HTML 4 & 5: The complete Reference

HTML-4-and-5-The-Complete-ReferenceHTML 4 & 5: The Complete Reference is an iPhone / iPad app that does exactly what it says: a reference for HTML 4 and 5.

It has a list of all tags, clearly demarcated as HTML4, HTML5 or both. The application is fairly easy to scroll through to find the tag or attribute you want. Clicking on a tag, you get:

  • a brief description of what it’s for
  • what attributes are valid – the good part is you can see clearly which attributes are specific to the element, and which ones are common (like class, id, etc.). You can also see the possible values for the attribute, which helps.
  • and an example of how the tag is used. The examples are quite simplistic, and there’s only one per tag, but it does have a rendered version of the code, which helps.

You can also scroll through the list of attributes and see which tags they’re valid for.

The part that quite interested me was the “characters” or HTML entities. Quite often, I’d want the pound (£) or right angle quotes (»), but wouldn’t know the character or entity reference. So far, I’ve been using this HTML entity reference to search for characters, where I can just type in the word (e.g. pound or quote) and it filters the list to show what I want. I was really hoping to see that on the app, but was disappointed. It lets you search, but it’s not search as you type. And the result points you to a section that contains the character – not directly to the character. (It’s a bit difficult to find the character in the longer sections).

There’s also a section where you can see elements by “task” – e.g. Forms, Link-related, Document Setup, Interaction, etc. This is a pretty useful break-up if you’re looking for the right element for the job, or browsing for interesting new elements to discover in HTML5. (I found the <menu> and <command> tags this way.

You do have the option of just downloading the PDF version of the HTML5 spec and reading it in iBooks, of course. So while I find the book useful, without a search-as-you-type feature, I suspect it won’t do much for my speed of looking up things, so I’ll just stick to the spec for the moment.

Disclosure: I’m writing this post as part of O’Reilly’s blogger review program. While I’m not getting paid to review the app, I did get it for free.