“The Modern Web” by Peter Gasston; No Starch Press

As the pace of change in the Web domain keeps accelerating, working Web developers, all of us but especially freelancers, struggle with finding the time to: 1) work; and 2) not get too far behind the technology curve.

This book was written to help with that struggle:

[T]his book is a snapshot of current, new, and near-future features in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and related technologies, with a bias toward those that are best for building sites in the multi-device world.

The book begins by describing stuff that’s in a fairly advanced state of deployment, for example, elements introduced in HTML5 and WAI-ARIA properties, then moves through the spectrum to things not quite loose in the wild yet, like Web Components and CSS Variables. The author assumes some proficiency with Web technologies, sparing the busy reader long introductory explanations.

You will get a lot out of this book — in fact, I think you will get the most out of it — by first reading it through without concerning yourself too much with the plentiful code samples and implementation details. You’re unlikely to encounter a more articulate and engaging mid-level overview of the future of the Web platform anywhere, and the opportunity to gain a sense of how it all meshes by a quick read-through should be seized. You can re-read what is most timely for your current project, and then follow the links to further reading for more detailed and up-to-date information.

There is a good bibliography and suggestions for further reading appended to each chapter, and the references are gathered together again near the end of the book.

I found a lot in this book that I knew about, and more that I had never heard of, and came away with some confidence that I know where the technology is heading. I highly recommend this book for working Web developers.

The Modern Web
Peter Gasston
ISBN: 9781593274887
Publisher: No Starch Press
Released: April 2013
Pages: 264

<hgroup> Is Obsolete: Goodbye!

From HTML5Doctor comes the news — the <hgroup> tag is obsolete and is not to be used.

The spec., rather an “Editor’s Draft”, offers advice on how to mark-up subheadings using here-to-stay elements, under the subheading “Common idioms without dedicated elements”.

For example, use this mark-up…

<h3 style="background-color:#E3E3E3;padding:1em;">3D films set for
popularity slide </h3>
<p>First drop in 3D box office projected for this year
despite hotly tipped summer blockbusters, according to
Fitch Ratings report</p>

…to get this display:

3D films set for popularity slide

First drop in 3D box office projected for this year despite hotly tipped summer blockbusters, according to Fitch Ratings report

Can’t say I’m going to miss it.

Internet Explorer and ReCAPTCHA

FWIW — I’ve been working on a client’s site having a problem with reCAPTCHA form fields not being posted in Internet Explorer. The site had an XHTML Doctype but mark-up inside the reCAPTCHA iframe wasn’t compliant, which apparently threw IE off its game, although Chrome, Firefox and Opera had no problem with it.

Changing to a html5 doctype, “<!DOCTYPE html>” made everything just work, and there was no reason not to do just that in this case, but the internals of the ReCAPTCHA form might want some looking at before deploying the tool in production.

Again, For What It’s Worth.

HTML5 Audio

Yesterday a friend ran into a problem with a WordPress audio plugin — it acted as if there was an undocumented constraint on uploaded file size — and we were both surprised to see that the plugin played the audio file by embedding it in a Flash movie. He was trying to help someone else so it turned out we really couldn’t do much about the problem but it started me thinking that I should look into the state of things with respect to HTML5 uptake and Web-audio.

So what shows up in my feed reader this morning but “HTML5 Audio — The State of Play” from html5 Doctor, explaining not only the current state of things but also linking to a 2009 article covering the basics of HTML5 audio. With code!