What is HTML5?
Earlier today apple unveiled its HTML 5 showcase. The showcase covers Video, Typography, Gallery, Transitions, Audio, 360 views and Virtual Reality examples. This marks a continued campaign against the current provider of most of these types of content, Adobe’s Flash. If you haven’t read Steve Jobs’ open letter to the community on the topic of Flash, check it out. It makes some interesting points.
Personally, it is my opinion that Flash is a dying commodity and that open standards are always going to prevail over closed technologies when it comes to the web. So it’s time to give a quick run down of HTML 5. I also threw in a good deal of opinion, as after all, this is a blog. Read on for more.
HTML is the high level programming (or markup) language that all content on the web is based on. Right now standard HTML-4 (the current version) does not have the ability to provide a “rich” media experience to the end users of the web. For years we have been relying on a commercial venture, Flash, that fills this gap for us. However, the problems long associated with Flash are memory consumption, stability and the fact that it is a closed (as in proprietary) technology. You get the gist. Flash is owned by one single company. That is not typically how the web works. Way back when, the web started as a set of open standards and history shows that it will ultimately continue to operate under these principles.
Undeserving Market Dominance
Right now, nearly all video content you watch in your browser is courtesy of Flash. A lot of websites also depend on Flash for navigation. Sounds great, but problems start to arise with the advent of new technologies. If you are a manufacturer of consumer electronics hoping to bring to market a small device that intends to allow its users to watch video over the web, you are out of luck. In today’s world, in order to provide this functionality, you need to convince Adobe to port flash to your system. There is no incentive for Adobe to port their software to your “up and coming” device. It is going to cost them money, which they aren’t willing to spend. Well, surely Adobe can just release the specifications necessary for people to write their own implementation of Flash? Nope. Adobe is also not going to allow for that either, so they end up with a (intentional or not) dominance on content delivery over the internet. HTML 5 sets out to deliver on all of the gaps that the (aging) HTML4 has presented us with. It’s scaring the pants off of Adobe. They can’t stop it and anything they do is ultimately going to just prolong it’s inevitable death.
By far the largest threat the to Flash stronghold is HTML5′s ability to playback video. Now, rather than adding a Flash program to your site, or embedding a third party video player, a web developer can include a video with the tag. This is an easier process in leaps and bounds than using Flash. There are many different ways to play back both audio and video so the technology is not yet perfect. It will take some time for everyone out there to settle on the details, but eventually you will see that video comes to you via your browser and not a third party program. youtube is already on board and currently you can view their content in HTML5 on your mac with Safari or Google Chrome. Firefox and Internet Explorer support is on the way.
Canvas based page design.
HTML5 includes modernized organization or “structure” elements that allow for web designers to better target their content for a desired audience. Ultimately the search engines (google) are going to be able to index data in an even more targeted manner so that you as a web user will be able to find information quicker than ever before.
Less resources necessary/more integrated
As computers become smaller and smaller (iPhone/iPad), computing efficiently is becoming more important than ever. HTML5 is technology that will be built right into your browser so there will be no need for your computer to start up an additional application just to view rich content. Browser developers now have the ability to test the entire web browsing experience during the QA process so that we all end up with less crashes!
Sit back and enjoy the show. There will be many more attempts by Adobe to convince people and companies to stick with Flash. It should make for excellent news stories but at the end of the day, you might as well get used to HTML5, its here to stay.