The buzz around HTML5 has grown over the last few years and seems to have accelerated recently as the widely adopted use of mobile devices has prompted companies to consider their own strategies for delivering a mobile experience to their unique user base. The conventional wisdom states that the trend toward HTML5 started when Apple’s iPhone first entered the market without the ability to deploy Flash on the device. This paved the way for a surge in interest in HTML5 as a possible replacement (somewhat misplaced) for the rich interactivity, animation and multi-media capabilities of Flash.
The latest murmurs seem to revolve around the use of HTML5 for web applications that can substitute for a native device based app, primarily in order to a) bypass the closed ecosystem / gatekeepers of the native app stores and b) provide a more immediate experience to a user to interact with the application directly through the browser vs. the barrier to entry intrinsic in the downloading / installing process with a native app.
Ok that’s all well and good, but what is it about HTML5 specifically that promises to be this Holy Grail on the web, what exactly is it and really why should I care? Because I like to write for clients, other designers or beginning web design / developers, let me just say this; HTML5 is really just HTML with a little more succinct organization scheme, a few bell and whistle additions, and a great logo.
A few of the bells and whistles I mentioned that are part of the spec of HTML5 are features such as GEO location, off-line database storage, more robust form behavior and elements, and more semantically useful page markup. In addition, there is support for audio and video without the need for a 3rd party plugin (such as Flash, Quicktime, Windows Media Player, etc), and the addition of the canvas element, which allows for the rendering of graphic elements – programable, interactive elements – directly on the page.
All of these technologies work well together and seem to be developing and improving in tandem, so it makes sense to assume that they will play an important part in web development in the future. But it is important to understand that these are what make up the enriched interactive experiences that we are using instead of Flash, instead of native apps, so as to demystify the hype around HTML5. If anything, these are becoming more of the standard tools in front-end web development as opposed to the novelty.