Learning HTML5 Step by Step

HTML5 Step by Step
$34.99 from Microsoft Press

I’ve reviewed several books lately that introduce the new elements in HTML5; each of them assumes that you already have a working knowledge of html and css and simply want to know about the changes. But what if you’re brand new to web programming and want a simple html book that assumes you don’t know anything about making websites?

In that case, Microsoft’s HTML5: Step by Step could be exactly what you’re looking for. As should be obvious by now, if you already have some experience coding websites, this book is not for you. It starts out by explaining what HTML is, how to save a .html file in notepad, how to test your site in a web browser…you get the idea. On the other hand, if you’ve never built a webpage before, read on!

Part one of the book starts with how to edit and view HTML files, formatting a document (that is, placing the head, body, and html tags), formatting text, setting up lists and backgrounds, and creating links; in other words, everything you need to know to build a basic website. Once you’ve completed this section, you essentially know everything you need for most sites except the formatting.

Part two introduces you to style sheets and graphics. A style sheet is a file containing code that describes how the content of a webpage should be displayed; by separating the style from the content (which goes in the HTML), it becomes much easier to get everything to look the way you want it to look, and it’s also much easier to change things! To top it off, this also saves you a lot of code in multi-page sites (since you only have to write things once, rather than over and over) which makes your pages load faster as well.

Part three is about layout and navigation: now that you know how to make each section of the page display the way you want it to, how do you make it display where you want it to? This section covers creating and displaying divisions on your page, as well as the newer semantic elements present in HTML5. (A semantic element is a tag that describes what it contains, such as article or header). After learning to float divs (which lets them sit site by side on the page, rather than one after another), the book covers tables and forms. It also introduces the new audio and video tags HTML5 provides to allow playing video and sound files requiring without a plug-in. Finally, it introduces JavaScript (which is used to control the behavior of a webpage).

Something I thought was a nice touch is appendix B, which provides guidelines for making your websites accessible; by following these suggestions, you help people with disabilities (or just old browsers) to take advantage of what your site has to offer. Another nice addition is a code for a free digital copy of the book.

As you would expect from a Microsoft book, the text mostly talks about Internet Explorer, but it does recommend using multiple browsers to test your pages and even tells you where to download Opera and Chrome. Unlike the last Microsoft Press book I read, the editing seems pretty decent, and the book is easy to read.

Will this make you an expert on HTML? No…this is an introduction, written to be an easy to follow tutorial on website creation, and it shows. The book is 350 pages, with lots of pictures; there’s no space to cover more advanced topics, such as how relative and absolute positioning work together. As an introductory book, though, it’s not half bad; if I was teaching an introductory class on websites, this is a book I’d consider using.

Disclosure: IĀ receivedĀ a free review copy of this book.


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This entry was posted by William on Thursday, July 7th, 2011 at 9:03 pm and is filed under Technical . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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