Book Review: The Modern Web, Multi-Device Web Development with HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript

modern-web-bookPeter Gasston follows up his CSS3 book (“The Book of CSS3“) with this more encompassing subject on web development.

While I hardly need to restate a statistic that has been beaten to death in the past few years, mobile platforms are not only growing but outstripping traditional desktop computers in some parts of the world and in some industries. However, that doesn’t mean that all web development needs to be solely targeted at small screen devices. For that reason, adaptive and responsive web design has arisen to avoid the original method of building separate websites for desktops and mobile  devices. And as the author opines (and I agree), with the increasing variety in screen sizes, trying to build a set of fixed-width pages, even adaptive ones is a “fool’s errand”.

So what is the “modern Web”? Is it HTML5? Is HTML5 merely HTML + CSS3 + JavaScript? Actually, no; the reality is even more amazing. Just take a look at the platform that is HTML5 to see the huge array of web browser technologies that exist today.

What does The Modern Web cover? Not every subject under the HTML5 umbrella, but it does hit all of the higher profile technologies. For example, new CSS3 layouts, device-responsive CSS, what modern JavaScript can do, SVG graphics and multimedia, web APIs and more.

And who is the target audience for this title? I can see both web developers as well as technical leaders reading this book. While web developers can learn about what they can do with these newer technologies, they’ll probably need other resources to dig deeply into any given area. A technical leader on the other hand, a project manager for example, could read about what’s possible without digging into every bracket and semicolon in the examples.

At under 250 pages, it does not take the ‘teach with an in-depth project’ approach, but does include single examples including code of most features and/or techniques.

If you’ve dealt with HTML since the early 90s, one only needs to look at this book’s table of contents to see how much the field of web technology has grown and advanced. When you take a step back and consider how far it’s come, it’s inspiring. And with what’s available today versus even a few years ago, I’m even motivated to revamp all of my websites!

I’m developing a bit of an addiction to No Starch books! However, there is one thing that I’d like No Starch Press to change – adding in some whitespace between paragraphs. It just comes across too densely on the page and doesn’t give your eyes or your brain a break or nice ‘stopping’ points. This goes for bulleted lists as well.

I really appreciated that this book which was released at the end of April had inclusions and edits up to as late as March 2013. However, as with any cutting-edge technology, you still need to keep up with changes outside of dead-tree media. Still, all in all, The Modern Web is an excellent book.

You can pick up a copy of The Modern Web for just over $20 at