HTML5: What is it?

Posted & filed under Community, Video.

The biggest buzz in the Web developer community this past year has been HTML5.

This is the new specification for coding websites, which is supported in most modern browsers. While it offers some nifty new features, not all Web browsers support it (hello, Microsoft), and this can cause problems for developers wishing to use it. Here’s the scoop.

Among other things, HTML5 adds support for audio/video playback, and can be seen as a means to replace Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight for animations and interactive functionality. Flash and Silverlight both need commercial software to enable development, and require third-party plugins be installed for Web browsers. HTML5 will need no browser plugins to function and is code based, so anyone can write it without need of additional software.

HTML5 has been developed since 2004. But only in the last year have Web browsers such as Firefox, Safari and Chrome added support for it. Microsoft is finally throwing its hat into the ring with the new Internet Explorer 9, which was launched as a beta earlier this month.

But because previous versions of IE do not support HTML5, and IE9 works only on Windows 7 and Vista (no WinXP, which is half the Windows user base), it is difficult for developers to consider using HTML5 in a site, which must reach a broad audience.

Different browsers supporting different features is also a problem. A quick look at this page shows the sporadic nature of support among the various browsers. (It’s also a good page for examples of what HTML5 can do.)

Here at CAWOOD, we are keeping an eye on HTML5, as it is definitely the future. But until it matures a bit more with ubiquitous support, we’ll likely just keep an eye on it for now.

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