We haven’t yet moved onto HTML5 at Soupgiant. We still code in strict XHTML 1.0 for reasons that Peter knows a lot better than I, but I suspect it has something to do with familiarity and knowing that it works. There’s a safety in that.

We believe very strongly in semantic mark-up and getting things working as much as possible in as many places. We believe in graceful degradation. I believe in closing tags once they’re opened and I didn’t like how HTML5 didn’t demand a trailing slash on stand alone elements. That just seemed like chaos.

Jeremy Keith‘s new book, HTML5 for Web Designers is a no-nonsense 85 pages of the good and bad in the HTML5 specification. It explains how the spec is a lot more open and forgiving than previous specs. It also explains how much work was done to ensure better semantics than previous versions of HTML.

You’re probably thinking exactly what I was. How can any 85 page book tell me what I need to know about the largest HTML specification thus far? Is 85 pages even a book or is it more like an extended pamphlet? How can I take this seriously?

We bought the book largely because we trust the work Jeffrey Zeldman does. This is the first book he has published under Happy Cog’s new A Book Apart label. I thought that if anybody can get a writer to condense all the info I need into a short read, it’s Zeldman. But no pressure, JZ.

The important things it explains is how HTML5 can be used to include rich media on your websites, how it improves web forms (which got me really excited) and how it improves on semantics. And yes, it does actually explain them.

It explains these topics in enough detail that I could start using them today.

I want to keep learning and improving my knowledge of web-based coding. At the same time, I’m running a business now as well as continuing to produce a weekly podcast and trying to have a life. It’s hard to keep up with all the details of a new spec.

It turns out, all I ever wanted was an 85 page book that explained everything I needed to know and cut out all the stuff I’ll never use. I don’t need a beginner’s book but I also don’t want an expert’s tome. I want an executive summary and that’s exactly what this book is. If that’s all you need, look no further.

HTML5 for Web Designers by Jeremy Keith is available from the A List Apart store in paperback or ePub.

About Josh Kinal

Josh makes things on the web easy to use and understand. Sounds simple, but it’s not. His understanding of developing engaging content comes from many years of writing for print and radio. You might have heard him on Boxcutters, his popular weekly podcast about TV or years of appearing on Triple J, Radio National and 3RRR. He also holds a science degree and in 2012 was one of Australia’s few panelists at SXSW Interactive conference in Austin, Texas