I received a question today from Eric, a prospective reader, about which book he should buy: Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML or Head First HTML5 Programming (now the official title of the book, by the way). In his case, the right book to start with is Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML because Eric wants to learn HTML and CSS.

Even though we published Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML back in 2005, over 90% of the book is still completely relevant. When we update this book, we’ll be adding a few new HTML elements, a few new CSS properties, and changing how we talk about the future of HTML (and how we talk about XHTML), but essentially, the basics are the same. Which is great news, because it means that if you already know HTML and CSS, it’s fairly easy to upgrade your pages to HTML5 and make use of new HTML5 elements and CSS properties.

Head First HTML5 Programming picks up where Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML leaves off: this book is all about how you program HTML with JavaScript. That includes basics, like how to update your page by adding content to it dynamically, as well as newer JavaScript APIs you can use to program new elements like <video> and <canvas>, and to use functionality like Geolocation, Web Storage, and Web Workers. If you don’t know JavaScript yet, we’ve got you covered; we take you on a whirlwind tour of JavaScript so you know what you need to know to use all the cool stuff in the rest of the book.

Hopefully that answers your questions about which book to buy. They are designed to go together, starting from the basics of HTML & CSS in the first book, through fairly hard core JavaScript programming by the time you get to the end of the second book.

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