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Head First HTML 5 Programming

Publisher: O'Reilly

You may not realize it, but the web is changing. Though the eventual "change over" is still a long ways away, web developers and programmers are slowly beginning to implement HTML5, the latest version of HTML (or Hyper Text Markup Language, the backbone for almost every website on the Internet), into their sites. In fact, you've probably already used a couple of HMTL5 elements and not even realized it. Most major browsers already support a few HTML5 elements, and sites like Gmail, Google, The New York Times and CBS (as well as a version of YouTube) are already use the protocol.

So, you may be asking "What's the big deal with HTML5?" For one, the language aims to expand the language's scope, and what developers can do, without introducing numerous plug-ins like Flash, Silverlight and Java. This means you won't have to install (and update) numerous plug-ins. Additionally, many mobile devices feature support, allowing faster web browsing on HTML5-supported sites.

The new standard means current developers will need to get up-to-date on the new features quickly, but also opens to the doors for budding web developers and designers to jump onboard and get a head start in learning the new technology. O'Reilly Media has both sides covered with Head First HTML5 .

I've been a fan of concept behind O'Reilly's Head First series for a while now, though previous attempts to use the books have usually turned out unsuccessful, leading me to believe the concept was neat, but didn't work. HTML5 Programming changed that perception entirely; leading me to think previous attempts were due to my brain not being wired to handle other subject matter (C#, mainly) as efficiently.

Rather than tossing out a numerous step-by-step examples and hoping you understand the subject by the end of the book, the Head First series focuses on making sure you "get it" and making sure you understand what's happening. Each chapter includes a short task built around one or two concepts meant to show a certain aspect, like the Canvas or Video tag, or Web Storage API's. Each is introduced with some background information as well as in-book exercises meant to get you writing and coding quickly. In order to keep your interest, the book also includes lots of offbeat pictures and notes scatted throughout the chapter. Though goofy, the extras are meant to keep your brain engaged, allowing your brain to latch on to information quicker and, even more important, retain it better.

Before diving in to HTML5, you'll need some understanding of HTML and CSS. The book assumes you know something about web development, so while it isn't a great jumping off point for newbie developers who haven't coded before, it is fantastic for novice and advanced developers. A bit of Javascript knowledge is also helpful, though the first few chapters do a more than adequate job at getting you as up to speed as you need to be.

I'm still very much a novice when it comes to web developer, but was able to make it through the first few chapters without much trouble. Once I got deeper into the book, however, I decided to switch over to O'Reilly's Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML for a refresher course. With that knowledge firmly in my head, I was able to get through the rest of the book without much outside research. By the time I got to the new tags, I started figuring out steps well before they were introduced in the book. I don't recommend jumping ahead in any chapters - even if you already know it - but it is the best testament possible for the book's methods. They work.

If you're looking for a desktop reference guide to HTML5, Head First HTML5 isn't for you. Although the book does a fantastic job of introducing some of the new elements, it doesn't drill down into any with extensive details. The focus is on getting you to understand what's happening and how to do the basics; you'll need to seek out broader details on your own. The book also stays away from a couple of the more transitory elements. HTML5 is far from locked-in, so some elements are still changing.

My experiences with other Head First books wasn't great, but I absolutely loved HTML5 Programming (and, HTML with CSS & XHTML). Each chapter was filled with little victories and I was surprised by how well I was able to retain the information after stepping away from the books. This is a great book and I can't recommend it enough.



-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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