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The Essential Guide to HTML5: Using Games to learn HTML5 and JavaScript **---

The Essential Guide to HTML5: Using Games to learn HTML5 and JavaScript Featured By Jeanine Meyer
Published November 2010
List Price: $39.99, Your Amazon.com Price: $17.31

Amazon.com Sales Rank: 481,527
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HTML5 opens up a plethora of new avenues for application and game development on the web. Games can now be created and interacted with directly within HTML with no need for users to download extra plugins, or for developers to learn new languages. Important new features such as the Canvas tag enable drawing directly onto the web page, the Audio tag allows sounds to be triggered and played from within your HTML code, the web sockets API brings the facility for real-time communication, and the local storage API enables data such as high scores or game preferences to be kept on a user's computer to be retrieved next time they play your game. All of these features and many more are covered within The Essential Guide to HTML5.

This book begins at an introductory level, teaching the essentials of HTML5 and JavaScript through game development. Each chapter features a familiar game type as its core example, such as hangman, rock-paper-scissors, or dice games, and uses these simple constructs to build a solid skillset of the key HTML5 concepts and features. By working through these hands on examples, you will gain a deep, practical knowledge of HTML5 that will enable you to build your own, more advanced games and applications.

GDNet Staff Review:
For the uninitiated, HTML5 is the latest upcoming standard for rendering content in a browser which attempts to improve upon, standardize, and extend existing browser-based technologies to better support RIA (Rich Internet Applications), making the web browser far more interactive than the limited two-way communication we'''ve seen in the past. And, given the appearance of pretty capable office suites that run in browsers, we are definitely finding spot where browser-based applications can be as good as, if not better than, their standalone counterparts.

And this new approach also extends to games. While browser-based games are well established, they have almost always been done with browser plug-ins, most notably Adobe Flash. And this was because building games without plug-ins was slower, incompatible across browsers, and was just generally kludgy. The standardization of HTML5, most specifically in its "canvas" element coupled with enormous performance improvements in Javascript have greatly improved plug-in-free browser games.

But building a nontrivial HTML5 game is more involved than just opening up Notepad, writing some HTML, and dragging the file into your browser. And that is a niche that The Essential Guide to HTML5 attempts to fill.

The book is aimed at rank amateurs. If you do not know an if-statement from a for-loop, you will be okay here. Although in this respect the text needs to be more organized. After all, if you are at a point in programming that you need to learn how a for-loop works, you will need a pretty comprehensive introduction. But The Essential Guide to HTML5 only spends a couple of sentences defining it (and, inexplicably, a couple more defining it again at the very end).

One problem I have found, not necessarily with the book but with the industry, is that The Essential Guide to HTML5 is trying to hit a quickly moving target. For example, the latest version of Microsoft's Internet Explorer has gone into general release right at the time of this review, and that version makes giant steps forward in supporting the technologies in this book. The book tries to keep things at a fairly elementary level (no HTML5 World of Warcraft here), but that is also somewhat this book's undoing. People writing HTML5 games probably are planning something more sophisticated than Blackjack, but if you are showing off something more sophisticated than Blackjack, the problems of supporting rich content in multiple constantly-updated browsers raises its head. So the book covers the standard as it exists right now, and that is about all that can be done right now.

The next problem I have with the book is that it dives into code a bit TOO quickly. While that is not usually a problem, I would like to see something deeper than "go download TextPad because it'''s like Notepad but with syntax coloring" for a programming environment. After all, we are in an age of Visual Studio and xCode and Eclipse. People nowadays expect some fairly sophisticated programming environments with syntax checking and debugging. And those do indeed exist for HTML5, but you won'''t find them in this book. While Notepad and its brethren are satisfactory for quick "how to program" tutorials for rank amateurs, pros will need better.

And I guess that is the main problem I have. It is that The Essential Guide to HTML5 does not quite know its niche. If it is going to be a "How to write a program" tutorial aimed at people who have never written code, it needs to be more organized. If it is a "how to get up-to-speed with HTML5" book intended to usher existing developers into HTML5 development, then it needs to be deeper. As it stands, the book tries to satisfy both audiences and does not work well enough for either.

Still, if you need some simple examples of games running in real genuine HTML5 with the HTML canvas being scripted with JavaScript, you will find that in The Essential Guide to HTML5.

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