Why HTML 5 is the most important standard

By Prakash Advani Published Date
14 - Sep - 2011
| Last Updated
14 - Sep - 2011
Why HTML 5 is the most important standard
Since the time the HTML standard was created, people have been expecting it to be the defacto standard for application development. While it did help simplify many things, it had its own limitations. To address some of these limitations, Java was created. While Java solved some, it also had its own limitations and required a JVM to be installed on each device. Javascript and AJAX also solved several of those challenges and are still being used widely for rich applications. Although many solutions tried to solve some of these challenges; in terms of rich applications, they were no where compared to client-server based applications which form the bulk of applications that we use today. Flash and Adobe Air were able to fill in the gap as well, by providing a framework for rich application development; however, they're proprietary and aren't available on all platforms.
HTML 5, for the first time, has created a standard that provides a rich application development framework that comes close to the client-server experience. Since it's a browser-based standard, any device with HTML5 capable browsers will support HTML5 applications without the need for additional applications, or plugins. 
Here are some of the key benefits of HTML5:
  • It's an open standard, hence there are multiple vendors to compete, which means it's good for the customer.
  • It's a cross device platform – it works on desktops, laptops, netbooks, phones, tablets, TVs, and others.
  • It also works across operating systems: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Ubuntu and other Linux flavors.
  • Many browsers already support HTML5 including Chrome, Chromium Firefox, Opera, Android browser and IE will also support it. 
  • Chrome and Chromium are based on Webkit, which is open source and can be embedded into devices.
  • Standardisation also refers to a standard user interface across devices. Many design experts find that Flash-based sites have user interfaces that are very different when compared to traditional browsers. With HTML5 while the interface can still be cool and funky, it need not look very different that a web based application. 
Some of the key features of HTML5 are listed below:

Direct support for video

HTML5 has tags for running videos within the browser without the need for Flash or other plugins. This improves video integration and performance. However, your browser needs to support video playback codecs. You can test if your browser supports this by going to http://www.youtube.com/html5. Go to the bottom of the page and click on Join the HTML5 Trial. Now you can see YouTube in HTML5 without using any Flash plugin.

With HTML5, you can also create 2D graphics and drawings. Effectively, using your browser you can draw an image. HTML5 implements vector graphics instead of raster. An advantage of using vector graphics is that the file sizes are smaller as compared to raster graphics (GIF, JPG).

HTML5 also supports offline web application support, so you can run web applications even if you aren't connected. This is useful for offline email, or other application where connectivity may not always be available. 

Drag and drop support

You can now drag files from your computer, into your application and it'll be installed. You can try this in Gmail, if you have Chrome or Chromium installed on your system. 
The author is Regional Manager – Asia Pacific, Canonical. The views expressed here are his own. He blogs regularly at  http://www.cityblogger.com  and can be reached on prakash at canonical.com.