Book Review: Introducing HTML5

by jmorris 4. March 2011 22:54

As usual I have been reading a ton of books lately on various subjects from HTML5 to NHibernate to unit testing and other subjects as well. The plan is to write a series of reviews of each book over the next couple of weeks.


The first book I will write about is Introducing HTML5 by Bruce Lawson and Remy Sharp. If your not familiar with HTML5, it along with CSS3 are the latest and greatest in web standards and technology from the W3C. Too be honest, you have to use the term HTML lightly, with respect to HTML5…while it does add to the markup common associated with HTML and other SGML derivatives, it also offers a whole slew of technologies that are decidedly outside the scope of markup: graphics, client side messaging, geo-location and others.

I’ll keep this book review short and sweet, like the book at barely 200 pages…as the title states, it is an introduction to HTML5 and gives a summary of the various technologies that it comprises. It’s not a reference manual nor a deep explanation of the subject; it’s a brief description of each technology with simple, real world examples of their usage. In my opinion it’s worth is in that a few hundred pages you get enough understanding of each technology, not enough to walk the walk, but definitely enough to hold a conversation on one of the topics. If you are already past this stage, it probably would not appeal to you; it simply doesn’t offer he enough detail.

Additionally, one thing that it does do is give small nuggets of information regarding work-rounds for various browsers that only partially support HTML5 or have bugs in their implementation. In fact, the authors are not shy about discussing some of the limitations of the support for HTML5 across the common, modern browsers. Of course, this is somewhat awry from some of the HTMl5/CSS3 “fanboys” out their that try to pawn HTML5 as the next coming…the truth is that only portions of HTML5 are completely supported by all browsers and knowing the work-rounds (html5shivselectivizr, modernizr, etc) the key to using it now.

Who is the book for? Pretty much anybody with a cursory understanding of HTML, browsers, how the web works and maybe some experience with JavaScript or another programming language. Much of it is suitable for managers as well.


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Thoughts About HTML5

by jmorris 24. August 2010 14:15

A colleague sent me a link to an HTML5 slide show and I must say that if and when the standard is completed it will offer an amazing cornucopia of web technologies in a single package.  It’s interesting that it’s even called “HTML” at all; it’s really the combination of markup (HTML), presentation and formatting (CSS) and behavior (Javascript API’s) that comprise HTML5. It also strikes me that HTML 4.01 (notice the space between the “L” and the “4”? HTML5 interestingly enough, has no space) was Recommended  by W3C in 1999 and HTML5 specification was started in 2004 and still has not been completed! That aside, with the recent exclusion of flash from Apple IPhone and IPad, interest and demand have taken off for HTML5.

Javascript API’s

HMTL5 offers several new JavaScript API’s that allow developers to do things that were not easily possible on  the browser before: Web Sockets for client server interaction via TCP, Web Storage for storing data on the client browser, a Web SQL Database (yes a local database that is accessed via Javascript directly, so much for SOC!), an Application Cache, Web Workers to provide asynchrony with a language (JS) that does not support multithreading,  a Notification API for broadcasting messages to the client, and a GeoLocation API so that your location can always be known! Additionally there is a new Selectors API and JS Drag and Drop API.

From the offerings above, I can see HTML5 being the killer app for a number of existing web technologies: javascript libraries such as JQuery and Scriptaculus, FLASH/FLEX/AIR/Silverlight as well as methodologies such as Ajax and even proprietary offerings such as LightStreamer.


HTML5 also extends the extends the existing HTML 4.01 tags with new tags for the semantic web, link relations, Microdata, ARIA attributes (for disability accessibility),  form field types (range, input validation, etc), audio and video (Apple’s big beef), and Canvas for 2D and 3D SVG/WebGL graphics.


The new CSS extensions include typography enhancements, visuals (columns, textwrapping, rounded corners, etc.) and transitions, animations and transformations (dynamically manipulating DOM elements kinda like some of the JQuery UI features).


All in all this is an amazing and revolutionary toolkit for developing Web applications and will likely lead the way in what and how we develop in the future. A couple of the features (namely Web SQL and Web Sockets) make ne cringe slightly, in that we know that they will be abused, however the potential here is enormous. it’s also interesting to note, that none of the new features are truly revolutionary by themselves, it’s the standardization which is revolutionary. 


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Jeff Morris

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