HTML5 for Web Designers Book Review and Giveaway

Posted: August 02, 2010 Comments(51)

There are lots of new and exciting things that get talked about each and every day in Web design. That’s one of the most gravitational aspects of the industry, without a doubt. By far, if I had to pick one thing out for 2010 it’d have to be HTML5.

HTML5 for Web Designers book

We’re hearing more about HTML5 as each week goes on, and it’s not without reason. If HTML5 isn’t something you’ve determined as important enough to deserve your attention, that’s problematic. HTML5 is way more than <audio> and <video> and it’s so much more than saying ‘Flash stinks.’

The number of blog posts, articles, and other writings surrounding HTML5 must far outnumber those on any other single Web design-centered subject so far this year, and I’m happy to say that most are very informative and forward thinking. There is still the issue, though, of some designers not truly understanding what we should expect as HTML5 becomes increasingly prevalent.

HTML5 for Web Designers

Enter HTML5 for Web Designers, the first A Book Apart written by Jeremy Keith. As summarized by A Book Apart:

The HTML5 spec is 900 pages and hard to read. HTML5 for Web Designers is 85 pages and fun to read. Easy choice.

HTML5 is the longest HTML specification ever written. It is also the most powerful, and in some ways, the most confusing. What do accessible, content-focused standards-based web designers and front-end developers need to know? And how can we harness the power of HTML5 in today’s browsers?

In this brilliant and entertaining user’s guide, Jeremy Keith cuts to the chase, with crisp, clear, practical examples, and his patented twinkle and charm.

I can confirm that the HTML5 spec is quite long and arduous to take on in an reasonable amount of time if you’re expecting to learn the big picture surrounding HTML5 and how it will affect you and your work. HTML5 for Web Designers is a supreme alternative if I may say so myself.

What you’ll learn

In all honesty, HTML5 for Web Designers is a fantastically comprehensive introduction to HTML5, and it keeps everything to 85 pages. If you’ve read about HTML5 here and there and you can’t stop hearing other people talk about it, HTML5 for Web Designers will get you into those conversations.

This is not a technical book by any stretch of the word. I say that as someone who has been working with HTML for a number of years and knows the basics; it’s a markup language, certain elements are meant for certain things, and elements have attributes that change various characteristics about said elements.

This book is not for someone learning HTML, it’s for someone who currently writes either HTML or (X)HTML by choice and has an opinion for doing so. It’s aimed for professionals looking to educate themselves on the next version of the most important markup language in the world.

What you won’t learn

Continuing on the basis that this is not a technical book, you’re not going to hear mention of the really geeky stuff surrounding HTML5. Web Workers, WebSockets, Web SQL and Storage, and geolocation (to name a few) are nowhere to be seen, but it’s not without reason:

The JavaScript APIs in HTML5 are very powerful. They are also completely over my head. I’ll leave it to developers smarter than me to write about them. The APIs deserve their own separate book.

Truth be told, there are a number of misconceptions surrounding a number of those technologies, some of which have absolutely nothing to do with the HTML5 spec in the least. I’m super glad Jeremy took this approach. That decision alone made HTML5 for Web Designers the top notch book to overview and introduce someone to HTML5 without becoming overbearing.

Overall impression

I honestly loved the book. It’s small enough (85 pages) that you can read it in a sitting or two and it’s written in such a style that doesn’t come close to that of a lethargic textbook. If you’ve had the opportunity to read any of Jeremy’s other books (DOM Scripting, Bulletproof Ajax) this definitely follows suit, but with a bit more personality. Definitely a bonus.

I liked that the book went into more detail than the spec alone. It talked about actual application as well. There were bits and pieces about how we’ll be able to style these new elements which is super important. There was also some advice given regarding certain element attributes surrounding best practices which will steer readers in the right direction from the get-go.

Additionally, Jeremy devoted just enough time to the history of HTML5, how it came to be, and even touched on the politics surrounding its development. These facts are important to know if you’re looking to truly harness and refine your knowledge.

You’re going to learn a ton from this book, and I definitely recommend picking it up if your job title is Web Designer, Web Developer, Front End Developer, or anything else that has you writing HTML at any point in time.

