Review of “HTML5 and JavaScript Web Apps” Book

February 21, 2013

Thanks to the good people at O’Reilly User Group Program (Josette, you rock!), the SharePoint User Group I lead has access to review copies of the books in their catalog. In one of the meetings we decided to ask for a book on the modern web apps made with JavaScript.

Building Apps for the Open WebI began reading Wesley Hales book "HTML5 and JavaScript Web Apps" with high hopes. I'm fairly up-to-date on web development but I have to admit that I’m not particularly versed in HTML5. I expected the book to provide an interesting journey.

The first I noticed about the book is how thin it is. There are barely 140+ pages, which is surprising for a technical book these days. It also clearly shows that the intent of the author is to cater for entry-level understanding.

Well, it was so. The book starts with an ultra-short introduction about the Client-Side architecture and then it starts narrating about the mobile web and its challenges. The next chapter plunges into the depths of the mobile web oddities and caveats, with CSS/HTML/JS code that somewhat clutters the chapter. It then covers the “Desktop Web”, with a well-picked but short introduction to several modern JS MVC frameworks, which is one of the best parts of the book.

At the end, the book covers the rest of the HTML5 goodies: WebSockets, Web Storage, Geolocation, Device orientation and Web Workers. These chapters are much more coherent than the first ones.

In short, it’s a quick introduction to the shiny new trends in web apps made in JavaScript and HTML5. Don’t expect working code and full-fledged demos (I did…) but a down-to-the-essentials recap instead. For a book that boasts that “you will quickly master building client-side applications” on its back cover, it is, at least, an overstatement. It will surely get you looking in the right direction, but you have to walk the path to the mastery of modern web apps.


  • Short and summarized reading
  • Variety of frameworks and concepts it covers


  • Confusing sample code in several places
  • Not deep enough to get the concepts explained

Would I recommend the book to a colleague? Yes, but clearly stating that it is an introductory book just to get the concepts in place.

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Written by Edin Kapić Insatiably curious code-writing tinkerer. Geek father. Aviation enthusiast. Cuisine journeyman. Follow me on Twitter