updated: May 4th, 2010 / Ross Johnson / 5 Comments

Is HTML5 “Book Ready”?

In many ways I am a creature of habit. There are some things that I end up doing every morning, often with out thinking about it. Morning cup of coffee, brush my teeth and waste time looking through delicious.com/popular…. Today, staring back at my on the list of popular bookmarks was a holding page for a new HTML5 book published by Happy Cog and the “A Part” brand, authored by none other than HTML guru Jeremy Keith. An HTML5 book? now? really?

Upon tweeting my skepticism of the need for an HTML5 book I received a variety of responses (as one would anytime they disagree with some of the “web celebs.”) While all of them were valid I still can’t help but wonder if there really is a place for the book at this time. Don’t get me wrong, I have the utmost respect for all of those involved with this book, and interviewed Jeremy on WebAxe about HTML5 some time ago. He no doubt is one of the most knowledgable people on the subject around, if anyone is going to write the book he should.

However there in lies my skepticism, “if anyone is going to write the book”… should anyone write the book?

Yes it is possible to write in HTML5 now, some browser support it quite well. Firefox, Safari and Chrome all do a good job of handling the new capabilities of HTML5. However IE requires Javascript to make it work, which is a root level a hack. What is interesting to me is that Jeremy Keith talks a lot about progressive enhancement, which is the practice of building a site so that it is functional in all browsers and modern browsers see an enhanced version. However this technique is designing for modern browsers and trying to patch the other browsers (even ones that could be considered “modern”) into working.

I am sure Jeremy did not write this book with the intention of telling people to ignore the progressive enhancement model, but many designers / developers may take it as such.

I don’t see how HTML5 is ready for main stream use. Sure there may be a few instances where you KNOW users will be on a browser that fully supports HTML5 but it is going to be the vast minority. Additionally, the HTML5 spec isn’t finalized. So if we are not at a point where we can regularly use HTML5 for our sites and the HTML5 spec hasn’t been finalized, why do we need a book?

Because it is being published by HappyCog and because Jeremy is involved I am sure it will be a high quality book and will sell well. I get the sense that the goal was to be first to market, if it is established as “THE book for HTML5” it is easy to publish new versions when it becomes more relevant to how the web is actively being developed. I simply don’t see it’s relevance to the average web designer or developer.

5 thoughts Is HTML5 “Book Ready”?

  1. Ross,

    You’re talking about HTML5 as one monolithic thing. That’s fine if you’re talking about the specification but it makes no sense if you’re talking about implementations. At that point, it is far more sensible and pragmatic to discuss *features* of HTML5 (after all, browsers implement features, not whole specs).

    You say: “So if we are not at a point where we can regularly use HTML5 for our sites and the HTML5 spec hasn’t been finalized, why do we need a book?”

    We don’t wait for specs to be finalised before using them. We’ve been using CSS2.1 for *years*.

    I think you misunderstand how the standardisation process works. Browsers don’t wait for specs to be finalised and then implement them. Quite the opposite: most of the standardisation process involves specifying what browsers already implement.

    We *are* at a point where we can use *parts* of HTML5 on our sites. That’s why I wrote the book. If you read what I have written, its relevance to you might become clearer.

  2. I appreciate the response and maybe once I read the book I will have a different viewpoint.

    Yes we clearly have been using unfinished specs for years, and CSS is a great example. I am a large fan of using CSS2.1 / 3 on sites because it often degrades very elegantly.

    However I still don’t see a whole lot of instances when we can safely use even parts of HTML5 on our sites beyond the doctype as a method to ensure that ARIA validates.

    Maybe this is my ignorance and like I said maybe after I read the book my viewpoint will change, however that is why I posed the question is HTML5 ready for a book? I don’t know that it is but I I also don’t know that it is not.

    Ross Johnson
  3. Just want to ask what kind of script is the menu bar here on this site?? thanks!

    Kenneth Co
  4. No script Kenneth, just using good ole fashion position: fixed; in CSS!

    Ross Johnson
  5. ohhh i see.. thanks for the tips!

    Kenneth Co

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