For the last few years, web developers have been frustrated with the shortcomings in web standards. They turned to third party plugins to deliver a rich and consistent experience. Now that HTML5 is around the corner, many believe it will deliver the needed answers for developers. Here are five things you need to know about this exciting technology:
The work on the next version of web standards began in 2002 with the W3C preparing the XHTML 2.0 specification. The decision to drop HTML and focus on XML-based technologies was not well received by the community. After failing to reach a consensus,representatives of major players like Mozilla, Opera and Apple decided the cease working on the W3C specification and started the WHATWG community in an attempt to push the web standards forward. In 2007, the W3C eventually agreed to adopt the WHATWG work as a starting point to what would become HTML5. The specification is expected to reach the W3C Recommendation stage in 2020 (Yes that’s 8 years from now!).
The latest versions of the major web browsers already support HTML5 to varying extents, even though the specification is not completed yet. Developing with HTML5 is becoming a more viable solution as people are moving on to newer and more capable web browsers. When support to legacy browsers is crucial, developers could resort to fall-back techniques by detecting what features the browser implements/lacks.
Flash has been heavily used to develop cross platform and rich applications. A very obvious example is browser-based games and video players that made Flash the king of RIA. However, lack of support on iOS and security/performance issues have led the community to seek alternatives based on open standards. HTML5 is the perfect answer. With canvas, WebGL, audio and video support, HTML5 will offer developers all the capabilities they need to create games and rich applications. Flash will certainly retain some of it market share for the time being, but its adoption will decrease as HTML5 becomes widely available.
HTML5 is potentiality the first true cross-platform app technology. While solutions exist for desktop environments, mobile developers have suffered from lack of a unified medium to create apps for the major platforms. HTML5 can mend this situations by offering the technologies needed to develop web-based or natively-packaged mobile apps.