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Nine Things You Want to Know about HTML5

by | Nov 20, 2014

  1. Breathe easier – the HTML5 standard is now finalized. It took only 15 years.
  2. Fortunately, the benefits of HTML5 (including the ability to zoom and rotate images), have been with us for a number of years. Browser developers didn’t wait for the committee.
  3. So, if I’m a browser user, is the standard finalization important? Not really, since most users are working with browsers that already support all the popular features even if they’re not fully HTML5 compliant. However, if you have special HTML5 requirements, you should be aware that there are differences between browsers. Google Chrome, at least by some measures, leads the pack with HTML5 compatibility. Firefox is close behind, as is Opera. Internet Explorer and Safari are lagging behind.
  4. If I am a browser development company, is this important? Again, not really, since what I need to care about is my users: what do they want to do with my browser and will my browser serve their purposes? User needs are driving browser requirements a lot faster than any standards body can move. This is usually true for any rapidly evolving technology.
  5. What if I’m a browser application developer – should I care? Well, not about the standardization, but certainly about the power to offer my applications to any device that can run a browser. We’re not just talking about any desktop/laptop/server, but also any smartphone or tablet (and even more esoteric devices). If the device has a browser that runs HTML5, it can run my applications!
  6. If I’m using HTML5 apps with JavaScript (a language used for web pages in addition to HTML), do I need to care about which browser I use? Yes, because not only are there differences in HTML5 support between browsers, but there are also differences with Javascript, CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) and SVG (scalable vector graphics). Again, for many users, all browsers will work, but for those with special requirements, beware of the differences. (You can perform a web search for differences by browser type and version number regarding HTML5 and your other requirements.)
  7. HTML technology has been driven and continues to be driven in many directions as web applications expand and target devices proliferate. Two important and demanding requirements that expand the HTML envelope are touch input and the varying shapes and sizes of displays on smartphones, tablets and more unique devices. Special functions need to be available in a browser to support all those needs.
  8. Cross platform application support is another desirable HTML benefit. It allows application designers to offer users the ability to use the same apps on their computers and on their mobile devices. HTML5 and Javascript are already being embraced for their support of cross platform applications where the browser can provide a full computing environment for the application to run. Similar to Java application cross platform benefits, it is increasingly the case that you can run your “apps” on any browser, whether it’s Microsoft, Apple, Google Android or another operating system. )
  9. One of the drawbacks to browser applications in the past has been the inability to work with text-based documents at all zoom levels. This meant that users needed to install special purpose applications like Adobe Acrobat or Flash, Java applets, or other custom software to make working with documents possible. However, with the increasing desire for simplified web access to documents (minimal installation requirements on client systems) the search was on for totally browser based solutions. With the advent of SVG support in browsers, as well as specialized document processing on servers, documents can now be viewed in high resolution at any zoom level within any browser. Just another reason why HTML5 is so important.

Because HTML, and particularly HTML5, is so integral to an entire revolution of how we socially interact and how we do business using the web, it is valuable to understand it. Like computers, cell phones, smartphones, the internet and more, these devices and technologies are transforming how we live… and we are right in the middle of it. It’s an exciting time.