This is to preface why I ended up in possession of a copy of Andy Harris' HTML5 For Dummies Quick Reference. Over the years, I've found the “For Dummies” books a good place to start on something that I either didn't know about, or needed a refresher on. They are a mixed bag, however, with some being excellent, and some being notably awful. This, while being a “quick reference” (there are numerous code examples throughout the book and executed on the author's web site), and not intended to be a “course”, was quite informative and encompassing of the subject – if being a bit of a mass of info to try to take in all at once as a “read”. Oh, and just in case there are total code newbs reading this, HTML is Hyper Text Markup Language, and CSS is Cascading Style Sheets … I know my wife would be hard pressed to break those out, so I figure the might be a few who were similarly unfamiliar with the abbreviations that had still read this far down!
One thing that really surprised me in getting into HTML5 is that we're back to browser-specific code. “Back in the day” one pretty much had to write two web sites, one for Netscape, one for MSIE, and set up a “sniffer” on your index page that would send the right browser to the right code. For the past decade, this hasn't been so much of a problem … well, here we are again when it comes to HTML5. There are lots of the new fancy stuff that will require “stacking” up code to specify the functions for the various browser engines, of which there are four main ones: WebKit – Chrome/Safari, Gecko – FireFox/Mozilla, Trident – MSIE, and Presto – Opera. Between these there is a maddening mix of implementations, as one can see by the charts on this page (that Harris points his readers to).
Again, you're probably not going to learn the ins-and-outs of writing HTML5 from this reference, but if you're messing with it and think “oh, heck, how did that shadow thing work?”, you're a quick flip to the Index away from finding out the specifics with this. One of the things I'm most excited about here is the ability to write in fonts that are not dependent on what the end-user has installed on their system … a huge leap forward for web design.
HTML5 for Dummies is probably going to be available “wherever programming books are sold”, but the online new/used vendors have “new” copies for under three bucks (plus shipping, of course), which might be a good thing to think about if you are, like I was, living in an earlier realm of code. It goes without saying, however, that this isn't for everybody, or even for most of the folks reading these reviews … but I'd recommend it to anybody who's not a massive code wiz, who wants to keep up with what's out there these days!