Summary: An in-depth, technical discussion of the mobile state-of-play for web developers, written by one of the most knowledgeable researchers in the field.

Price: $39.00 (print + eBook; buy it from Smashing Magazine)

Earlier this year Smashing Magazine published The Mobile Book, a compendium from some of the best minds in mobile development. This year, the publisher has followed up with a more in-depth volume from a single writer.

If you’ve ever heard Peter-Paul Koch speak about the mobile space, you’ve inevitably come away impressed by the encyclopedic, authoritative knowledge he has. In The Mobile Book he contributed an informative chapter on how the mobile production ecosystem works, from manufacturers to telecom providers to retailers. That content has been significantly expanded upon in The Mobile Web Handbook, and is accompanied by seven completely new chapters.

In my earlier review I described The Mobile Book as being a book that should be provided to every stakeholder during the creation of a mobile site; in contrast, The Mobile Handbook is expressly written for the mobile developer, strategist and designer. It is somewhat unusual in that it presents relatively few code samples, and avoids discussing any specific libraries or build processes: rather, it is a book concerned with thinking about and working with best practices in mobile development, from interaction to structure and delivery. Illustration of CSS pixels from The Mobile Handbook

The book breaks down in logical groups, which map to chapters discussing the mobile world, browsers (with a separate chapter for Android), viewports, CSS, touch and pointer events, becoming a professional mobile developer, and the future of mobile. Every chapter contains a revelation for web developers: the fact that there are three viewports, not one; a perfect viewport meta tag that works on all devices, including IE Mobile; and code that adapts to the strange amalgam of input methods on the current array of devices (touch, keyboard, and mouse).

The lack of code in the book is actually a benefit: I know from experience that code samples are an easy, quick hit to sell a book, but limit the lifecycle of the text to just a few years. Writing about concepts is significantly harder, but much more valuable for the reader. The book also preserves its value by using short URLs to live web pages to track current data and device changes.

If you’re a digital strategist, designer or mobile developer, I would consider The Mobile Web Handbook a required volume on your bookshelf – the printed version promises to have the same excellent binding and presentation as its predecessor. Like The Mobile Book, the Mobile Web Handbook is a volume that will be consulted over years.

Full disclosure: I work for Smashing Magazine as a Contributing Editor, and received a digital review copy of this book.