I picked up a free copy of HTML5 The Missing Manual as part of the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program despite reading other book reviews suggesting the HTML5 book was too simplistic for professional web designers and web developers. Although I agree the book doesn't dive into every nook and cranny of HTML5 to lull us to sleep, it hits that sweet spot to help web designers and web developers start integrating HTML5 and CSS3 into their websites where it makes sense. In addition to teaching the new HTML5 Syntax and the semantic meaning of the markup, it also provides a wonderful treasure of web design and development resources on the Internet, an insightful perspective on the differences and evolution of HTML5 Markup compared to earlier versions of HTML and XHTML, and a pleasurable pace and writing style that keeps you interested in the material from cover to cover. If you are a web designer or web developer new to HTML5, HTML5 The Missing Manual is a great way to get started at incorporating HTML5 into your websites.

As some quick background, I wanted to mention my background on HTML5 with respect to HTML5 Games and Orchard CMS.

HTML5 Canvas and HTML5 Games

One of my hobbies is developing HTML5 Games with my daughter. During the week and on weekends in particular we spend several hours together crafting various games based on the HTML5 Canvas. Initially the idea was to use HTML5 Games as a way to teach my daughter HTML5 and JavaScript, but it turns out we just enjoy developing games. Much of what we have learned also gets incorporated into her school projects as well. In her last science fair project we created a website using HTML5, jQuery Mobile, and Spine.js that had a lot of animated HTML5 Canvas charts and simulations as well as a number of games supporting her science fair subject of Ballistics. For this year's science fair project we are also creating a new website to accompany her project on the Bernoulli Principle, complete with more HTML5 Canvas simulations.

Orchard CMS and HTML5

If you are an ASP.NET MVC Developer or Microsoft .NET Developer, you may be familiar with the new Orchard CMS. Orchard CMS uses HTML5 Markup by default when developing new pages, blog posts, widgets, etc. Although some of the HTML and WordPress Themes I convert to Orchard Themes are done in previous versions of HTML and XHTML, most of the new website themes now use HTML5. I also build all of my custom Orchard Modules and Orchard Widgets using HTML5 and CSS3. In fact, most of my day as a web designer and web developer is spent developing in HTML5 and CSS3 while developing Orchard Websites, Themes, Modules, and Widgets.

HTML5 The Missing Manual

HTML5 The Missing Manual

But, let's get back to the subject at hand - HTML5 The Missing Manual by Matthew MacDonald. As I mentioned before, the pace and style of writing is very comfortable for those web designers and web developers new to HTML5. The book is divided into 3 parts. The first part provides a brief introduction to the evolution of HTML and XHTML, the new tags introduced in HTML5, how to structure your web pages using the new HTML5 tags and markup, as well as the symantec meaning of the new HTML 5 tags. As I mentioned before, it is important to understand the symtantec meaning of HTML for search engine optimization ( SEO ). This first section helps web designers and web developers get started really quickly structuring their web pages using the new HTML5 Markup and using those HTML5 tags semantically correct to help search engines and web crawlers attach meaning to the HTML5 structure. Essentially you're getting an introduction to the new HTML5 Tags: <header>,<hgroup>, <nav>, <section>,<aside>,<figure>, <footer>, and the other HTML5 Tags that provide more meaning to the structure and content of your web pages. Say goodbye to a number of your <div> tags when a more meaningful HTML5 tag can take its place.

Part 2 of the book goes a bit more in depth than just helping desigers and developers provide structure to their web pages using HTML5. Part 2 dives into HTML5 forms and the new input types provided in HTML5, the new HTML5 audio and HTML5 Video tags, and the new HTML5 Canvas. HTML5 The Missing Manual provides lots of good information on the new input types for email addresses, URLs, search boxes, telephone numbers, dates, times, etc. as well as the <audio>, <video>, and <canvas> tags. The book presents good information on HTML5 Form Validation, autofocus, placeholders, and other features that help with client-side browser functionality.

Personally, the best book I have read on the new HTML5 Canvas is geared at making HTML5 Games, called HTML5 Canvas. It also discusses the new audio and video tags in detail as well. Fantastic book in general, but if you are interested in developing HTML5 Games, I consider it a must read.

This section also dives into a bit of CSS3, which is obviously different than HTML5, but still very, very important to modern web design. Again, if I may recommend my favorite book on CSS3 - The Book of CSS3!

Part 3 of HTML5 The Missing Manual then dives into those parts of HTML5 that provide desktop style features, like:

  • HTML5 Local Storage
  • Offline Web Applications
  • Web Sockets
  • Geolocation
  • Web Workers
  • History Management

It is part 3 where you mainly get a nice introduction to the topics and you will need to purchase additional books or resources to build more real-world web applications using these more advanced features of HTML5. However, the information provided is absolutely excellent for those new to HTML5 and wanting to understand the advanced features and the problems they solve.

Online HTML5 Resources

Probably one of the biggest benefits I personally received from reading this book is the endless inclusion of a number of really cool online resources mentioned in the book for developing and designing websites. This was a really wonderful and unexpected treat while reading the book. As the book unveils the new HTML5 features throughout its pages it constantly points to useful resources on the Internet, many of which I never heard of or used, but that I often now use in my day-to-day web design and development.


As mentioned above, HTML5 The Missing Manual is an excellent book for those new to HTML5 and wanting to understand how to quickly start structuring their pages in a meaningful way using semantic HTML5 markup. The material covered is probably common knowledge for intermediate and advanced web developers, but it will certainly help those new web designers and web developers wanting to understand the history of HTML5 and how the new HTML5 tags and markup will help improve their web designs going forward. It is also a really good survey of advanced HTML5 features focused on desktop-style web applications as well as CSS3 and JavaScript. Although I have been using HTML5 a lot in my daily web design and development, I learned quite a bit about the evolving HTML standards and some really good resources on the Internet.

Learn more about HTML5: The Missing Manual on Amazon.