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Learning HTML5 Game Programming: A Hands-on Guide to Building Online Games Using Canvas, SVG, and WebGL [Kindle Edition]

James L. Williams
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £21.99
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Book Description

This is the eBook version of the printed book.

Get Started Fast with HTML5 Online Game Programming!


HTML5 will transform web and mobile gaming. As new browsers rapidly adopt it, HTML5 will do everything “legacy” technologies such as Flash and Silverlight have done—and much more. In Learning HTML5 Game Programming, pioneering developer James L. Williams gives you all the knowledge, code, and insights you’ll need to get started fast!


Williams combines detailed explanations of HTML5’s key innovations with examples, including two case study applications that address the entire development process. He guides you through setting up a state-of-the-art HTML5 development environment; making the most of HTML5’s canvas tag, SVG vector graphics, and WebGL 3D; and targeting diverse mobile and social platforms. It’s all here: from the essentials of online game design to the nitty-gritty details of performance optimization.


About the Website


All code samples and answers to chapter exercises are available for download on Github at


Coverage includes

·          Understanding the HTML5 innovations that make it possible to create amazingly rich games

·          Setting up a state-of-the-art open source HTML5 game development environment

·          Using JavaScript to drive sophisticated interactions between users and games

·          Building basic games fast, with the prototype-based Simple Game Framework (SGF)

·          Generating movement and gameplay with the canvas tag and surface

·          Creating games with SVG vector graphics using the RaphaëlJS Javascript library

·          Using Three.js to build powerful WebGL 3D games with far less complexity

·          Developing games without JavaScript, using Google Web Toolkit (GWT) or CoffeeScript

·          Building a complete multiplayer game server using Node.js and WebSockets

·          Planning and choosing tools for mobile game development with HTML5

·          Optimizing game performance with offline cache, minification, and other techniques


Learning HTML5 Game Programming is the fastest route to success with HTML5 game development—whether you’re a long-time game developer or a web/mobile programmer building games for the first time.


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Product Description

About the Author

James L. Williams is an experienced Silicon Valley developer and speaker who has presented worldwide on Java, user interfaces, and game programming. He created SwingXBuilder, a domain-specific language for creating user interfaces utilizing SwingX components, and is co-despot of Griffon, a framework for building rich applications with Groovy. While riding a coach bus to South by Southwest Interactive (SXSW), he and his team conceived, coded, and created a winning product in the StartupBus 2011 competition.

Product details

More About the Author

James Williams is a developer based in Silicon Valley and frequent conference speaker. He is a co-creator of the Griffon project, a rich desktop framework for Java applications. He and his team WalkIN, created a product on a coach bus while riding to SXSW, and were crowned winners of StartupBus 2011.

He is the author of the upcoming book "Learning HTML5 Game Programming..." for Addison-Wesley. He blogs at and tweets as @ecspike.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars concise and well written 6 Jan. 2012
Disclosure: I have written this review having received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher.
This title is a timely introduction to an area of growing significance. HTML5 starts to resolve issues of application development both on the web and on devices. By implementing interfaces in HTML and Javascript, a wide compatability layer is leveraged. So what could be more cutting edge in this area than game development in HTML5 ? Games are a challenging application of the technology, so this is a great and fun way to learn more.
This may interest both game developers looking for new opportunities, as well as web developers expanding their HTML5 knowlege.

In this book the author introduces the new HTML5 technologies and their historical context. Then chapter 2 advises on tools to download and install. In chapter 3 Javascript is covered from the basics of the language to related frameworks, such as jQuery as well as server side environments. For readers with web development knowlege, this concise coverage should be mostly a common knowlege. Anyone new to the topics would be advised to research further, and I would suggest deeper learning of Javascript. However in chapter 8 alternatives to Javascript are presented - effectively compiling to javascript.

In chapter 4, ambitiously titled "how games work" the author focusses on an example using a javascript framework (simple game framework) and covers topics related to game development including for example game physics. Again, some readers with background in games will already be au fait with all this, but otherwise the reader would do well to further research approaches to game design and development.

