Tags: abookapart



New edition

Six years ago I wrote a book and the brand new plucky upstart A Book Apart published it.

Six years! That’s like a geological age in internet years.

People liked the book. That’s very gratifying. I’m quite proud of it, and it always gives me a warm glow when someone tells me they enjoyed reading it.

Jeffrey asked me a while back about updating the book for a second edition—after all, six years is crazy long time for a web book to be around. I said no, because I just wouldn’t have the time, but mostly because—as the old proverb goes—you can step in the same river twice. Proud as I am of HTML5 For Web Designers, I consider it part of my past.

“What about having someone else update it?” Well, that made me nervous. I feel quite protective of my six year old.

“What about Rachel Andrew?” Ah, well, that’s a different story! Absolutely—if there’s one person I trust to bring the up to date, it’s Rachel.

She’s done a fine, fine job. The second edition of HTML5 For Web Designers is now available.

I know what you’re going to ask: how much difference is there between the two editions? Well, in the introduction to the new edition, I’m very pleased to say that Rachel has written:

I’ve been struck by how much has remained unchanged in that time.

There’s a new section on responsive images. That’s probably the biggest change. The section on video has been expanded to include captioning. There are some updates and tweaks to the semantics of some of the structural elements. So it’s not a completely different book; it’s very much an update rather than a rewrite.

If you don’t have a copy of HTML5 For Web Designers and you’ve been thinking that maybe it’s too out-of-date to bother with, rest assured that it is now bang up to date thanks to Rachel.

Jeffrey has written a lovely new foreword for the second edition:

HTML5 for Web Designers is a book about HTML like Elements of Style is a book about commas. It’s a book founded on solid design principles, and forged at the cutting edge of twenty-first century multi-device design and development.

100 words 044

It was Clearleft’s turn to host Codebar again this evening. As always, it was great. I did my best to introduce some people to HTML and CSS, which was challenging, rewarding, and fun.

In the run-up to the event, I did a little spring cleaning of Clearleft’s bookshelves. I took some books on HTML, CSS, and JavaScript that weren’t being used any more and offered them to Codebar students for the taking.

I was also able to offer some more contemporary books thanks to the generosity of A Book Apart who kindly donated some of their fine volumes to Codebar.

HTML5 For Web Designers

I’ve just finished speaking at An Event Apart in Washington DC (well, technically it’s in Alexandria, Virginia but let’s not quibble over details).

I was talking about design principles, referencing a lot of the stuff that I’ve gathered together at principles.adactio.com. I lingered over the HTML design principles and illustrated them with examples from HTML5.

It’s been a year and a half now since HTML5 For Web Designers was released and I figured it was about time that it should be published in its natural format: HTML.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you: HTML5forWebDesigners.com.

Needless to say, it’s all written in HTML5 making good use of some of the new semantic elements like section, nav and figure. It’s also using some offline storage in the shape of appcache. So if you visit the site with a browser that supports appcache, you’ll be able to browse it any time after that even if you don’t have an internet connection (and if you’re trying it on an iOS device, feel free to add it to your home screen so it’s always within easy reach).

You can read it on a desktop browser. You can read it in a mobile browser. You can read it in Lynx if you want. You can print it out. You can read it on the Kindle browser. You can read it on a tablet.

And if you like what you read and you decide you want to have a physical souvenir, you can buy the book and read it on paper.

HTML5 For Web Designers


Jeffrey, Mandy and Jason have created something very special with A Book Apart. This lovely video from the good folks at Mailchimp does a nice job of capturing the spirit of this publishing enterprise:

Needless to say, I was incredibly honoured to write the first book they released. But my little contribution was but a harbinger of what was yet to come. I am John The Baptist to Ethan’s Jesus Christ.

As of today, you can buy Responsive Web Design from A Book Apart. I urge you to do so. And don’t skimp on the electronic versions either—the ePub has been crafted with a wonderful level of care and attention.

I could try explain what it is about this book that makes it so special, but I’ve already tried once to do that. Ethan very kindly asked me to write the foreword to his book. I was—once again—honoured.

This was the best I could come up with:

Language has magical properties. The word “glamour”— which was originally a synonym for magic or spell-casting— has its origins in the word “grammar.” Of all the capabilities of language, the act of naming is the most magical and powerful of all.

The short history of web design has already shown us the transformative power of language. Jeffrey Zeldman gave us the term “web standards” to rally behind. Jesse James Garrett changed the nature of interaction on the web by minting the word “Ajax.”

When Ethan Marcotte coined the term “responsive web design” he conjured up something special. The technologies existed already: fluid grids, flexible images, and media queries. But Ethan united these techniques under a single banner, and in so doing changed the way we think about web design.

