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HTML5

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Foundation for the Future

The recent developments around HTML5 include the announcement by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) that the standard is now ‘feature complete’. Note:Whilst ‘feature complete’ might not be fully defined under W3C standards, this standard is sure to be reached and soon.

Notably W3C indicate how these specifications are now feature complete, meaning businesses and developers have a stable target for implementation and planning.

It becomes apparent that the threat to new standards at present is also focused around browser fragmentation but that HTML5 may be used to counteract this in significant ways. Browser fragmentation refers to the different devices and the browsers they may use. Responsive design is one key aspect of HTML5 and browser fragmentation may be seen as its enemy.

HTML5 is the cornerstone of the Open Web Platform, a full programming environment for cross-platform applications with access to device capabilities, video and animations, graphics, style, typography and other tools for digital publishing, extensive network capabilities and more.

Some of the current advantages of HTML5 include:

  • Simple coding for programmers
  • Easier audio and vision support
  • SEO friendliness
  • Responsive design possibilities
  • Location services

Why use HTML5

Accessibility HTML5 makes creating accessible sites easier for two main reasons – semantics and ARIA. The new (some currently available) HTML headings allow screen readers to easily access content. Before, your screen readers had no way to determine what a given heading was even if you assigned it an ID or class. With new semantic tags, screen readers can better examine the HTML document and create a better experience for those who use them.

ARIA is a W3C spec that is mainly used to assign specific ‘roles’ to elements in a HTML document – essentially creating important landmarks on the page such as header, footer, navigation or article, via role attributes. This has been well overlooked and widely under used, mostly due to the fact that it wasn’t valid however, HTML5 will validate these attributes. Additionally, HTML5 will have built in roles that can’t be over-ridden making assigning roles a no brainer. For a more in depth discussion on HTML5 and ARIA please visit the WAI.

Video and Audio Support Forget about Flash Player and other third party media players, make your videos and audio truly accessible with the new HTML5 video and audio tags. Getting your media to play correctly has always been pretty much a nightmare. You had to use the ‘embed’ and ‘object’ tags and assign a huge list of parameters just to get the thing visible and working correctly. Media tags just become these nasty, huge chunks of confusing code segments. HTML5′s video and audio tags basically treat them as images.

Doctype No more cutting and pasting some long unreadable line of code and no more dirty head tags filled with doctype attributes. You can simply and easily type it out and be happy. The really great thing about it though, beyond the simplicity, is that it works in every browser clear back to the dreaded IE6.

Cleaner Code If you are passionate about simple, elegant, easy to read code then HTML5 is the beast for you. HTML5 allows you to write clear and descriptive semantic code that allows you to easily separate meaning from style and content.

Smarter Storage One of the great things about HTML5 is the new local storage feature. It is a little bit of a cross between regular old cookies and a client-side database. It is better than cookies as it allows for storage across multiple windows, has better security and performance and data will persist even after the browser is closed. Because it’s essentially a client side data base you don’t have to worry about the user deleting cookies and it is adopted by all the popular browsers.

Better Interactions We all want a more dynamic website that responds to the user and allows the user to enjoy/interact with your content instead of just looking at it. Enter ‘canvas’, the drawing HTML5 tag that allows you to do most (if not more) interactive and animated possibilities than the previous rich internet application platforms like Flash. Beyond ‘canvas’, HTML5 also comes with a slew of great APIs that allow you to build a better user experience and a beefier, more dynamic web application.

Game Development You can also develop games using HTML5′s ‘canvas’ tag. HTML5 provides a great, mobile friendly way to develop fun, interactive games. If you’ve built Flash games before, you’ll love building HTML5 games.

Legacy/Cross Browser Support Your modern, popular browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, IE9 and Opera) all support HTML5 and the HTML5 doctype was created so that all browsers can use it. As old browsers have the functionality to recognise the doctype, that doesn’t mean they can use all the new HTML5 tags. Fortunately, HTML5 is being built to make things easier and cross browser friendly, so in those older IE browsers that don’t like the new tags, we can just simply add a Javascript shiv that will allow them to use the new elements.

Mobile Mobile technology is very popular these days and the adoption of mobile devices continues to grow very rapidly. This means that more and more users will be using their mobile browsers to view your web site or application. HTML5 is the most mobile ready tool for developing mobile sites and apps. With Adobe announcing the death of mobile Flash, you will now count on HTML5 to do your mobile web application development. Mobile browsers have fully adopted HTML5, so creating mobile ready projects is as easy as designing and constructing for their smaller touch screen displays – hence the popularity of Responsive Design.

The Future The number one reason why you should start using HTML5 today is that it’s the future. HTML5 is not going anywhere and as more and more elements get adopted, more and more companies will start to develop in HTML5.

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