Author: Ian Devlin
Publisher: Peachpit Press
Audience: Beginners who want incorporate multimedia into websites
Reviewer: David Conrad
Web Multimedia is a strange mix of simple and complex. The latest HTML5 audio and video tags make things simple in principle but in practice it can be very messy. Can this book keep in simple from beginning to end?
Chapter 1 starts of with a look at the basics of HTML5 and I'm not really sure this is necessary in a book so focused on a subtopic of HTML5. Even so it might help some readers. Chapter 2 is where the multimedia proper starts and it first describes the way things used to be done, i.e. using Flash and media players in general. Then it moves on to the basic HTML5 tags - audio and video. It also outlines the differences between browsers in they way they treat the tags and the use of the source element to make sure that you provide at least one format that is supported. At the end of this chapter you have just about all you need to know to actually use audio or video tags and you might well be wondering what the rest of the book is going to be about.
The next two chapters take a slower deeper look at the audio tag and then the video tag. You get to find out in detail what a codec is and what browsers support what codecs. There are examples of how to play files on the latest browsers and what to do for legacy browsers.
The next chapter shows you how to use CSS to format the video window and place text and other special effect overlays on top of it. Chapter 7 pushes the CSS into transitions, transforms and animations to the video or audio display. This isn't particularly special to the video and audio tags because CSS can be applied to style any HTML element in roughly the same way. Of course the dreaded CSS vendor prefixes are scattered all through these chapters, but there is little the author can do other than warn you where the examples will or will not work.
Chapter 8 is about accessibility and covers subtitles and other issues. Chapter 9 is on using video with canvas and this demonstrates simple techniques for displaying video on the canvas element, screen dumping and how to do some simple image processing - converting a color video to gray scale. Chapter 10 describes using SVG with video - mainly using SVG to mask the video display area to produce an elliptical video viewer say.
The final chapter looks at some of the latest multimedia technologies including the getUserMedia API, which gives you access to the device's camera.
Being a programmer, for me the best parts of the book were towards the end where the power of canvas and SVG were used to show how you could be more creative.