HTML5

Recently I have studied into HTML5.  HTML5 looks promising.
So just what is HTML5 better than what we are using now.  HyperText Markup Language was originally designed to allow for formatting of documents and hyperlinking these documents together.  Before this this we had an experimental network (which became the Internet) where you could store documents.  These documents were simply text pages.  This was like the typewriter age.  The information was there but it was difficult to find the important parts of the document.  You could not emphasize things with larger fonts, bold type, or italics.  If you had a related document is was difficult to show the relationship between these documents.  You could include the cryptic code that was used to find this document on the network.  In came HyperText Markup Language.  Now you can format your text with markups that allow you to change the type face.  With HyperText you could specify text in your document that was linked to your related document.  Now you could mention the title or the subject of your related document, the reader simply had to click on these words and they were now reading your related document.  This allows you to create a web of documents that are available to the world, World Wide Web.

This worked well but there were difficulties that were encountered.  A picture was worth a thousand words, as the network became faster the demand to include images increased.  It was also difficult to maintain a consistent look and feel for your webpages.  The markup language allows you to format your text but you have to be meticulous to make sure all of the tags were the same or things looked differently.  On came Images and Cascading Style Sheets to tame the web.  The quality of the documents improved dramatically.  People could easily create documents with high graphic impact, and could be consistent with CSS.

The web started to change.  People were used to using interactive programs on their desktop.  These had easy to understand graphical interface.  The world wide web provided documents that were interrelated but these documents just did not work like desktop applications.  Also the web lacked motion, things were pretty static.

This left open a couple techniques for improving the user experience.  Java script was used to allow for local interaction with web pages.  This provides a better user interaction that posting to the server and reloading the information.  AJAX was created to allow your java scripts to directly interact with the server to give you a better user experience.  Macromedia creates a browser adding called shockwave (later known as Flash) that would allow you to run a program with in the browser to give you interactions more like a local machine.  One of the most common uses for this was to play video content on a web page.  This gave a good user experience but it was not really part of the web page but appeared that way to the user.  A subtile difference but a difference.

Enter HTML5

HTML5 contains several new components.

With HTML5 video is just considered part of the content like images and text.  Video is now handled in the browser in a standard way.  You no longer need to create the video especially for your website, you just use standard encoding techniques.  You no longer need to worry if you have a flash plug-in that works with your new browser.  It is designed to just work within the standards that all the browser follow.

The user interface components that build on AJAX to give you an enhanced user experience.  The thought is to give you much more like a desktop application experience through a web browser.  Some companies offered this but normally they could only offer this through some non-standard features that were not available on all browsers, this is why your banking site would only work with Internet Explorer.  By adding these features to the standard, now we should start to see this functionality offered on all browsers.

What is the catch.

HTML5 is an emerging standard, nothing is really set in stone.  What works today may be changed tomorrow.  It is good for experimenting but not really useful for production at this time.

Only a few of the latest browser version work with HTML5.  This means is you created a HTML5 site today most people could not use it, only those with Chrome, Safari or the latest version of Firefox would see your site.  It will take years for everyone to upgrade to a HTML5 compatible browser.

Most users do not code HTML.  They use a program such as Dreamweaver, or a web application like WordPress that allows you to add your content to a web page.  This means we will not be using HTML5 until all the applications are updated.

Conclusion – HTML5 looks like it will add a great deal of standardized functionality but it is not here yet.  We need to keep our eyes on the future, to know how things work, but HTML5 has little impact on our current Web life.

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