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on September 14, 2012
First let me say that I am a huge fan of the Head First series. However, this is not one of the better books in the series. It's ok, but not great.

I am a college professor and assign these books regularly to my students, who usually find them very helpful and accessible. The main problem with this HTML5 book is in the first 4 chapters: while it attempts to provide an intro to Javascript as needed for HTML5, the chapters don't result in any working code by the end. There are no themes to the chapters, and there is no overall project that the book helps you make as an example. The chapters in this book don't build up to a solution, either individually or as a book.

The reason this is bad is twofold:

(1) I can't say "get the code in chapter 3 working before next class" because the chapters are just a jumble of disconnected examples. The exception to this is chapter 2, but chapters 1, 3, 4 should have also followed this model since those chapters are all attempting to teach the rudiments of Javascript.

(2) Newbie students have enormous difficulty generalizing and reapplying generic, disconnected solutions. They need a consistent set of working examples that they can refer to again and again. The consistent set of examples in a book like this provides common ground for everyone in the class. The way this book is designed, there are too many different tiny examples. In Chapter Four, should I talk about the Dog example, the Movie example, the Game example, or what? There is too much inordinate context switching within each chapter.

The Head First Javascript book is much, much better as a teaching book for Javascript basics. It uses one example per chapter, and covers the basics very well. And for most of the chapters, students get working code at the end. Unfortunately, I wrongly assumed it would be a bit outdated now that we have HTML5 to contend with. I'm trying to stay current with my classes and not teach old crusty things. And this book appeared to be an intro to Javascript, so I was hoping that this book would be a replacement. Not so.

I think what should have happened here is that this book should be a "Part Two" to the Javascript book. I should have still had the students work from the Javascript book, and then used this book's chapters 5-10. I could use ch1-4 in this book to just point out the differences with traditional Javascript (but let that other book introduce the DOM, language syntax, etc), and then get on with chapters 5-10 in this book which are more the meat of HTML5.

But this book does a pretty poor job of Javascript basics. So if you're getting this to be a replacement for Head First Javascript, think twice.

With that said, chapter 5 on geolocation is perfect. There are just enough examples and fun ideas for "on your own" projects. My advice is for the authors to pitch this as a "part two" to the H.F. Javascript book, and chuck chapters 1-4. Instead, replace a few of those chapters with some of the "stuff we didn't get to" from their "Leftovers" appendix.
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on November 2, 2011
The first 6 chapters blew me away with its coverage of JavaScript. I really wasn't expecting an introduction to JavaScript from an HTML5 Book, but I am glad it did, however, as the first half of the book is an excellent introduction to using JavaScript for DOM Manipulation as well as passing data to and from web servers and 3rd party services using the XMLHttpRequest Object. If you are unfamiliar with JavaScript, I would recommend this as your first book for learning JavaScript. The focus on fundamentals was really refreshing. The examples were believable, interesting, and challenging. And, the whole problem-solution approach used in the Head First Series Books is very useful for both learning the theory and applying it in real-world scenarios.

The last half of the book takes all the JavaScript you learned in the first half and applies it to some of the new features in HTML5 like Geolocation, Canvas, Video, Web Storage, and Web Workers. I am still amazed by the Geolocation and Google Maps API example as I just did something similar for a client. Just like the coverage of JavaScript, you get a really solid introduction to using the HTML5 features as well as background on the problems they solve. As you can see from the list of features I mentioned above, the book doesn't cover all the new features in HTML5. As with all the Head First Books you get a list of the top 10 things they didn't cover and there is an appendix that lists many of the new HTML5 Tags that aren't covered, too.

If you haven't read a Head First Series Book, be prepared for a lot of diagrams, puzzles, pictures, speech bubbles, games, and other visual and gaming strategies to help you learn. I still haven't quite got used to it, but after reading Head First HTML5 I am convinced the books are worth it even if I am not a huge fan of all the strategies.

