Head First Mobile Web

I have spent the last week or so slowing reading through Head First Mobile Web by Jason Grigsby and Lyza Danger Gardner. I have to admit that at first I was a bit turned off by the whole format of the Head First series, but after reading through it, I am a believer. The way they set it up really kept me engaged with the various styles of sharing information. It also was helpful to have some simple exercises to reinforce the concepts - breaking out a pencil while reading is great. I’ve always been a fan of workbooks. Of course the code examples are fantastic as well.

I totally went into the book thinking the first couple of chapters would be a review for me, but holy cow, I learned a ton about responsive design, especially the ways to do it mobile first. Then the book moved on to the more difficult subjects of whether or not to build a separate mobile site, how to do that if you choose to do it, and the craziness that is WURFL and device capability detection. For me these chapters were the meat and potatoes of the book and I learned so much about how to go about all of this. As a front end coder, the PHP was a bit difficult for me, but the book laid things out in an easy to understand manner. Since I’ve lately been working on learning to program I found all the vanilla JavaScript concepts I’ve learned to be in the PHP so it wasn’t as hard as I would have initially thought.

The chapter where they use jQuery Mobile to build a site was also a fantastic insight into what a great framework can do to help push along the process, especially when you may not have easy access to lots of devices. Using something that is already tested thoroughly is so helpful. I am a huge fan of the mobile web and so seeing how to do that really well with clean, semantic markup and then just using the new HTML5 data attributes to add on to the look and feel is awesome. It all comes together so easily; I hope I have a future project where I get to use this.

They leave you on a high note, with the idea that doing things cleanly with the markup and moving from there towards progressive enhancement is the way to go to be future friendly and hopefully support as many devices as possible. This really translates into supporting as many users as possible, because it is the people interacting with the device that we want to support. Everyone deserves to get to the information they are after no matter the device they are using or the speed of their connection. Jason and Lyza show how to do that beautifully. I am so thankful that we live in the same town, because I get to pester them at Mobile Portland and I will be able to benefit from the device lab they are working tirelessly to build.

My next steps are to go back over the CSS for this site and set it up to be mobile first. I hope some mobile projects to come my way soon, it’s definitely where my interest lies at this point. The diversity of it all fascinates me. Thank you Jason and Lyza for feeding my fascination with a great book.