HTML5 for Web Designers Book Review and Giveaway

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!