Tags: abookapart

14

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Flexibility

Over on A List Apart, you can read the first chapter from Tim’s new book, Flexible Typesetting.

I was lucky enough to get an advance preview copy and this book is ticking all my boxes. I mean, I knew I would love all the type nerdery in the book, but there’s a bigger picture too. In chapter two, Tim makes this provacative statement:

Typography is now optional. That means it’s okay for people to opt out.

That’s an uncomfortable truth for designers and developers, but it gets to the heart of what makes the web so great:

Of course typography is valuable. Typography may now be optional, but that doesn’t mean it’s worthless. Typographic choices contribute to a text’s meaning. But on the web, text itself (including its structural markup) matters most, and presentational instructions like typography take a back seat. Text loads first; typography comes later. Readers are free to ignore typographic suggestions, and often prefer to. Services like Instapaper, Pocket, and Safari’s Reader View are popular partly because readers like their text the way they like it.

What Tim describes there isn’t a cause for frustration or despair—it’s a cause for celebration. When we try to treat the web as a fixed medium where we can dictate the terms that people must abide by, we’re doing them (and the web) a disservice. Instead of treating web design as a pre-made contract drawn up by the designer and presented to the user as a fait accompli, it is more materially honest to treat web design as a conversation between designer and user. Both parties should have a say.

Or as Tim so perfectly puts it in Flexible Typesetting:

Readers are typographers, too.

Service worker resources

At the end of my new book, Going Offline, I have a little collection of resources relating to service workers. Here’s how I introduce them:

If this book were a podcast, then this would be the point at which I would be imploring you to rate me on iTunes (or I’d be telling you about a really good mattress). Instead, I’d like to give you some hyperlinks so that you can explore some of the topics in this brief book in more detail.

It always feels a little strange to publish a list of hyperlinks in a physical book, so I figured I’d republish them here for easy access…

Explanations

Guides

Examples

Progressive web apps

Tools

Documentation

Acknowledgements

It feels a little strange to refer to Going Offline as “my” book. I may have written most of the words in it, but it was only thanks to the work of others that they ended up being the right words in the right order in the right format.

I’ve included acknowledgements in the book, but I thought it would be good to reproduce them here in the form of hypertext…

Everyone should experience the joy of working with Katel LeDû and Lisa Maria Martin. From the first discussions right up until the final last-minute tweaks, they were unflaggingly fun to collaborate with. Thank you, Katel, for turning my idea into reality. Thank you, Lisa Maria, for turning my initial mush of words into a far more coherent mush of words.

Jake Archibald and Amber Wilson were the best of technical editors. Jake literally wrote the spec on service workers so I knew I could rely on him to let me know whenever I made any factual missteps. Meanwhile Amber kept me on the straight and narrow, letting me know whenever the writing was becoming unclear. Thank you both for being so generous with your time.

Thanks to my fellow Clearlefty Danielle Huntrods for giving me feedback as the book developed.

Finally, I want to express my heartfelt thanks to everyone who has ever taken the time to write on their website about their experiences with service workers. Lyza Gardner, Ire Aderinokun, Una Kravets, Mariko Kosaka, Jason Grigsby, Ethan Marcotte, Mike Riethmuller, and others inspired me with their generosity. Thank you to everyone who’s making the web better through such kind acts of openness. To quote the original motto of the World Wide Web project, let’s share what we know.

Going Offline, available now!

The day is upon us! The hour is at hand! The book is well and truly apart!

That’s right—Going Offline is no longer available for pre-order …it’s just plain available. ABookApart.com is where you can place your order now.

If you pre-ordered the book, thank you. An email is winging its way to you with download details for the digital edition. If you ordered the paperback, the Elves Apart are shipping your lovingly crafted book to you right now.

If you didn’t pre-order the book, I grudgingly admire your cautiousness, but don’t you think it’s time to throw caution to the wind and treat yourself?

Seriously though, I think you’ll like this book. And I’m not the only one. Here’s what people are saying:

I know you have a pile of professional books to read, but this one should skip the line.

Lívia De Paula Labate

It is so good. So, so good. I cannot recommend it enough.