The book is very much targeted at beginners. If you are new to JavaScript and HTML5 and appreciate lots of images, Q&A's, puzzles, and other strategies to help you learn, I highly recommend the book.
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on November 16, 2011
This is not an HTML 5 reference book and does not pretend to be. Go through the easy-to-follow book page by page, exercise by exercise. Come out at the end understanding how to program in JavaScript and knowing enough about HTML5 to build superior websites. Head First HTML5 Programming: Building Web Apps with JavaScript

You can always pick up a reference book to pick up the odds and ends, if you need to do so.

Don't be intimidated by the alleged 600 pages in a tutorial format. First, lots of white space, graphics and big type mean you won't be looking at sheets of man pages. Moreover, all those design elements serve real purposes. Each topic gets a breezy, easy-to-assimilate intro. Then it presents the key concept with clear illustrations. Next, you have to think about what you just learned and construct real-world examples.

After the overview, each of the nine main chapters follows the same pattern. You learn as you go. The authors present the key basic information and techniques for each category. Sure, you have to follow the book in order to build on each topic, but you really only have to work on one at a time. You won't find yourself hitting the TOC and index to try to tie in the related content. Freeman and Robson have handled that in background.

For just one peek, the web storage (chapter 9) starts off with a cutesy closet analogy in words and a 50s photo. It jumps directly into a history of the development of browser storage, particularly cookies. It illustrates the functions of cookies and presents a quiz on what problems using cookies might present.

This leads immediately into verbal and graphic descriptions of how the HTML5 JavaScript API differs from and how it has some of the same functions as cookies. This flows into an exercise where you think of the API as a Post-it note system, with tasks on creating a web page with browser storage. This is functional and you test your work in a browser. Afterward, words and images explain what happened in each stage of the browser implementing the code.

The chapter continues along that line, dealing with each aspect of storage, through flushing data no longer needed. When you complete the tutorial, including the programming, you know plenty about how web storage works and how to implement it in your own systems.

In short, using this book is a commitment. The authors make it as painless as possible and if you have a little tolerance for cute, you are likely to think it is fun going through each section. I worked through it all and don't regret it. I knew a whole lot about HTML4 but not JavaScript. I pay this book the great complement for a tutorial -- I knew substantially more coming out than when I started.

Serious programmers would quibble about what it leaves out. There's a lot more to HTML5 than they get to. The authors are plain up front that they expect you to know HTML4 an CSS first, but nothing else in the field. I definitely benefited from the JavaScript first half of the book. The HTML5 up front and in the second half are perfectly adequate for most of us. This volume goes beyond clever and into the near brilliant class in delivering what it promises.

Head First HTML5 Programming:
Building Web Apps with JavaScript
By Eric Freeman, Elisabeth Robson

Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Released: October 2011
608 pages
$49.99 paper
$47.99 ebook
$54.99 paper and ebook
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on March 13, 2013
First about the book itself. I've really enjoyed the head first books as a smooth introduction into unfamiliar territory having worked through both Head First Design Patterns and Head First HMTL/XHTML & CSS. They serve as great jumping off points to gain foundational understanding of topics and allow you to move onward into deeper more technical material. Head First HTML5 is the same deal. The book is well written in traditional head first style and serves to give the reader a great introduction into HTML5 and Javascript and even some of the new API's.

Unfortunately all of this is massively out shadowed by the publishing quality.

As a technical person I purchase many of my technical books on kindle format for easy access when I am working on one of my various computers at work, home or school. I originally purchased this book on kindle. This book IS NOT accessible under the kindle cloud reader. I was only able to even load this book on my tablet. This in itself is an annoyance but not the final straw. When I pulled it up on my tablet this book was not scalable to the device. It was a scanned representation of the book and I was forced to pan around the pages in order to read it. It is detracting to the flow of reading to be forced to pan around a single page just to read the content being presented and found myself spending more time fiddeling with page alignment and trying to remember what was being presented than learning. I found this to be essentially unusable and was sadly forced to initiate a return. I have several Head First books on my Kindle Cloud that work just fine and are presented nicely and in a fluid manner. I can only speculate as to why they put so little effort into the digital publication of this particular book. It is quite unfair to the author as well who did an outstanding job on the book itself. This book is absolutely not professional quality for electronic publication and O'Reilly should be ashamed of themselves.

