What is HTML5?
HTML5 is a programming language used for structuring and presenting content accessed on the World Wide Web. Originally proposed by Opera Software, HTML5 is a core technology of the Internet. As it’s name might suggest, HTML5 is the fifth iteration of the HTML standard and as of November 2011, is still under active development. The primary goals of HTML5 are to improve the language and support for the latest and greatest multimedia, all while keeping it easy to read by humans as well as consistently understood by computers and mobile devices alike.
As simple as it sounds, HTML5 is just HTML. In essence, HTML, or Hyper Text Markup Language, is the foundation for which every site is built on the internet. The difference between this version of HTML and earlier versions is its new features, one of which eliminates the need for processor-intensive add-ons and plugins. Just as browsers upgrade from 1.0, 2.0 and so on, HTML also advances as the Web grows.
HTML4 launched in 1997 but was reconfigured to handle the demands of modern websites. Because HTML4 was limited in its functions, it was altered beyond its initial purpose. It does bring users more interactivity and multimedia but at the cost of sluggish page loads and errors.
HTML4 has to reach for Flash or Silverlight to display video or play music, but this method is outdated with the new HTML 5 design. All that is required to embed audio or video on a web page is audio and video HTML tags. Using simplified tags makes web application design much easier on developers, and users will also notice that uploading YouTube videos to a blog is quick and painless.
Computer users are spreading the word about HTML5, but most people really have no clue what it is. Understandably, explaining something in terms of code can confuse anyone who is not a developer, programmer or web designer. However, even as a casual internet user, it is important to understand how something works in order to appreciate how those YouTube videos, graphics and applications work on the screen.
In order to give internet users a better experience, the web has to adapt to new technologies. When it does not, errors occur and web pages render incorrectly or take up too many resources. Developers created plugins such as Silverlight and Flash to make up for the inefficiency of HTML code and to add more media integration to the internet.
For developers who understand HTML4, the transition to the newest HTML is simple; after all, it is easier to use and more robust than the previous version. In addition, professional web developers can code websites using the new HTML while maintaining backwards compatibility for users with older web browsers.
Most Prominent HTML 5 Features
The canvas element is used for rendering game graphics and other visual imagery in real-time. Users can play high-quality 2D and 3D games directly in the browser without the need for add-ons.
With the new video element, it’s possible to show videos online without the need for third-party plugins such as Adobe Flash and Apple QuickTime. Users will no longer have to download add-ons, drivers or other plugins to view videos.
Most websites can track a user’s location already using IP address detection; however, it’s not always the most reliable means. Geolocation offers an alternate method for detecting a user’s location simply by using Wi-Fi towers and GPS.
Offline Web Applications
Even when offline or a network connection is unavailable, users can interact with web applications such as Google Docs and email services. Once online, it’s easy to sync the changes and carry on with business as usual.
Other features of HTML 5 include:
- Cross-document messaging
- Audio element
- Drag and drop
- Expanded form options
- CSS use on new elements
- New text API for canvas
- WYSIWYG editable elements
Every feature offers something new for developers and users alike. Elements are added and removed from a page using drag and drop, and users can play sound on web pages without a plugin. It is possible to implement SVG tads directly in HTML documents, and users can add, edit and delete text and graphics easier than before.
Of course, the use of these new features depends heavily on a web browser’s compatibility. Browsers such as Firefox 4+ and Chrome support most of the HTML 5 features, while Internet Explorer 9, Safari and Opera are still catching up.
Benefits of HTML 5 Design
Thanks to the new HTML language, web application design is much easier for developers and bloggers. One major benefit of using the improved HTML is to create a smarter, more intuitive internet experience for users. Developers can create more personalized applications that work across devices such as the computer and smartphone.
In fact, these advanced HTML 5 features are available across all mobile browsers supporting the new language. Even mobile web browsers drain battery life because of Flash and other add-ons and plugins, so developers can focus on mobile web design without having to worry about coding for the plugin. Adobe announced it would abandon Flash on mobile platforms, which shows the significant impact that HTML5 has gained since its debut.
Another benefit of using the new HTML language is that it does not rely on the phone’s chips, graphical cards or other components the way that native apps do. In addition, a modern browser equipped with the new programming language takes advantage of super fast 4G and LTE networks. Users can access videos quicker and stream music without the need for a separate application.
Despite what some developers believe, the improved HTML language is catching up to the functionality of native apps. Once fully implemented, it could completely replace the need for native apps altogether. As it stands now, the newest HTML supports:
- Touch and gestural interfaces
- Photo capture
- Graphical video games and FX
- Visual scale
- Sustained playback for audio/video
While native apps are still popular right now, the newest HTML is closing the gap on what it can offer the user. Developers working in mobile web design can get a head start by creating upgraded mobile web apps for clients that are easy to access and use. For web design, the introduction of the new HTML language means easier search engine recognition. With the advanced audio, video, graphics and animation elements, it improves the speed at which web pages are loaded.
Whether it is the user or the developer, there are many benefits to using the newest HTML language. While users will experience a visually appealing website from either the computer or mobile device, developers will have an easier time creating websites from scratch. However, not all browsers are able to support the new HTML fully, which means it still has catching up to do with native apps. Once it is fully implemented, users will see no difference between an HTML app and a native application.
The newest upgrade to HTML gives users a better experience with improved search results, quicker page loads and enhanced audio and video. Developers can use the new HTML for mobile web, web applications and computer browsers. Although the new HTML has yet to be fully implemented and most browsers are still working out the kinks, HTML 5.0 looks to revolutionize how people access their favorite websites and web applications.