Book Review and Giveaway: The Modern Web by Peter Gasston

Disclosure: I was provided a review copy of this book by No Starch Press. This provision has not altered my opinions offered in this review.

It’s no secret that front end development carries quite a load when it comes to technologies you’re responsible for. When you look at a cumulative list it’s almost daunting to think about it as something you’d want to focus on in your career. If I’m honest I think that challenge is part of what makes front end development so exciting.

Photo of a book: The Modern Web

The Modern Web by Peter Gasston

Finding physically printed books on the topic of Web development is no small task either. I’m always on the hunt for new books to recommend to people I meet in life that are curious about getting into front end development seriously. Instead of telling them that I’m self taught by scouring countless blogs for years on end, I try my best to have something in mind that would meet their personal need given their progress with the material thus far.

One area in particular that has been more challenging is finding a book that would be great as someone’s second book to read on front end development. There are a ton of fantastic introductory books on HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, but what comes next? Usually it’s simply an advanced book on JavaScript and instruction to check out a few great blogs on HTML & CSS to keep up with what’s new in HTML5 and CSS3. The Modern Web by Peter Gasston, though, is filling that gap in print.

Content Breakdown

The Modern Web is self-defined as:

Today’s web technologies are evolving at near-light speed, bringing the promise of a seamless Internet ever closer to reality. When users can browse the Web on a three-inch phone screen as easily as on a fifty-inch HDTV, what’s a developer to do?

Peter Gasston’s The Modern Web will guide you through the latest and most important tools of device-agnostic web development, including HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript. His plain-English explanation and practical examples emphasize the techniques, principles, and practices that you’ll need to easily transcend individual browser quirks and stay relevant as these technologies are updated.

The chapter outline is equally comprehensive:

  1. The Web Platform
  2. Structure and Semantics
  3. Device-Responsive CSS
  4. New Approaches to CSS Layouts
  5. Modern JavaScript
  6. Device APIs
  7. Images and Graphics
  8. New Forms
  9. Multimedia
  10. Web Apps
  11. The Future

There are two appendices titled “Browser Support as of March 2013” and “Further Reading” which really drive home how much Peter wanted to provide the latest information he could, but not without properly disclaiming the nature of working in front end development. This was my first time reading a book that took the time to illustrate the most acceptable way of doing something, even if it wasn’t written in the stone of official specification. Proper notice was given every time something had a chance of changing, and I think that’s great.

I think that sometimes as seasoned front end developers it’s easy to forget that we’ve got a sixth sense into how various CSS properties or HTML tags are being received by both the community and the entities at large that make them a reality to work with. Peter does an awesome job of getting someone new to more advanced techniques up to speed with what’s current.

As I was reading through the book I found myself constantly asking whether I thought Peter would dive into certain (what I consider to be) bleeding edge front end techniques. Lo and behold he covered that and a few alternatives or related technologies we should recognize and learn. I found myself elated when I finished the book to see so much covered in as much detail as it is. I really love the balance Peter struck with introducing technologies and providing just enough example code so you can have a play with it. The Modern Web, in my opinion, is one of the most comprehensive books on front end development techniques in 2013 I’ve read.

If you’re a front end developer looking to get a physical book with all the latest and greatest, or a back end developer who’s trying to be a bit more generalized in your talents, or you find yourself needing a recommendation list for colleagues/friends/family that always ask for advice, The Modern Web should definitely be on your list. Not that it is directly responsible for the value of the product, but No Starch Press books are some of my favorites in terms of quality as well.

Giveaway Details

As has become pretty common with vendor-provided book reviews on Monday By Noon, I’ll be giving away my copy of The Modern Web to someone who wants it. The rules are quite simple: entries will be open for one week (ending June 16 at 11:59pm Eastern) are limited to Members and to enter you simply log in to your account fill out this form:

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Good luck!