After this incident I still wanted to read the book and needed to go to the local book store to find a copy. Strangely I found several copies that were in black and white and on remarkably thin paper. What is that about, are you guys even trying anymore? I did however end up finding a color copy of the book on decent paper and am currently, finally, satisfied with this book.

In conclusion: This books electronic format is a joke, don't even bother with it. This book needs to be much more accessible if your going to publish to kindle, do it right. O'Reilly should really take more pride in what they are delivering to the public. If you can go through the effort to find a quality color print of this book, or are some sort of masochist and enjoy panning around on your tablet/ripping pages out of a black/white book if not handled with surgical care, it is worth it. Now that I have my copy I am satisfied with the content and overall learning experience I have had with HTML5.
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on January 25, 2012
I wish I could get my money back.

This book is NOT in epub format. It's just a bunch of PDF copies of the book, which is useless if you want to enlarge or highlight the text.

They shouldn't sell this on Kindle, or make them republish it as an epub and give all who bought it a free copy of the epub version.

I'd steer clear of this if you are not buying the hard copy version.
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VINE VOICEon April 20, 2012
Plenty of JavaScript focus
Many topics are covered on a page devoted to that topic
Plenty of white space makes it easy to read
Lots of drawing/word-oriented exercises
e-book version is easy to carry

May be too fluffy for some readers
Paper book is a bit big and heavy to carry around
Not enough examples and programming exercises
Doesn't actually cover HTML, the markup language itself


This book is a tutorial for readers who already know HTML and CSS and want to add scripting and other programming capabilities to it. For programmers used to a concise, reference-oriented style, e.g. C Programming Language (2nd Edition), this is the opposite end of the spectrum. Some might say it is fluffy, too full of white space, too chatty. As an example, they spend several pages at the beginning trying to sell you on the style of the book, something I do not find necessary: the style works, or it doesn't, for a given reader, and there are a LOT of exercises to firm up your grasp of the concepts. For me, I'd like to see them spend more time on examples and exercises: I learn better by reading examples and working out programming exercises.

I like the book, though I grew impatient at having to go through too many words or exercises to find what I was looking for. But I am NOT the target audience (software developer of 30+ years experience), and as the book itself says, if I'm looking for a reference book, this is not it. At the same time, for the more advanced subjects that I am less familiar with, this could be helpful.

I think the book could be very effective for the target reader, and on that basis I am giving it four stars.


As the title says, the book is about HTML5 programming. What is less obvious is that the book is not so much about the markup language, as I expected when I ordered the book. This is because the subtitle, "A learner's guide to building web apps with JavaScript", was not evident when I ordered from O'Reilly's Web site, and I was going only on the "HTML5 Programming" part.

I liked seeing the integration of several diverse technologies that when put together make a powerful and effective Web application development environment. The table of contents is the best way to understand the range:

1. Getting to Know HTML5
2. Introducing JavaScript and the DOM
3. Event Handlers and All That Jazz
4. JavaScript Functions and Objects
5. Making your HTML Location Aware
6. Talking to the Web (JSON, JSONP)
7. The Canvas
8. Video (using built-in functions, not plug-ins)
9. Web storage
10. Web workers (multi-threading support)

In addition, there is a light touch on a few other subjects: Modernizr (detecting browser support), Audio, jQuery, XHTML, SVG, Offline Web Apps, Web Sockets, more canvas API, Selectors, and a few others.

The book does not cover core HTML markup itself, or CSS; it assumes that you have that knowledge, and instead adds to it with these other technologies. They recommend Head First HTML with CSS and XHTML if you don't know it already.

In addition to the book itself, the Web site offers a zip archive of all example code for download.


