Bruce Lawson’s personal site

Introducing HTML5 (almost) in the can

Last Friday was our deadline and, with the spec changing all around us, Remy and I got all the chapters in for Introducing HTML5. There’s still much to do; we have to address comments made by our editor Jeff Riley, a copyeditor and our two technical editors Patrick Lauke and Robert Nyman, as well as add information about the brand-new track element.

Some people have asked for a chapter list. Here it is:

  1. Introduction (why HTML5 exists)
  2. Structuring a page (header, footer, nav, aside etc)
  3. Marking up a blog (the outlining algorithm, other new elements, what’s removed, what’s changed, WAI-ARIA, case-study of HTML5ifying The Guardian homepage. This chapter is a monster so we may split it into two.)
  4. Forms
  5. multimedia (video, audio) markup and APIs
  6. canvas
  7. storage
  8. Working offline
  9. Drag and Drop
  10. Geolocation
  11. messages, web workers, web sockets

From the introduction:

Who’s this book for?

No knowledge of HTML5 is assumed, but we expect you’re an experienced (X)HTML author, familiar with the concepts of semantic markup. It doesn’t matter whether you’re more familiar with HTML or XHTML doctypes, but you should be happy coding in any kind of strict markup. While you don’t need to be a JavaScript ninja, you should have an understanding of the increasingly important role it plays in modern web development, and terms like DOM and API won’t make you drop this book in terror and run away.

What this book isn’t

This book is not a reference book. We don’t go through each element or API in a linear fashion, discussing each fully and then moving on. The specification does that job in mind-numbing, tear-jerking, but absolutely essential detail. What the specification doesn’t try to do is teach how to use each element or API or how they work in the context of each other. We’ll build up examples, discussing new topics as we go, and return to them later when there are new things to note.

You’ll also realise, from the title and the fact that you’re comfortably holding this book without requiring a forklift, that this book is not comprehensive. Explaining a specification that needs 900 pages to print (by comparison, the first HTML spec was three pages long) in a medium-sized book would require Tardis-like technology—which would be cool—or microscopic fonts—which wouldn’t.

The publishers are intransigent about page-count, so there’s lots that we can’t put in (but we cover the important things that are being implemented today). There also wasn’t room for “sexy photos of the authors looking dreamy lying on fluffy shag pile animal pelts, 70s style” that one HTML5 Doctor requested, although we may have a contest in which the lucky winner gets 2 hours in which to take such photographs.

11 Responses to “ Introducing HTML5 (almost) in the can ”

Comment by Stéphane Deschamps

“in mind-numbing, tear-jerking, but absolutely essential detail”: I like the Douglas Adamsesque feeling of this bit 🙂

Also, for a kinda constructive question: don’t you think that your (and Jeremy Keith’s) book is a bit ahead of its time, the spec still being a moving target etc.?

Comment by Bruce

Hi Stéphane

– HTML5 is a moving target, but it’s not moving as much as it was. Plus with all the conference talks etc I’m doing, it’s pretty obvious that there’s demand for that information now. My ego demands that I satisfy it!

Comment by Stéphane Deschamps

Cogito ego sum? (yeah, I know, I know…) 😉

I’d love to see y’all sum up accessibility issues as well: whatever happens to longdesc and what alernative strategies one should put in place, how the ALT spec has changed, stuff like that. But maybe it’s too late for the book?

Comment by Bruce


We talk a lot about accessibility. We don’t talk about the changes to the alt spec because I’m not convinced all that will make it to “final” (it seems to tread dreadfully on the toes of WCAG 2). Also, as the book is for experienced markup authors, I’m assuming they understand about alt text and can make sensible decisions about it. Were it a massive book for n00bz, I’d do differently.

Comment by Daniel Walker

Just dropping by to make an obligatory comment, regarding the choice of publisher. Life takes some whimsical turns, at times.

Let’s hope this books sells in the bazillions and makes its author (and, of course its publishers) extremely rich.

“That’s not in the spec!”
“No, but it IS in Bruce Lawson’s book!”
“It is? Why didn’t you say so? Make it so!”

Comment by Daniel Walker

Indeed, Bruce. Sitting here at work, listening to the Undertones and contemplating the futility of voting, in Hexham (in Hartlepool, you stick a beret on a monkey, and they’ll hang him as a Frenchman, but in Hexham, you pin a blue rosette on the wee bugger, he’ll probably end up as Transport Secretary!)

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