Book of the Day: The Modern Web

The Modern Web: Multi-Device Web Development with HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript by Peter Gasston is an ambitious achievement. It is a carefully curated compendium of some of the most compelling developments in web technologies placed in context of the multi-device landscape.

This book is about front-end web development in this new web-everywhere era. It’s about learning methods to make first-class websites, apps, or anything built on open web technologies, with the multi-device world aforethought.
This is not a book about how to make mobile websites or smart TV apps; it’s about learning the latest developments in current and near-future web technologies so you’ll be better able to build sites capable of offering the best experience everywhere.

— Peter Gasston

The Modern Web is packed with information. It starts with an introduction to the current landscape of devices and the platform we call the web and ends with a look at what’s still coming down the pipeline. In between you’ll find coverage of the following elements:

  1. The Device Landscape & The Web Platform
  2. HTML5 ( Microdata, WAI-ARIA, data-attributes )
  3. Device Responsive CSS
  4. CSS Layouts ( Flexbox, columns, grid-layout )
  5. JavaScript ( DOM interaction )
  6. Device apis
  7. Images and Graphics ( SVG, canvas )
  8. Forms ( new elements, client-side validation )
  9. Multimedia ( media elements, media fragments, media events,
    media API
  10. Web apps ( hosted apps, packaged apps, manifest files, W3C widgets, PhoneGap, Titanium, Webinos )
  11. Future ( web components, custom elements, shadow DOM, regions, exclusions, box-alignment, line grid, paged media, feature queries )
  12. Current State of Browser Compatibility

The explanations are clear, explaining not only the concept and how to use it, but also discussing its potential benefits and pitfalls. At the end of each chapter there are extensive references to each topic covered should you be ready to dive deeper.

It’s important to approach the book knowing what it actually is, and is not about, so as not to be disappointed. This really is a book about understanding and using the evolving technologies we use to build websites and web apps in the changing landscape of the thing we call the web. It is neither an introduction nor a complete reference to HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript. It discusses developments that you can’t safely use yet along with those you can. It is not a tips and tricks book; instead, it is a deep dive into the big picture, providing introductions to a number of topics which would demand their own book to master.

Of course the question is, how much of what you read about will you actually be able to implement? The answer, of course, depends on the constraints you currently face — or more specifically, the browsers you need to support. While you won’t be able to immediately use and implement everything you find in The Modern Web, that shouldn’t stop you from reading it. The holistic approach takes all the technologies as pieces of a puzzle and helps in framing how they all fit together and why it matters.

If you’re hoping to gain a good overall picture of what the latest developments in front-end technologies are and some ideas on how to use them, The Modern Web is a great place to start. Unless you’re an expert on all of the topics mentioned above, you’re going to pick up some new knowledge.

As a front-end developer, it is important to have an understanding of the context we work in, user trends, technological developments, and the tools that are already at our disposal or will be soon. The Modern Web: Multi-device development with HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript aims to help fill that gap and it does it well.

My verdict: If you only read one book on the latest developments in HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript this year, this is the one.

Check it out on Amazon.

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