For a Web page developer knowledgeable on HTML and CSS, this book brings a wealth of technical capabilities to Web applications, and in particular examples of using them and explanation on how they work in an approachable fashion for a those who are not programmers.

Three stars, because the coverage of the subjects is introductory. In a book this big, they could have covered more material by sacrificing some of the pictures for more content. And for a book that has HTML in big bold letters on the cover, it is puzzling that there is essentially nothing about markup here: it should have a different title, like "adding programming to your HTML5 Web pages".
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on May 22, 2013
This book was the 2nd purchase of Head First material. I bought this book for a more in depth look at producing actual web applications. I bought the Head First JavaScript book first and although it teaches from a different perspective; I realized I should have just purchased THIS book as it, in my opinion, is a FAR better book for what I needed (Making web pages INTERACTIVE).

Heads First Design Style
As far as the drawings looking childish this is far from true as I am a college student majoring in Web Application Development, and I used this book as a primer before I took the Javascript class. I learned some things the teacher didn't even know.

This book is designed to make you use the best part of your brain, the picture learning area, which uses pictures along with caption to make your brain "understand" the concept as opposed to memorize (short term) the concept. For some reason with so many pictures I remembered tons more than I would from a text only book.

Examples Applications in this Book
-You make an app that adds the song you type into the textbox to appear on a playlist.
-You make an application for a T-shirt design website.

Recommended Reader
Anyone who wants to develop web applications (pages basically not like programming separate applications) using HTML5 and JavaScript and also to those who have not made the leap to HTML5 (you're gonna love it so much less typing/coding to get same result).
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on May 1, 2014
At first I would like to say that I was very skeptical about the Head First series. I’m an old fart and I didn’t think it would fit in with my style of learning, that being traditional text books. Boy was I wrong. And this book is great at teaching JavaScript. I’m about halfway through and am having the best experience I’ve ever had doing a computer text.

I have a friend who used a Head First book and hated it. He said it was disjointed and hard to follow. I asked if he had read it in chronological order? He said no and that he jumped around the book a lot. I asked if he did the exercises in the book like they told him to do, and again he said no.

People, you have to do it the way they say to do it. If you do it their way you will learn a lot.

I’m sure that not all the Head First books are equal, but I will be checking out more of them.

Thanks guys, good job.
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on May 17, 2016
I love these books! I'm only up to chapter 4, so maybe it is too early to comment, but these books teach things in exactly the way my brain wants to learn them.

I'd loved the prequel "Head First HTML and CSS", but I figure learning something as Byzantine as Javascript in such a fun way would be a tall order. Especially in a book not entirely dedicated to to Javascript.

I was shocked realize the book cuts right to the chase and gives you that spark of comprehension that allows you to pick up all the fundamentals with ease. No tedious memorization or trial and error until things gel together, only to be forgotten later. I'm only* 100 pages in but I'm not only writing Javascript, but I actually fully understand what I'm doing and why.

(*Trust me, this is the only series of tech books I've read where 100 pages doesn't feel like that much work)

What's really funny is that the prequel teaches you all about the DOM without explaining what the DOM really is. All those cute flowcharts they had you make with fridge magnets? Yeah, *spoiler alert* those are important later on when you move onto Javascript.

Really, if you want to master javascript but don't feel like beating your head into a wall I recommend you go through "Head First HTML and CSS" first, then head straight into this one.
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on May 5, 2013
1) The most ridiculous, and ironic, thing about this book is that it is about all this slick technology available for presenting information BUT the kindle version is STATIC PAGES that you can't resize (other than zooming in and out on EACH page). You either read it in portrait and strain your eyes or you read it in landscape, get overly-large print, and scroll up and down to read the page before loading the next "page."
2) The fluffy approach to presenting the information is cute and annoying, cute and annoying, cute and annoying and after a while you realize that the cute and annoying is getting in the way of knowledge, understanding, and application. ignore the high-ish overall rating. Go to the library or otherwise get a preview to see if the presentation suits you prior to buying the PAPER version. DO NOT get the Kindle version.
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