Ethan has a way with words. He is, of course, the perfect person to write a book on responsive web design. But he has done one better than that: he has written the book on responsive web design.

If you’re hoping for a collection of tricks and tips for adding a little bit of superficial flair to the websites that you build, then keep looking, my friend. This little beauty operates at a deeper level.

When you’ve finished reading this book (and that won’t take very long) take note of how you approach your next project. It’s possible that you won’t even notice the mind-altering powers of Ethan’s words, delivered, as they are, in his light-hearted, entertaining, sometimes downright hilarious style; but I guarantee that your work will benefit from the prestidigitation he is about to perform on your neural pathways.

Ethan Marcotte is a magician. Prepare to be spellbound.

Unboxing Apart

Writing a book is hard. Ask someone who’s writing a book right now how it’s going and chances are you’ll catch them at a bad moment.

But there are good moments. Writing the final words of a book: that’s a good moment. Having conversations with a kick-ass editor: those are good moments. Hearing that the book has been sent to the printer: that’s a really good moment.

The best moment of all is when you finally have the physical book in your hands.

HTML5 For Web Designers was delivered to the Clearleft office last week. The moment had arrived.

Joe once told me that the thing to do when you finally have a copy of your own book in your hands is to open it a random page and immediately find a typo. I’m happy to report that that little test returned no results.

Instead, I opened up the book at a random point, pressed my nose into it and breathed deeply. Ah, that new book smell!

It looks as good as it smells, which is hardly surprising given the care and attention that Jason poured into the design. Clearly I’m not alone in that appraisal. As the book gets delivered to discerning readers across the globe, Flickr is filling up with pictures of HTML5 For Web Designers fresh out of the box. I’ve added my own unboxing set to the mix.

Front cover Back cover HTML5 For Web Designers HTML5 For Web Designers Cath reading HTML5 For Web Designers Shannon reading HTML5 For Web Designers

Twitter is also abuzz with reports of the book’s arrival, although it’s also filled with an oft-repeated question: when will HTML5 For Web Designers be available in digital format?

It is with great pleasure that I give you… HTML5 For Web Designers on the iPad:

HTML5 For Web Designers on the iPad

Seriously though, there will be an ePub version available at some point, but we want to make sure that it’s top quality. In the meantime, get yourself the fragrant dead-tree version and enjoy the physical feel of it. You may even want to take a picture.

Announcing HTML5 For Web Designers

For the third time in my life, I have written a book. HTML5 For Web Designers is available for pre-order now from A Book Apart.

That’s right—the same lovely people who brought you A List Apart are now delivering good ol’-fashioned dead tree publications.

The quality and craftsmanship of the resultant book is, as you would expect, stratospherically high. How could it not be given the team of superheroes who put it together:

Working with them has been an honour and a pleasure. I’m certain that is their generosity that spurred me on to deliver what is, in my opinion, the best thing I have ever written.

It’s not a long book. It’s about 16 kilowords long. That’s a feature, not a bug.

If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.

Whether that quote is attributable to Cicero, Twain or Pascal, it speaks to a real truth in writing. Omit needless words said William Strunk. Or, as Orwell wrote in Politics and the English Language:

If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

But that doesn’t mean that HTML5 for Web Designers is a mere exercise in brevity and information density. It’s also quite fun.

Fun isn’t a word that you often hear associated with technical subjects like markup languages but I knew that if I wanted to appeal to the right audience for this book, I had two watchwords:

  1. It has to be brief.
  2. It has to be entertaining.

That’s where the team behind A Book Apart really helped me.

I started with the first chapter and wrote it in my voice. This is usually the point at which a traditional publisher would respond with suggestions for improvements to the writing style to make itappeal to a wider audience …resulting in a watered-down bland shadow of the original.

Jeffrey, Mandy and Jason responded with so much enthusiasm and encouragement that I felt I could continue to just be myself when writing this book. The result is something I am truly proud of.

Given its brevity, HTML5 for Web Desigers is obviously not an exhaustive look at everything in HTML5. There is no mention of offline storage, drag’n’drop or any of the other advanced JavaScript APIs. Instead, I’ve focused on forms, rich media, and most importantly, semantics. The book is intended as a primer for web designers who are hearing a lot of conflicting and confusing things about this strange amalgamation of technologies called HTML5. I hope to bestow some measure of clarity and understanding.

The first hit is free. You can read chapter one, A Brief History of Markup, on A List Apart.

Jason describes the design process, Mandy tells of the business aspect and Jeffrey has written a very kind and flattering overview of the book. You can pre-order your copy now.

As excited and proud as I am of HTML5 for Web Designers, is it wrong that I am equally excited that the book is also an item on Gowalla?