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HTML5 Guidelines for Web Developers

If you're a web developer thinking about moving from HTML 4 to HTML5, you'd probably appreciate a little guidance on the new standard. Fortunately, Addison-Wesley recently published a book, HTML Guidelines for Web Developers, designed to meet that need. Keep reading for our review.

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By: Alejandro Gervasio
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November 29, 2011
  1. · HTML5 Guidelines for Web Developers
  2. · Video and Audio in HTML5

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HTML5 Guidelines for Web Developers
(Page 1 of 2 )

Title: HTML5 Guidelines for Web Developers

Authors: Klaus Förster & Bernd Öggl

Publisher: Addison - Wesley

ISBN: 978-0-321-77274-9

Considering the tumultuous hype that HTML5 has generated in the last few months, it's reasonable to think that many web developers out there will feel eager to migrate from the HTML4/XHTML tandem to the new standard, and start experiencing the many new features that it provides right out the box. Well, if you fall into this category, the book HTML5 Guidelines for Web Developers by Klaus Förster and Bernd Öggl is definitely worth a look.

In my personal opinion, however, this book shouldn't be considered the full-blown, catch-all HTML5 reference that you'd keep at hand by your desktop. Still, it delivers exactly what its title promises: a concise, readable set of guidelines that will help you cross the river and get to the HTML5 shores, without having to sweat too much during the trip.

Does this mean that it's appropriate reading for the absolute beginner? Not exactly. Despite what the authors state at the start, you'll need at least an average (not basic) background in HTML, CSS and JavaScript to follow the huge number of code samples in the book, to grasp their underlying logic.

Now, moving on to the book's highlights...

The Facts Chapter by Chapter

I don't want to sound too picky, but the book's introductory chapter is unnecessarily extensive. It starts with the historical ins and outs of HTML5, and how it reached its current level of maturity (or immaturity, depending on the standpoint from which you want to analyze it).

Learning a bit of history is fine and doesn't hurt (particularly if you're interested in knowing how the XHTML2 Project was turned down for being radically different from the first XHTML conception). Still, the time travel takes too long in this case. Many readers will want to start coding semantic HTML5 documents right away or playing with the standard's juiciest goodies, such a video, audio and the trendy <canvas> element.

In reality, the fun starts in the second chapter. Not only does it offers a solid introduction to the wealth of new structural HTML5 elements, including popular tags such as <header>, <hgroup>, <nav>, <aside>, <section> and <footer>, but it uses a tremendous variety of examples to illustrate how to work with some little-known elements, including <ruby>, <rp>, <meter>, <progress> and <wbr> (just to name a few). In addition, you'll get a couple of diagrams showing what elements and attributes have become obsolete in HTML5, even though (a small nitpick here) the diagrams could have been created in a tabular fashion, rather than using a hard-to-read tag soup.

Of course, any decent HTML5 guide should teach you how to make Internet Explorer 8 and below  interpret the new set of markup elements via JavaScript, and fortunately this book delivers. You'll learn how to accomplish this through a minimalist DOM script, or by using the popular shim/shivs scripts that you've probably used dozens of times before.

If creating semantic HTML5 documents is your highest priority (because it is, right?), you'll appreciate the parts that describe how to outline them and how to use the <strong> and <em> elements instead of <bold> and <i>. This is a big bonus, indeed.

Moving on, chapter 3 must be read, as it covers from top to bottom the engaging HTML5 form elements, including the new "input" types, and attributes like "autofocus," "required" and "placeholder." Aside from discussing how to get things rolling with these form controls, you'll learn how to put the <meter> and <progress> elements to work with some concrete examples, which rely heavily on JavaScript to do their business.

Quite possibly, the chapter's biggest pitfall is that some of the examples unnecessarily include a few ugly, old-fashioned inline styles and JavaScript event handlers. Since this has been done probably for the sake of brevity, it doesn't help to promote the separation of structure, visual presentation and behavior that most HTML documents should now have.

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