HTML5 Foundations, by Matt West (Softcover, 2013)|
(You can print this review in landscape mode, if you
want a hardcopy)
Reviewer: Mark Lamendola, author of over 6,000 articles.
I found this book to be both technically detailed and readily accessible.
That is a very rare combination. I started with HTML in 1996, and it was pretty
simple back then. We didn't have CSS, and even something like an included page
(used for menu, for example) was considered fancy stuff. When HTML 2.0 came out,
I felt a bit overwhelmed. As this specification has evolved, I have not managed
to keep up.
Part of the reason for my Neanderthal-level coding mentality is I have
thousands of legacy pages, and I have several sites that have the old coding and
old structure dating back from the pre-CSS days. But another part is it's
just been difficult to wrap my mind around the changes while trying to do
everything else. It's not just new abilities that you can tack on, it's a
fundamental changes in how we do things. Some best practices, such as using
good taxonomy, have not changed. But many have, and what used to be good
coding is now bad coding.
If this book wasn't intentionally aimed at people like me, it hit the
I'm not a Web designer; I'm a site administrator. Mostly, I create
content. The coding is just something else I have to do. It makes up a minor
part of my total workload. Many site owners are in exactly this position. We
don't go to HTML conferences, take Web design classes, or do other things
that a specialist would do. There just isn't time (or money). We are, for
the most part, out of the loop. And we're seldom doing a green (new)
project. We're maintaining existing pages.
On one of my (many) bookshelves is a book on HTML. The copyright is 2000.
It's the only other HTML book I have. Ouch.
Sadly, there's not a WYSIWIG editor that produces clean code. At least,
not that I know of. I still use FrontPage for my static page sites because
of structural issues, but I have to spend time manually cleaning up the bad
HTML that FrontPage sticks into those pages. For my dynamic pages, I use
Dreamweaver as my editor. I also use Notepad. This is just to maintain
things and to make some smallish updates, and I run into HTML questions that
I don't know the answer to. This book will help me immensely.
As I said, I'm not a Web designer. People compliment me on my e-commerce
sites (crystalkeen and mindonnection). While I'd like to take
credit, that credit goes to Kevin Ford at MivaMan. Now after reading this
book I understand some of the things that Kevin just gave up trying to
explain to me. Now instead of just implementing this or copying that and not
really knowing why it gets done that way, I know.
If you're at all involved in doing any coding on any Website, even just
maintenance, this book will help you better work with your Web designer. You
can avoid making mistakes that your Web designer has to clean up for you
(sorry, Kevin!), and you can be more realistic about what approach to take
to implementing features on the site if you're the owner of it and need to
understand the scope of the work.
For the full-time coder or Web developer, this book probably holds some
real nuggets. At the risk of channeling Donald Rumsfeld, I don't know what
it is you know and don't know. But the detail and the organized way in which
it is presented are good clues to me that you should get this book.
If you're a "part-time coder" who's been at it for very long (a decade
and a half, in my case) you probably share my problems with legacy code. I
could spell them out here, but you know what I'm talking about. Not having
access to classes or the other resources that come with training for a job,
we "wing it" folks have had to learn the hard way. And we've not only missed
many good things, we've learned many bad things. This book is ideal for us.
In the Introduction, Matt said it's OK not to read from cover to cover.
While I understand where he was coming from on that, I did read this book
from cover to cover and will probably do so again. This book can really
raise my game, and that's the main reason I love it.
HTML5 Foundations consists of an Introduction and 14 chapters occupying
332 well-written pages, plus three excellent appendices, a detailed TOC, and
an indepth index.