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I can easily peg this book as a must-read for web designers and developers who wants to learn what HTML5 is and how to best use it. The HTML5 Cookbook is written in a Problem-Solution-Discussion pattern for each of its segments on a particular HTML5 feature, with plenty of references to external websites for more information and discussion. The segments are grouped in chapters that start with the most simple and common HTML features, to the most complex.
Here's a summary of each chapter, with my review and take-away for them:
Chapter 1: Fundamental Syntax and Semantics
This chapter focuses on the new tags and changes to existing tags in the HTML5 specification, like modifications to the doctype, script and link tags, and introducing nav, header, and footer tags. There are dozens of these, and the Cookbook lists them individually, with concise descriptions for each item.
Even though I was already familiar with most of the new tags and changes to syntax HTML5 provides, this chapter gave a lot of new information and insight about each one - the Cookbook cleared up some confusion I've had about the new article tag and section tag, and clarified how the HTML5 specification will affect accessibility and SEO.
Chapter 2: Progressive Markup and Techniques
Chapter 3: Forms
HTML5 makes life easier for coding up forms, though many of these changes isn't fully supported yet. This chapter goes over the new form features and each features current support (at the time of the publication, at least), and for several features, screenshots on how they will appear in each major browser.
Honestly, in my studies in web design, I've skipped over the chapters or blog posts on HTML forms. I've found that subject to be complicated and boring. Though, the Cookbook's chapter on HTML5 forms made the subject considerably more informative and digestible. Many of the new form features even look fun to experiment with, though the lack of browser support would mean it'll be some time before I could safely use them in a practical website.
Chapter 4: Native Audio
Chapter 5: Native Video
This chapter is essentially the same as the previous chapter, but covering the <video> tag. The attribute syntax between <audio> and <video> is very similar, but there's still enough differences in functionaliy and support. The Cookbook does a good job with covering the features, uses, and support, like with chapter 4.
Chapter 6: Microdata and Custom Data
The concept of microdata and custom data was pretty new to me, though I don't feel that I got a complete understanding of them through this chapter. The Cookbook was clear on what they are now for HTML5 (somewhat), though not as much as the whole picture of microdata. However, the chapter didn't try to do that; instead relying on it's nudging the reader to read more about it on Schema.org; a website the Cookbook referenced throughout the chapter.
Chapter 7: Accessibility
Web accessibility is a big and growing issue in web design, and this chapter covers how the HTML5 specification expands on existing tag attributes, like the "alt" for image tags, and introduces new attributes for making web accessibility easier to implement and accessibility tools more effective.
Chapter 8: Geolocation
Finally getting to the more hyped features of HTML5, this chapter goes over the geolocation API. The chapter focuses on implementing geolocation with jQuery, incorporating fallbacks when there isn't browser support, how to get different location results, and working with Google Maps.
Chapter 9: <canvas>
The other highly anticipated HTML5 feature is the canvas element. This chapter had many segments about the different effects to use with the canvas element, like drawing, transparency, animating, inserting images, and a few others.
Honestly, this was the chapter I was the least invested in, as the Cookbook basically described the canvas element as being a simple, in-browser vectoring program, that uses code to draw. I'm a creative person who've already learned how to use Adobe Illustrator to great effect. I don't see how I'd want to know how to use the canvas element to do what Illustrator can do. I don't think the Cookbook have gone far enough to show how awesome the canvas element is supposed to be.
The final chapter briefly goes over the other new HTML5 APIs and features, like local storage, app caching, drag and drop, and browser history manipulation.
Each of the different APIs and features brought up in this chapter only gets one "recipe" to explain its use and implementation. Though the one section they get was very informative and well spelled out, I was surprised that some of the features (like the drag and drop API) only got one section to explain them. Then again, I don't currently have an interest or a use in these features at this time, so I wouldn't know if I needed more recipes to flesh out my understanding of them.
All in all, this book is a great must-read. It clarified many things about the new semantic tags, though it didn't seem like it shone enough light on the varied capabilities of the new APIs, like geolocation, canvas, and drag and drop. This book was geared toward people who's interested, but know very little of HTML5. However, this book assumes the reader is already experienced in HTML and some scripting, so it's going to be over the heads of complete beginners.