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Customer Review

242 of 249 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too much chatter, too little detail, September 24, 2010
This review is from: HTML5: Up and Running (Paperback)
I must say: I enjoyed going through this book. It is written in an opinionated and slightly irreverent style, so I found it a mildly amusing read.

That being said: why do people buy a book on HTML5? Some would like to have a good in-depth reference on the ins and outs of the new language. Well now - that's not this book. Others might be new to web development and think learning HTML5 would be a good starting point. While they are right that HTML (5 or 4) is the place to start, this book surely isn't.

There's some depth when it comes to background, but much less when it comes to HTML5 itself or how to use it. True, the <canvas> tag and geolocation are covered pretty much in detail, but the author made some hard to defend choices in spending his paper estate.

HTML5 gives us no more than a handful of new tags, still some of those (<mark> and <section>, for example) are simply mentioned once and that's that. No examples, no advise on where to use them, nothing on browser support. Yet the book takes five pages at the start to tell the story of how the img-tag came into being some 15 years ago. Again, mildly amusing, but probably not the reason you are thinking of buying this book.

Another example: there are 10 pages with a primer on audio and video codecs, plus another 19 (!) detailed pages (with lots of screen shots) on how to use a number of specific and probably soon outdated software tools to encode video for the web. All fine for those who are completely new to video encoding and believe a book on HTML5 should be the starting point for that. But when it comes to the actual <video> tag (under the aptly named heading "At Last, the Markup"), this consists of a meager 3 pages that include a statement like this:

"The <video> element has methods like play() and pause()".

Huh? "Methods like"? So which other methods are there? And how and where would I use them? Are these standardized across browsers? Where can I find more about them? Any example, maybe?

If you think these are the kind of questions a book on HTML5 should answer, you are out of luck. The above sentence is all the information on this particular topic you are going to get. Not a word about implementing these methods, or on how to style the browsers' native video controllers that come with HTML5 support. There are a good number of external references for information on things like Unicode, codecs and video containers, and some useful scripts, but not a word on how we can get the information on how to control and style the <video> tag. Maybe the logical conclusion would be: in another book on HTML5, perhaps?
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Showing 1-10 of 12 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 28, 2010 3:54:42 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 28, 2010 3:59:40 AM PDT
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 31, 2010 9:44:15 AM PDT
Re-read the product description: "the most complete and authoritative book you'll find on the subject". Complete it is not: it is a rather hap hazardous selection of HTML5 related topics, some covered in much detail, others in very little. Hence I gave it no more than 2 stars.

More importantly: a lack of understanding is a very legitimate reason to buy a book, in my opinion. Who buys a book on HTML5 when they already know all about it? This book helps only somewhat in understanding HTML5, I think it should have been more thorough and to-the-point. It is neither the complete, authoritative guide it promises to be (too little detail for that), nor a good primer (way too many sub-relevant details). Hence my critical review.

Posted on Feb 1, 2011 2:56:01 AM PST
Joe says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 1, 2011 3:17:03 AM PST
I think most people will buy a book on HTML5 to know how they can use HTML5 today. What can be used already, what is in the pipeline, things like that. Nobody is expecting a complete HTML reference here, but from a book you'd expect a complete and consistent overview. The fact that HTML5 isn't finished is no excuse for this book to be, well, slightly shoddy. A collection of blog posts just isn't the same as a book.

Posted on Mar 10, 2011 9:09:02 AM PST
Andor, thank you for the helpful review.

Posted on Apr 1, 2011 4:50:34 AM PDT
Pablo More says:

Good morning and thank you very much for the helpful review.



Posted on Jun 27, 2011 2:42:14 PM PDT
This was exactly my thought when I went through that section on img tag :) .. This book may not be the right choice if you are looking for a book that would teach you html5 quickly. Too much chatter.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 9, 2011 10:31:12 AM PST
...what would you recommend for someone who is now looking to learn HTML5 (now that Flash is dead as of this morning)?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 9, 2011 11:45:59 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 14, 2011 12:09:56 AM PST
Well, first I would recommend not comparing Flash and HTML5. Just because the media does it, doesn't mean you have to ;-)

Flash and HTML5 are two very different beasts, both from a technical perspective as from a developers' point of view. The comparison only becomes somewhat viable when comparing Flash with HTML5 + CSS3 + jquery (or another JavaScript library). This is what many people really mean when they say "that Flash gets replaced by HTML5" (sic). A more accurate way to put it: the lion share (but not all) uses of Flash are getting replaced by standards based, open technologies, including HTML5. Despite owning an Adobe shop (ColdFusion), I think this is nothing but a good thing. Comparing Flash with the HTML5/CSS3/jquery combo, however, is still comparing apples and oranges. But at least that is a step up from comparing Flash with just HTML5, which would at best be comparing apples and salted peanuts. Or oranges and doorknobs. Anyway, you get the idea.

Now that is out of the way: to learn HTML5, I would certainly recommend first learning proper, semantic HTML and CSS, and not worry about any HTML5/CSS3 specifics at all. Otherwise it would be like embarking on a literature course before learning how to read. And if it is mostly the flashy animation-like effects you were using Flash for (as opposed to building complex applications using ActionScript), don't even think of HTML5. Learn jQuery instead. Bonus: jQuery syntax is like the love child of ActionScript and CSS3, so you should be up and running in no time.

If you still intent to take the HTML5 route (a scenic route it is, if only it leads to where you want to go...), the best way to learn HTML/CSS/HTML5/CSS3 from scratch is through w3schools ( It's free, it's thorough, it's effective, it's always updated and it's interactive. I run a web development company and we always make sure that new coders finish w3schools first, just so we know they have a solid basis. Only then do they get to learn HTML5 and CSS3.

Once you established the basics with w3schools (which may take a couple of days or a couple of weeks, depending on your level), I would check the latest books on HTML5. Remember, HTML5 is still very much under development, so even more than with other technologies, books on the subject tend to become outdated rather quickly.

Good luck, happy learning!

Posted on Jan 2, 2013 9:53:21 AM PST
Will says:
Thanks for your review. Do you have any recommendations for learning HTML 5 for someone who already knows html 4 and CSS, but might be a little rusty. Thanks.
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