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.