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HTML5 Mobile Pro Desktop Edition? Really?

Disclaimer: Here comes an angry and seriously disappointed customer. If you are fan or a friend of authors stop reading here. I’m expressing some strong opinions. You’ve been warned.

Another disclaimer: There is a line you don’t cross… even if it’s beta… even if you cut those $30 off. There’s no preview (for a reason), and I had to trust your word. Which was a mistake.

A while back I was lured into purchase of a video workshop named “HTML5 Mobile Pro Desktop Edition” by Amy Hoy and Thomas Fuchs. The thought that people behind Letsfreckle and zepto.js released a 3+ hour workshop for a “bargain” price of US$99 (only for a limited period while in beta) didn’t let me sleep at night. And so I figured I’d better grab a copy before it jumps to insane US$129 in August. (Note that I’m writing it in the dead of September and it’s still in beta.)

What I was welcomed with after unpacking a 1.3Gb archive were 5 video files, a bunch or slides that are shown in the video and several HTML files illustrating the topics. Don’t get me wrong, I like video… and audio for that matter, but this masterpiece couldn’t get any worse. Really. Let me elaborate on that.

I first thought it was something with codecs on my laptop – video hung for a few seconds every now and then, jumped ahead skipping several phrases only to get stuck again… over and over throughout all 3 hours of material. I personally couldn’t watch a single section in one take. My head went spinning after several minutes. It looked like they recorded remote workshop session through Skype as-is, with all glitches and artifacts.

It would be OK though, if the quality of the material itself would be at least acceptable, but that’s a whole different ball game. After watching all of it I can tell it with confidence. They took contents section of a book on mobile web development and just commented on each line. Literally, did that and wrapped up. It’s NOT A WORKSHOP at any stretch of imagination. Here’s what they say on their website:

iOS (iPhone & iPad), Android and Palm WebOS Webkit-based browsers, capabilities of HTML5 & making them work for you, touch interfaces, Hardware acceleration & 3D CSS, audio and video, fast loading, cross-browser issues and what works where, going offline and last but not least _making it all AWESOME_.

I tend to agree, they mentioned these topics, but were they covered? Hell, no. Just mentioned in passing. And there’s definitely nothing on making it all AWESOME. No professional tricks on transitions, designing frameworks, UI element graphics tips, background downloads, asynchronous data processing, unblocking GUI when running long jobs in JS by splitting and using timers to schedule chunks, functional programming, project organization, name-spacing, sprites, limitations for asset sizes, their effect on caching and why glueing JS and CSS together doesn’t work all the time, integrating external services, ads and social elements, analytics. I can go on whole day naming what is considered AWESOME and PROFESSIONAL in mobile web development. Any dummy can open an HTML5 spec at W3C and read about Audio / Video and Local Storage / WebSQL. There’s no point in paying US$99 for that. Web is swelling with great articles, tutorials and books on the subject. I can easily name 3 books under US$30 that will pump some REAL professional air into you. I was expecting secrets, tips & tricks, solutions and recipes. Can you imagine a book worth a hundred? It must be made entirely of gold to turn a single head.

Now, it’s not enough to have the material. You also need to like… to be able to like… present it like… in a totally awesome way. It’s not kindergarten any more. Focus and filter your buzz. You are charging crazy money for this, and it’s not even funny when you struggle to put together three words for about a minute, then go completely silent for another 30 seconds while clicking something through and dealing with Skype (yes, we all can recognize those incoming message sounds yet).

Oh, I almost forgot how I enjoyed the product website design. If someone says me this piece of art was designed by the “famousest designer in the Ruby on Rails world” I will “laugh-out-loud” them in a face. My dictionary crashed on “famousest”, but I get the gist of it. Don’t these godlike creatures know that centering the text actually makes it harder to read? Do yourself a favor and grab that excellent “Designing With the Mind in Mind” by Jeff Johnson and read it over the weekend. This is just as embarrassing as it gets.

Finally, a word of advice for those who value their time and money:

Do Not Even Think of Buying.
Totally not worth it.

I’m all ears now…