Following chapters cover canvas, SVG, and WebGL; each using relevant frameworks, and with good advice.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Covers a lot of ground, but often brief & sloppy 29 Oct. 2012
By Mr. D. N. Sumption VINE VOICE
This book is a great introduction to game programming for anyone who already has some relevant experience (particularly good HTML experience or similar technologies such as ActionScript). It covers a great deal of ground, and manages to give a fair amount of background on each. However, it's a bit sloppily written, with the author often skipping between topics without explaining what new assumptions he is making. For this reason, I can easily see a beginner to HTML5 or game programming being confused by much in the book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2.9 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good book on HTML5 Game Programming 21 Nov. 2011
By Andrew J. Indovina - Published on
Since April 2011, I've been exploring developing games utlizing HTML5 out of interest.

My resource from this time on has been what others have posted on the Internet.
I was excited to hear about the book "Learning HTML5 Game Programming" and even more excited to read it.

Below is my brief analysis of every chapter, but overall I found this book to be quite value to anyone interested in learning HTML5 programming but haven't really explored it, they should really get this book. I am not a professional HTML5 game developer, but as a hobbyiest I found this quite beneficial. It is well written, well organized, and covers what I feel are very important topics. Compared to what books that are currently out there, this is definitley one of best books to get on this subject to my knowledge.

Chapter 1, "Introducting HTML5", give a nice history of
Web technologies and a nice background of the
technologies through the years. While it's not necessary
to read, it is well worth reading.

Chapter 2, "Setting Up Your Development Environment", is
a very welcome and much needed chapter. While most books
would brush over this topic, this book does the courtesy
of dedicating a chapter to setting up the development
environment! On top of an entire chapter, he graciously
suggests free tools to use. As a developer, nothing is
more frustrating than struggling with your development
environment instead of doing actual development! I find
this chapter VERY valuable.

Chapter 3, "Learning JavaScript" is a nice chapter and
should speak well to beginners that want to make games
but don't know JavaScript so well. What's nice is he also
covers learning JQuery, JQuery with AJAX, and JSON. This
is valuable and I think it's part of the thoroughness of
the book. I also appreciate how he discusses client side
and server side JavaScript.

Chapter 4, "How Games Work", may be the most overlooked
chapter by wanna-be game developers who mistakenly think
"I know all about games". I cannot express enough how
important I think writing a game design document can be,
and thankfully he covers it. In addtion, he covers
Resources API and Networking APIs, which is also very
It is this chapter where goes through life cycle of
developing a Pong game, and then Tic-Tac-Toe, classic
examples, but they work well.

Chapter 5, "Creating Games With The Canvas Tag", is
really the heart of the book, which is appropriate
because I believe the Canvas object is the heart and soul
of HTML5 games. He covers all the basic canvas options
you will need, and even 'Creates a Parallax Effect'
Sound is covered this same chapter. Normally most books
dedicate an entire chapter to sound, but it is still
covered well. MIDI Files are utilized and multiple sounds
are covered as well.

I should also state that practically every chapter has
examples and code samples. These can also be downloaded
where applicable.

Chapter 6, "Creating Games with SVG (Scalable Vector
Graphics) and RaphealJS". In this chapter a card game is
developed for examples and it is quite interesting.
Those interested in this type of development should be
find this chapter a welcome addition.

Chapter 7, "Creating Games with WebGL and Three.js" is
beneficial for those that want to use 3D objects and
extended graphic libraries. Its a good read about
rendering, texturing, particle systems, and real-world

Chapter 8, "Creating Games Without JavasScript" is
exactly what it says. While it's something I wasn't
considering, I find I might want to explore. It utilizes
GWT Widgets (Google Web Toolkit).
It also explores CoffeeScript a bit, then briefly
mentions Cappuccino and Pyjamas

Chapter 9, "Building a Multiplayer Game Server", is a
great read. It covers this indepth and is a lengthy
chapter, as it should be. It goes as far as covering the
'Game Lobby' and covering the use of Web Sockets.

