Book Review — Head First HTML5 Progamming

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Posted by Andrew | Posted in book reviews, HTML5, JavaScript, o'reilly, programming | Posted on 25-09-2013

Head First HTML5 Programming 
Eric Freeman and Elisabeth Robson 
O’Reilly

O’Reilly Publishing provided me access to an electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

When I’m looking for a book to help me learn more about a specific programming language, the first place I look is O’Reilly.  And no, I don’t say that because they give me free copies of the books (which I do like).  Instead I look for them because they have series, like the Head First series, that are written for anyone to learn from.  You don’t have to be a master computer programmer to pick up the book and understand how a topic, like HTML5 programming, works.  And that’s one of the great things about the Head First series, is that it’s easy to understand, easy to follow, and lively illustrations make it fun to learn how a new concept works.

This particular book helps walk the reader through some of the new concepts of HTML5 and how it works with JavaScript to provide a more robust and powerful programming language.  Such examples include using the canvas, which allows a user/programmer to create images on the fly, such as repeating circles in a random pattern on a background (the example from the book actually.)  Or utilizing the geolocation API to help figure out data on your users…probably not the best topic to broach with these days, but still could be useful.  This book is not meant to be a complete reference on HTML5 or JavaScript, but a guide to getting started with using the concepts together.

Where this book excels is providing an easy to understand concept of utilizing the new features of HTML5 in conjunction with JavaScript.  The other highlight of the Head First series (and this book is no exception) is that it’s written in a clear easy to understand language, it’s written for the novice programmer–one that’s still learning how programming works and for someone that’s looking for an overview of the language.  In this book the authors give you a specific situation to walk through, such as a client that wants to be able to print customized tshirts, and gives you some exercises to walk through to begin understanding the processes that are needed.  Then, at the end of the chapter, they give you the answers and further explanation if one is needed.  By having a somewhat silly concept, I find that it often helps engage my brain into beginning to think about the specific code that I’ll need.  In addition, they also add in other learning concepts, such as using crossword puzzles or mazes.

The caveat of this book is that like every “Head First” title the illustrations won’t work for everyone.  I find it helps if you’re coming from a nontraditional background or from a more creative bent (left brain.) And even then sometimes the images and graphics can be overwhelming, which is a problem that I find sometimes in this book.  I found that the images, while helpful in the beginning, often start to become overwhelming as you get more and more into the problem being solved and make it a bit difficult at times to concentrate on following the step by step instructions.

Overall though this was an enjoyable book and one that I’ll keep around to help me better understand some of the concepts of HTML5, and even begin working with them to redesign my own webpage.  Even though it’s 600 pages long, it’s an easy read and helps build a good understanding of HTML5 programming.  I give the book 4 out 5 stars.

I review for the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program

Book Review–HTML5: The Missing Manual

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Posted by Andrew | Posted in book reviews, CSS3, HTML5, o'reilly, programming | Posted on 04-10-2011

A basic introduction to HTML5

HTML5:  The Missing Manual
Matthew MacDonald
O’Reilly

O’Reilly Publishing provided me access to an electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

When I start looking at books on programming languages, such as HTML5, I look for a few different things.  1) Easy to read and understand language
2) Clear cut, easy to follow (and correct) examples of code
3) Good additional resources to look at
4) Layout and organization of chapters and subtopics flows well
5) And depending upon the language, an in-depth look at how it works.
While this book doesn’t offer an in-depth look at every aspect of HTML5 (it is meant for beginners) it does meet the first three criteria that I look for and mostly meets the clear organizational path.

This book doesn’t give an in-depth look at HTML5 because what Matthew is trying to do is provide a basic introduction to the various tools and components of HTML5 and how you might be able to use them in your day-to-day work.  And this is where the book excels.  Matthew breaks down the book into three broad themes (meet the new language, creating modern webpages, building web apps with desktop smarts) and further broken down into 12 chapters on each of these broader themes.  Plus he includes a great 4th section with appendices and other additional resources and real world examples of code in use.

In the first section Matthew does a great job of explaining how HTML5 came into being versus the continuation of XHTML and how W3C works to approve code.  This is important to understand in the context of this book as not every standard developed by the committee or shown in this book works with every browser at this time (there is at least one that only works with one browser thus far.)  Matthew does a good job of letting the reader know which standard will work with which browsers and when, if ever, the standard might be widely adapted.  He also does a good job of breaking down the various standards that have the most real world use in building webpages, such as the discussion on semantic tags in Chapter 2.  Matthew provides clear cut examples of code and explains how you might be able to use them.

I review for the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program