Giveaway details

It’s that time again. Giveaway time. I last caught wind that the book was sold out currently, so I’m hoping to send the book to someone who didn’t get an order in before there were none left. Rules for entry are again quite simple:

  • You must live in the continental US (or be willing to pay shipping otherwise)
  • You can enter by leaving a comment below explaining what you’re most excited about when it comes to HTML5
  • You can enter a second time via Twitter if you’d like by tweeting the following:

    Looking to get a free copy of HTML5 for Web Designers from @jchristopher! /x/23 #MBNhtml5

Entries via Twitter are not required but a comment here is. An entry via Twitter is just doubling your chances. Entries will be open and accepted until August 9, 2010 at 11:59am EDT. Good luck!

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  1. We should never stop learning and HTML5 is the future. That sounds cheesy, I know.

    I really want this book because it’s a lean 85 pages and seems easy to digest (which will come in handy since I’ll likely read this book several times).

  2. One thing that I’m very excited to learn more about is local storage. Local storage will allow us to build full-blown applications that can interact with client-side data. I’m especially interested in local storage for mobile where users may be in an area without data coverage.

  3. I agree with Jonathan’s vision. I’m not ‘completely done’ reading it, but built a demo page on local server to test the examples in reality while reading along.
    There are things like the support for media (audio, video) that make things A LOT easier than it used to be..
    Very cheap, thin and to the point. Definitely worth buying (or applying for the free giveaway here 😉 )

  4. Frankly, it may not be sexy, but the thing that excites me the most about HTML5 are the “section” elements (, , , etc…). I always find that the most frustrating part of hand-coding is trying to scan the code for the elements as opposed to the elements. This will definitely make code cleaner.

  5. What excites me most about HTML5 is that it continues to push the web as a platform. (Being a flash killer is simply a side benefit.) Looks like a great book and I really like that it’s a compact 85 pages.

  6. I am most excited about the new form elements. It will be nice to be able to use the browser’s built-in datepicker rather than try to write one myself in JavaScript or hunt down a half-decent one and try to implement it.

  7. I’m just excited for the clean(er) code since everyone’s just crazy about divs and more divs! Oh, and the form elements.

  8. It’s certainly nice not to hear the fans (read “jet engines”) kick up every time I want to watch a YouTube video, so I’m glad more sites are embracing the audio and video elements.

    But, I’m most looking forward to all the things that help clean up my code: simple doctype, simple meta charset, and structural elements like nav and section that are easy to target with CSS, and form elements and placeholders that eliminate the need for JavaScript to accomplish something so seemingly simple.

    And, of course, seeing what these creative minds can churn out with canvas.

  9. Nice review of HTML5 for Web Designers Jonathan.

    I think I’m most excited about the Audio/Video elements. Being a Linux user, I haven’t always had the best experience with Adobe Flash Player and especially now that the 64bit version was temporarily put on hold. The Audio/Video elements will hopefully give me a good alternative to this.

  10. I’m most excited for the possibilities with audio. So tired of flash being the only method of handling audio on the web (aside from QT).

    Additionally, the semantic elements are awesome.

  11. Really looking forward to the new form features. Also just the structure changes, which should clean and speed things up development wise.

  12. Humbly I’m looking to get a jump on the youngsters.. I’ve been around the web before it was the web and never got as into the code as I could have thanks to having office jobs outside of design. Now I’m trying to take my life in a creative path.

    In trying to write my own ticket to the future, I’m looking forward to reading a manual on HTML 5 that doesn’t read like stereo instructions. Or a law brief…

  13. The effects that Apple is showing off in their HTML demos are the most interesting HTML5 demos I’ve seen. So I’d have to say those effects are the most interesting.

    They go beyond technical demos or explanations to saying, “Here’s what you could *actually* do.” — and of course it looks awesome, which is a great sell for HTML5 (and Safari).

  14. Thought to add on to my original comment — there’s a hidden point here, which is that technology by itself isn’t enough; it’s up to people to make it magnetic, and prove that it has potential to help create greatness.

  15. Simpler declaration of elements, new semantic elements for better content organization and so far great community acceptance.

  16. As I’ve read other blogs about HTML5, I’m most looking forward to it ridding the world of hunger and all crime. That, and also the local storage capabilities — this does seem to offer some very cool possibilities for simple, useful apps (got a few in mind).

