I can’t wait until 2023. The HTML5 specification will finally be complete and all browser-makers will know precisely what it is and it can be uniformly implemented.

Until then, things are going to be a little… rocky.

There’s no problem with HTML5 now. Nor do I expect any. I love HTML5, and we use it extensively in our products here at Wapple, both as a GUI publishing tool and the engine that delivers sites to all mobile devices.

No, the rockiness I predict comes from above. The issue is that very few people really know what HTML5 is, what it does or what it actually means.

On the top floors of skyscrapers worldwide, top level executives herald it as the solution to everything: “We need to make our site render on desktops, tablets, cellphones and browsers built into public restrooms – let’s use HTML5!” they bellow, slapping each other on the back in bewildered admiration.

“Our customers demand rich media animation even on an iPad, build it in HTML5!” they squawk, with nervous excitement.

“We want users to stream their webcam straight back to us, break out the HTML5!” they shriek.

They punch the air and stamp in tribal rhythm through the boardroom floor. The vibrations of management vision and decision throb downwards past marketing, past finance and HR all the way to the developers in the dungeon.

Now the developers are also talking about HTML5 and what it means for them: “Oh wow, now I can do that without using Javascript” they write on a forum.

You see, HTML5, while great, is not the answer to everything. It is a normalisation of things we can already do. It is a standardisation, or at least it will be. It is a modernisation that throws out some of the old stuff that never worked very well.

But right now there is a ton of misinformation floating about. If you think that it allows Flash-style animation then you are very wrong. It’s not your fault, it’s all down to Steve Jobs.

In his open letter trash talking Adobe, Jobs says that HTML5 negates the very purpose of Flash. It doesn’t. He was just abusing his status as cult leader to push product on the masses, some of whom were showing slight signs of dissent.

What Jobs did was let the genie out of the bottle too early. No, scratch that, that suggests that the genie was perfectly formed in the bottle to begin with. No, he spoilt a surprise too early and got everyone excited well before the event.

There are challenges ahead. Browsers are supporting different pieces of HTML5 at different rates. And that’s just the mark-up. The API part of its specification is concerned with the add-on bits.

The geo-location, the local storage and so on. That’s even worse.

And what good is this if we’re all suddenly having to consider browser support again?

I thought we’d reached a happy place where we knew that 99% of browsers used Flash and iE6 was as bad as it got. Now we’re fragmenting the user base again. Oh, you might not realise it now but that’s going to hurt in the medium term.

I guess what I’m saying it don’t get caught up in hype that you don’t truly understand. Reality-check things with the technical heads who really understand. In fact, don’t trust the opinion of anyone who hasn’t ever coded something. Seriously.

Rich Holdsworth

Published 6 July, 2011 by Rich Holdsworth

Rich Holdsworth is CTO and Co-Founder at Wapple and a contributor to Econsultancy.

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Comments (4)



2023.... Right. Perhaps it was right to let the genie out of the bottle early. This way we might actually have a chance for this standardisation/modernization to happen sooner rather than later!

about 7 years ago


Rich Holdsworth

Not sure if you believe the date of 2023 - go look it up.
Question for you - do you think we are seeing standardization with HTML5? And what influence to you think 'we' have over the implementation?

about 7 years ago


Dale Cruse

"And what good is this if we’re all suddenly having to consider browser support again?"

That's a pretty weak argument, in my opinion. When, precisely, did we ever NOT have to consider browser support?

about 7 years ago


Paul Irish

Pretty dangerous to discount other people's voices when your own authority on this subject is so questionable. :/

Your primary concern seems to be browser support in most cases there is a solution which handles the features in cases where there isn't native support.

So the reality is that anyone waiting till 2023 missed the boat.

about 7 years ago

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