Thoughts About HTML5

by jmorris 24. August 2010 14:15

A colleague sent me a link to an HTML5 slide show and I must say that if and when the standard is completed it will offer an amazing cornucopia of web technologies in a single package.  It’s interesting that it’s even called “HTML” at all; it’s really the combination of markup (HTML), presentation and formatting (CSS) and behavior (Javascript API’s) that comprise HTML5. It also strikes me that HTML 4.01 (notice the space between the “L” and the “4”? HTML5 interestingly enough, has no space) was Recommended  by W3C in 1999 and HTML5 specification was started in 2004 and still has not been completed! That aside, with the recent exclusion of flash from Apple IPhone and IPad, interest and demand have taken off for HTML5.

Javascript API’s

HMTL5 offers several new JavaScript API’s that allow developers to do things that were not easily possible on  the browser before: Web Sockets for client server interaction via TCP, Web Storage for storing data on the client browser, a Web SQL Database (yes a local database that is accessed via Javascript directly, so much for SOC!), an Application Cache, Web Workers to provide asynchrony with a language (JS) that does not support multithreading,  a Notification API for broadcasting messages to the client, and a GeoLocation API so that your location can always be known! Additionally there is a new Selectors API and JS Drag and Drop API.

From the offerings above, I can see HTML5 being the killer app for a number of existing web technologies: javascript libraries such as JQuery and Scriptaculus, FLASH/FLEX/AIR/Silverlight as well as methodologies such as Ajax and even proprietary offerings such as LightStreamer.

HTML

HTML5 also extends the extends the existing HTML 4.01 tags with new tags for the semantic web, link relations, Microdata, ARIA attributes (for disability accessibility),  form field types (range, input validation, etc), audio and video (Apple’s big beef), and Canvas for 2D and 3D SVG/WebGL graphics.

CSS

The new CSS extensions include typography enhancements, visuals (columns, textwrapping, rounded corners, etc.) and transitions, animations and transformations (dynamically manipulating DOM elements kinda like some of the JQuery UI features).

Summary

All in all this is an amazing and revolutionary toolkit for developing Web applications and will likely lead the way in what and how we develop in the future. A couple of the features (namely Web SQL and Web Sockets) make ne cringe slightly, in that we know that they will be abused, however the potential here is enormous. it’s also interesting to note, that none of the new features are truly revolutionary by themselves, it’s the standardization which is revolutionary. 

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