  17. I haven’t been able to get a hold of the book yet but I’m anxious to get one. I’m really looking forward to when we can reliably use all the features of the new form elements. Most specifically the way they can help simplify validation.

  18. I had the opportunity to attend the AEA Boston series and see this Seminar. This book looks very solid and quite frankly, I would love to get started with HTML5 with this book. It was a great seminar and imagine the book will be equally as informative and helpful.

  19. Most excited about? Without question, two things:

    – More semantic tags for footer, section, article, etc. It will help alleviate the div soup common on more complicated sites.
    – Form control enhancements. There are so many opportunities here to reduce the need for JS libraries for “effects” and give clients richer options in how they want to collect visitor information. Also, the little stuff, like how adding a type of phone will bring up different input forms in the iPhone. Very exciting.

    I know a lot of people are gaga over local storage and canvas for richer app development, but for most small businesses that would never need that stuff, it means little. The above two things will help everyone.

  20. As far as HTML5 is concerned I’m really looking forward to progress. I’m hoping that the HTML5 spec becomes standard practice and soon. Browser companies need to step it up and implement support for all the media rich features HTML5 can bring to the table.

    I look forward to the days where simple websites can all be done in browser and not even have to open an image editor to design web elements (I know a lot of that has to do with CSS3 but come on Canvas? Hello!)

    Thanks for the review of the book Jonathan I always enjoy your commentary.

  21. One thing that I absolutely love about HTML5 is not the semantic tags (which I absolutely love too, don’t get me wrong,) but the native multimedia controls.

    I am also in love with the new controls that can take on the OS’s look and feel (and possibly styled via CSS too, I believe if I’m not mistaken.)

    HTML5 is definitely the future; as a recently graduated Web Developer it should be my duty to help spread HTML5 (and CSS3) awareness.

    The book will certainly help me in learning how to use this new markup that will not just enhance current websites, but power websites of the future.

  22. Honestly, the new inputs for date sound exciting.

    But more exciting is the possibilities for better organization than nesting a hundred divs, and should help clean up code greatly, not to mention the other bonuses like working with navigation easily instead of scanning for “class=’nav’> or any of a billion other options.

    The book definitely sounds like a good read, too. Hopefully, not being written like a doorstopper textbook will get people to read, and maybe we’ll all benefit as a result.

  23. I am seriously in love with the semantic power of the new elements. I feel those along with the role attribute are a powerful step towards a more semantic web.

  24. I acquired some other HTML5 book recently (which shall remain nameless), and you know I just haven’t gotten into it – but I have a feeling that the “For Designers” sensibility of your delightfully presentable book is going to do it for me. Sometimes trees must die in a good cause and I’m betting this is one of them.

  25. Looking forward to learning more semantic way of structuring content. Would love to win your book.

  26. I’m a graphic designer that discovered the CSS Zen Garden a couple of years ago when I finally began learning how to code websites… since then I have been obsessed and have consumed every book on HTML, Web Standards, and CSS that I can find… I’m still hungry for more!
    Please help feed the need!!
    Best, JT

  27. Having a background in print, integrating the flexibility of HTML5 with the other technologies will allow me and other Web Designers to test their limits. We’ve already seen some fantastic examples of websites and web apps that demonstrate what’s to come in the very near future.

    The form elements are awesome, and all the new DOM features makes writing Javascript so much easier. I’ve also been playing with TypeKit, and I’d love to mix the beautiful fonts with all the new abilities!

  28. How HTML should have been approached years ago.

    I’d love a copy of the book, I want a better understanding of the new technologies.

  29. Agreed that it’s a great introductory book to HTML5 (I wrote a less comprehensive review myself.

    I definitely recommend it to anyone, including developers, as an introduction to HTML5 if they have not used it before.

  30. Terrific read, even on vacation 😉 Will use as textbook in an HTML5/CSS3 workshop I’ll teach this fall. Each sentence stimulates an experiment/exercise. Tell ABA/Jeffrey to get more printed ASAP

  31. I had the privilege of previewing Jeremy Keith’s “HTML5 for Web Designers” and really enjoyed it. His book provides an excellent introduction, and I highly recommend it to anyone who authors/designs/develops for the web.

  32. Can’t wait for the new form elements. Haven’t got the book yet but saw Jeremy speak at An Event Apart and it was awesome.

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