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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Shared Understanding Resource: Head First HTML5

I am constantly talking about creating a "shared understanding" between design and engineering. And I love it when I find a book or resource that creates more bridges across these two worlds.

Eric Freeman & Elisabeth Robson have done the community a great favor with the addition of Head First HTML5 Programming. If you are a designer or product manager or backend engineer (though as the latter you will have to get past the less serious tone you may be accustomed to) then this book is for you.

As with all of the books in the Head First series they aren't meant for mid to advanced level developers. Where they shine is as a first introduction to a set of technologies. In this case they do an delightful job of introducing the HTML5 family of technologies.

The first thing to understand is what they mean by "HTML5". They aren't restricting the discussion to just HTML5 markup and the technologies that are strictly part of the current HTML5 spec. Instead they take a looser, more popular perspective on what HTML5 is. I actually like this approach. I like it because it is just too confusing to constantly explain to the public what is in and what is out of the spec at any given time. And I really need an easy way to talk about this collection of technologies. So using the term "HTML5" in this sense becomes more expressive. I don't even mind when CSS3 gets lumped into the bucket. I know call me a heretic.

Ok, back to the review...

The book ends up covering a lot more than I expected: markup (of course), JavaScript, DOM manipulation, geo-location (complete with a google maps/geo-location integration), AJAX, Canvas, Video,  web storage and web workers. There is also some discussion of CSS3 and styling and selection.

Overall, I really liked the examples and was pleasantly surprised at how real world they were. Another great touch was the Bullet Points section which summarized each chapter in a single page.

Its really hard to write a book for the complete newbie yet remain technically accurate. The authors have done this and more. Let the shared understanding grow. Highly recommended.

Full Disclosure: I received a free copy for review. However, if I didn't like it I wouldn't have bothered to write anything. The review above would have been the same even if I had bought it.