The HTML5 Diaries – Part 0 – Getting Started

Hello all! If you’re reading this, I’m going to assume you’re planning to take the Microsoft HTML5, CSS3 and Javascript certification (70-480). The next few blog posts are basically going to be a restructuring of all the notes I’ve taken whilst doing the online course, along with a few other titbits of information I think are worth sharing. But for now, I’m going to talk about registering for the course, revising and setting up your development environment.

Registering For The Exam

So, Microsoft have these new fangled Microsoft Surface tablets out. And by all accounts, they’re very pretty indeed. I must confess that I almost certainly will get one in the new year. Windows RT can only run Metro applications developed in C/C++/VB/C#/HTML5.  This means that aren’t a great deal of apps available. Naturally, Microsoft is eager to change that.

So, as of this moment (27/11/2012), Microsoft are paying for the exams of anyone who wants to get certified. That is an amazing deal, as professional IT certifications can often cost hundreds of pounds.

You’ll have to book fairly sharpish though, because there’s a limited supply of seats available. To book, register at Prometric here, using the code HTMLJMP. I’ve had friends successfully book seats in Switzerland, the UK and the US with this code, so it appears to work worldwide.

Once you’ve booked your exam, you should get an email with all the important details like where you have to go, and what time you need to show up. It’s also important to bring proof of identity with you, when you take your exams. This could be a drivers license or a passport along with a credit or debit card .

Setting Up Your Development Environment

Despite Windows 7 having the largest market share of any operating system, you cannot develop HTML5 apps for Windows 8 using it. Yep. If you want to start coding for Surface, you’re going to bid adieu to your start menu and say hello to Metro.

But, wait. Does this mean that you need to buy Windows 8? Well, no. Microsoft is kind enough to give away free copies of their new Operating System to developers and people who just want to try it out. The catch is that it expires after 90 days. Boo. Still, if you don’t mind the hassle rebuilding your development environment every 3 months, you can save a fair chunk of change.

You’re also going to have to use the latest and greatest version of Visual Studio (2012). Yes, it’s ugly as sin, but at least the express version is free. It’s probably worth pointing out that if you’re currently in higher education, you can get Visual Studio 2012 Professional for free through Microsoft’s Dreamspark program.

The Online Training

Most of the course material can be found on the Microsoft Virtual Academy or CodePlex. The course itself is delivered by video and is taught by Jeremy Foster and Michael Palermo. They are both fairly interesting, engaging guys and they clearly know their stuff.

There’s not a lot to write about here. You can watch the lessons in your browser (I watched in Chrome on Linux). You can download them as MP4 or WMV. Fairly standard stuff.

The course is split up into six modules. At the end of each module, there’s a short self-assessment quiz. Nothing too strenuous and it won’t count towards the exam you’ll eventually take at a Prometric center. It’s just there to see if you understood the module that you had just studied.


The course assumes a basic knowledge of HTML4/XHTML. If you honestly have no idea how to make a web page, and have no idea how HTML works or just need a bit of a refresher, I can’t recommend HTML & CSS by Jon Duckett enough. This book is a friendly introduction to web design and is ideal for beginners. It’s also gotten some positive reviews. It’s also nothing like most technical books and is absolutely beautifully presented.

If you’re so inclined, you can pick up a copy here. And yes. That is a referral link. Judge me.

And that’s all you’ll need to get started. The next blog post will discuss the first module which covers the semantic structure of the HTML 5 language. You can read it here. 

Do you want to develop for Windows 8? Are you going to do this certification? Let me know in the comments below.

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About Matthew Hughes

Matthew Hughes is a software developer, student and freelance writer from Liverpool, England. He is seldom found without a cup of strong black coffee in his hand and absolutely adores his Macbook Pro and his camera. You should follow him at @matthewhughes.


  1. Great to hear you’re teaching this class. I think I noticed an error in your post though (unless I misunderstood):

    “The only downside (unless you’re using the Surface Pro tablet) is that all applications need to be written in HTML5, CSS3 and Javascript rather than in C++, C# or Visual Basic.Net”

    You actually have the choice of writing your windows store app in HTML5/CSS3/Javascript or C#/XAML or C++ (with optional XAML).

    Looking forward to learning about HTML5! 🙂

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