The Essential Guide to HTML5

Author: Jeanine Meyer
Publisher: Friends of Ed, 2010
Pages: 376
ISBN: 978-1430233831
Aimed at: Beginners wanting to program simple games
Rating: 3.5
Pros: Simple games used to teach techniques
Cons: Fails to give sufficient explanation
Reviewed by: Ian Elliot

This book claims to be about HTML5 but the subtitle is more honest - "Using Games to learn HTML5 and JavaScript".
Author: Jeanine Meyer
Publisher: Friends of Ed, 2010
Pages: 376
ISBN: 978-1430233831
Aimed at: Beginners wanting to program simple games
Rating: 3.5
Pros: Simple games used to teach techniques
Cons: Fails to give sufficient explanation
Reviewed by: Ian Elliot

This is a very odd book. It claims to be about HTML5 but the subtitle is more honest - "Using Games to learn HTML5 and JavaScript". Apart from the use of a few tags such as canvas, video and sound this is basically a - let's write some simple games using JavaScript book. Quite a few of the programs could be written using nothing but HTML 4 and perhaps some JavaScript library or other.


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Chapter 1 sets off to tell you about the basics and it is indeed very basic. Chapter 2 is where the book really starts and it uses a dice game to show you how JavaScript works - random number generator, if, and functions. If you don't already program in some language or other this is all going to be over your head. This is also where you meet the very strange presentation of programs using a table format. The idea is that column one holds a programming instruction and column two holds comments on it. In the first chapter where everything is commented it seems as though it might be a good idea, but even here we find comments that basically repeat the code. So for example the comment for ctx.closePath() is "Close path" - this clearly doesn't help and it just increases the density of useless things you have to read.

From dice, which could have been implemented using HTML4, we move on to a bouncing ball which uses the Canvas in a more creative way with the addition of a gradient - but once again the "game" could have been implemented using HTML4. The table layout of the program carries on but now the comments are getting thinner. There is also a tendency not to describe functions in the main text that the are arguably important. The bouncing ball animation is extended in the next chapter to include simulated gravity - a cannonball and slingshot game. This is used to introduce transformations.

Chapter 5 implements a memory game and uses the timer for a pause. Chatper 6 implements a quiz, 7 implements a maze, 8 is rock, paper, sissors, 9 is Hangman and 10 is Blackjack.

If you have implemented any games of this very basic type using almost any language - QBasic, Visual Basic, Java or even JavaScript using HTML 4 - then this book isn't going to teach you very much. Even though it claims to teach you HTML5 and JavaScript it isn't very effective at this. It reads more like a re-hash of a "let's write some simple games" book to jump on the HTML5 bandwagon.

This said, if you are ignorant of such elementary game technques then you might get something out of the book. However it would be a better book if it dropped the tabular presentation of the program code and made more of an effort to discuss the code in the main text.

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Using Joomla

Author: Ron Severdia & Kenneth Crowder
Publisher: O'Reilly  2009
Pages: 416
ISBN: 978-0596804947
Aimed at: Intermediate Joomla users
Rating: 2
Pros: Useful reference
Cons: Tendency to exhaustive lists with obvious explanations
Reviewed by: Mike James

Don't be misled by the "Includes Joomla 1.6"  [ ... ]



The Irrationals: A Story of the Numbers You Can't Count On

Author:Julian Havil
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Pages: 320
ISBN: 978-0691143422
Audience: Mathematicians, scientists, and engineers
Rating: 3.5
Reviewer: Mike James

The irrationals are the most confusing and fascinating type of number, so a book that might make things seem easier is worth cons [ ... ]


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