Chapter 10, "Developing Mobile Games", is one of the
longest chapters. It is a topic that could be it's own
book itself, but it's covered quite well here. It's a good read if you are new and interested in developing mobile games, this is the one chapter you should check out.

Chapter 11, "Publishing Your Games", is the final chapter of the book and fittingly so. It talks about how to setup your game so that it runs offline for performance, hosting your own server, publishing applications on the Chrome Web Store. This isn't a chapter that is quickly written, but covers many of the areas of publishing. It's really worth your time to give this chapter much attention once you get to the point of publishing.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a learn-while-doing book. Requires big existing knowlege base 10 April 2012
By Kitt - Published on
I'm currently up to chapter 4 and my conclusion is that this book is either not very helpful for learning or that it is aimed at a very specialized audience that is not me. It may be for people who are already very experienced with web development and therefore assumes that you know a lot about other related subjects already. Many things are just skimmed over without any explanation of what they are. It's also possible that it's more appropriate for people accustomed to creating web games using Flash who just need to know the specific comparable HTML5 tools. Either way, if you're starting from scratch this book isn't going to be particularly comprehensible.

This book tells you ABOUT its topic but doesn't teach you how to do it. If you're happy just downloading the accompanying files and reading them along with the book as a learning technique then you'll like this book. If you want more hands-on how and why this is not that book.

In addition, the book isn't set up particularly well as a learning reference. For example it's very acronym-heavy but if you don't remember what a particular acronym stands for it's usually not referenced properly in the index so you're left guessing.

I went back and got "Head First HTML5 Programming" instead as it has more of a step-by-step instructional approach.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Intro to a Tough Topic 26 Oct. 2011
By Tim Wright - Published on
I picked up this book with the intention of gaining some knowledge about WebGL and that's exactly what is gave me. The topic alone is very difficult to teach to a Web audience that probably doesn't have a whole lot of experience dealing with graphics card interaction.

The book latched onto a specific library which, I agree, does date it slightly. But the library components use are things that I certainly would not want to build myself although there is great value in examining the guts of any code-base. I felt that the author did a good job explaining that libraries are not always the answer but in the few cases of Vertex and Frame buffers, its probably best to grab something pre-built and learn the basics.

I certainly got what I was looking for out of the book and if was presented in a consumable format (short book).
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good overview for those starting with HTML5 ! 22 Nov. 2011
By Oliver - Published on
At first a little disappointed by this book, as I found it maybe too much scattered (covering too much topics), I finally found it very useful as it actually allowed me to expand my field of knowledge on each of the subjects. For sure this book do not provide any ancient secret knowledge to become a guru, but it will however show you the magic, and how to use it with some real examples. Which at the end is more than enough to give you a first overview of the various possibilities around HTML5.

So would I recommend this book ? If you are an advanced JS/HTML5 developer looking to push your knowledge further : maybe not. But if you don't have a clue about how to start with HTML5, this book will come very handy in giving you the right kickstart to get you up and running in no times.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Missing Manual I've been Looking For! 9 Jan. 2012
By claudezachary - Published on
I often have one of two issues for most programming books.

1) It's too long for me to read while running 3 businesses

2) It's too concise to be of real use (i.e. - ill just learn via google or stackoverflow)

Learn HTML5 Game programming was a happy compromise where it is a quick read at ~200 pages yet chock full of relavent information. One note - don't be mislead by the title, HTML5 game programming covers a variety of additional topics including jquery, node.js, Phonegap, and all the "other" little bits that are needed to make HTML5 a truly feasible tool for flash replacement. Best of all - you learn via examples (i.e. Pong).

For someone who is too busy to read volumes on what is capable w HTML5, yet likes to stay relavent and on the cutting edge, this book it a must read...
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