Sara Soueidan

Super approachable and super easy to follow regardless of your level of knowledge.

—also Sara Soueidan

You’re gonna want to preorder a copy, believe me.

Mat Marquis

Beautifully explained without being patronising.

Chris Smith

I very much look forward to hearing what you think of Going Offline. Get your copy today and let me know what you think of it. Like I said, I think you’ll like this book. Apart.

Timing

Apple Inc. is my accidental marketing department.

On April 29th, 2010, Steve Jobs published his infamous Thoughts on Flash. It thrust the thitherto geek phrase “HTML5” into the mainstream press:

HTML5, the new web standard that has been adopted by Apple, Google and many others, lets web developers create advanced graphics, typography, animations and transitions without relying on third party browser plug-ins (like Flash). HTML5 is completely open and controlled by a standards committee, of which Apple is a member.

Five days later, I announced the first title from A Book Apart: HTML5 For Web Designers. The timing was purely coincidental, but it definitely didn’t hurt that book’s circulation.

Fast forward eight years…

On March 29th, 2018, Apple released the latest version of iOS. Unmentioned in the press release, this update added service worker support to Mobile Safari.

Five days later, I announced the 26th title from A Book Apart: Going Offline.

For a while now, quite a few people have cited Apple’s lack of support as a reason why they weren’t investigating service workers. That excuse no longer holds water.

Once again, the timing is purely coincidental. But it can’t hurt.

That new-book smell

The first copies of Going Offline showed up today! This is my own personal stash, sent just a few days before the official shipping date of next Monday.

I am excite!

To say I was excited when I opened the box of books would be an understatement. I was positively squealing with joy!

Others in the Clearleft office shared in my excitement. Everyone did that inevitable thing, where you take a fresh-out-of-the-box book, open it up and press it against your nose. It’s like the bookworm equivalent of sniffing glue.

Actually, it basically is sniffing glue. I mean, that’s what’s in the book binding. But let’s pretend that we’re breathing in the intoxicating aroma of freshly-minted words.

If you’d like to bury your nose in a collection of my words glued together in a beautifully-designed package, you can pre-order the book now and await delivery of the paperback next week.

The audience for Going Offline

My new book, Going Offline, starts with no assumption of JavaScript knowledge, but by the end of the book the reader is armed with enough code to make any website work offline.

I didn’t want to overwhelm the reader with lots of code up front, so I’ve tried to dole it out in manageable chunks. The amount of code ramps up a little bit in each chapter until it peaks in chapter five. After that, it ramps down a bit with each subsequent chapter.

This tweet perfectly encapsulates the audience I had in mind for the book:

Some people have received advance copies of the PDF, and I’m very happy with the feedback I’m getting.

Honestly, that is so, so gratifying to hear!

Words cannot express how delighted I am with Sara’s reaction:

She’s walking the walk too:

That gives me a warm fuzzy glow!

If you’ve been nervous about service workers, but you’ve always wanted to turn your site into a progressive web app, you should get a copy of this book.

Announcing Going Offline from A Book Apart

I decided that I wanted a new mug.

I already have one very nice mug. It was sent to me by A Book Apart because I wrote the book HTML5 For Web Designers back in 2010. If I wanted another nice mug, it was clear what I had to do. I had to write another book.

So I’ve written a book. It’s called Going Offline and it’s available to pre-order now. It will start shipping a few weeks from now.

I think you will enjoy this book. Here’s why…

You have a website or you make websites for other people. You’re comfortable with HTML and CSS, but maybe you’re a bit apprehensive about JavaScript (like me). You keep hearing lots of talk about service workers and progressive web apps. You’re intrigued. But you’re put off by the resources out there. They all assume a certain level of JavaScript knowledge. What you need is a step-by-step guide to help you make your website work offline …a guide that won’t assume you’re already comfortable with code.

Does that sound like you? Then Going Offline is for you.

Thinking about it, a more accurate title for the book would’ve been Service Workers For Web Designers …although even that would assume too much existing knowledge (like, what the heck a service worker is in the first place).

Pre-order Going Offline today and it will be in your hands in just a few weeks.

Alas, I have no idea when my new mug will be ready.

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

Ethan

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?