Four Reasons to Get Excited by HTML5
It feels like practically every day another company is moving towards HTML5. The Financial Times recently ditched its iPad app and moved its site to HTML5. Microsoft has been showing off Internet Explorer's HTML5 capabilities. And Facebook announced its App Center, a hybrid marketplace showcasing HTML5 apps.
It's time to get excited about HTML5. Why? Developers can create Web apps and sites using many cutting-edge features in HTML5 to mimic the functionality, speed, performance, and experience originally restricted to desktop applications. With HTML5, businesses can look forward to sophisticated Webpages that load faster, fare better with search engines, are optimized for all mobile devices, and are visually attractive. Best of all, businesses will spend less developing sites that can work across practically any platform.
As a developer, four key areas of HTML5 should be of high interest to you.
1. Flash Replacement
2. Faster, Speedy Pages
Not only are the visual effects stunning, using HTML5 means the pages will load much more quickly and be easier to maintain. Before HTML5, Web designers relied on background images to create the proper shading necessary to achieve the Website's ideal look. CSS3 skips the background image entirely by defining the gradients directly within the page. Faster image downloads will make a difference, as studies have shown many users would abandon a site if it's perceived to take too long to display.
HTML5 also uses streamlined code to create custom video players and embed video and audio clips that load faster than comparable Flash versions.
Developers thinking about search-engine optimization (SEO) will love that CSS3 expressions have significant implications for HTML5 pages and applications. Previously, a company could create a splashy logo with its corporate name placed prominently on the Webpage. While it looked great to human eyes, the company name was essentially lost because search engines could not see the text. With CSS3, it's possible to adjust opacity (making the foreground image transparent enough to allow the background to be partially visible) and add 2D and 3D effects to make the page visually appealing, while still maintaining the textual content on the page for search engines.
It seems inevitable that any list touting the benefits of HTML5 will have to talk about the benefits for mobile devices. The faster page-load times mentioned earlier are particularly important for mobile users surfing the Web with reduced bandwidth. Users don't need to worry about installing anything beforehand to access the HTML5 app. Since it is essentially a Website, it is more likely to get picked up by search engines, making it easier for users to find in the first place. The visually appealing animations and slideshows are also less likely to overwhelm mobile browsers in the first place.
It is also much simpler for Web developers to port an HTML5 Web page to properly display on the smaller screen than it is to create a native app from scratch. When using native apps, businesses have to decide which mobile platform to target first, and there is often a several months' lag before other platforms are supported.
Timing is important, too, as is being able to hit all mobile devices, whether it's Windows Phone, iOS, Android, or BlackBerry, can be a business-critical advantage.
Fahmida Y. Rashid is a contributing editor for Slashdot and SourceForge.