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…. 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.