybody else): Describes the Geolocation API. This is a tricky subject and the author shows how the different browser API complexity can be handled with third party libraries and also how to deal with important issues like permissions (the user doesn’t want to tell where it is), precision, timeouts and others. Code is simple enough to understand the basics and move forward.
- The past, present, and future of local storage for web applications: The author tries to explain the new local storage API, which is a great improvement over cookies. Quickly explains several important limitations (storage size, everything is saved as strings) and suggest how to use Google Gears instead, which is not a bad thing.
- Let’s take this offline: Caching website contents for offline use. Can improve the user experience a lot, but as the author says the developer work here is a tough one as debugging is very primitive. Offline mode requires careful thinking of what server side and client side settings to change, plus not all the browsers support this feature (like IE8). Google Gears comes to the rescue
- A form of madness: New form elements and how to use them so even users of old browsers can have a ‘degraded’ experience. You will be probably changing ALL your form pages after reading this chapter, very useful
- “Distributed”, “Extensibility”, and other fancy words: This is all about how to use ‘microdata’ to decorate existing HTML and embed extra information without breaking your documents. Very interesting indeed as this information can easily end up displayed on the search engine or consumed by other applications that interact with your web application.
Sometimes I felt than there were too many mentions of Open Source frameworks to do repetitive tasks, one has to wonder if HTML5 is mature enough or if you just rather use tools like Modernize and Google Gears and forget about the browser madness (there is still plenty). Also more complex programming examples feel missing, specially for the canvas chapter (still the code shown is simple and good to the point so you can say this is a minor fault).
Kodegeek stars: 4 of 5.