The Next Step Towards The Future, HTML5

The fifth version of HyperText Markup Language (HTML5) is being developed and speculation is that it will hit the market sometime in 2014 or 2015. The new system aims to maintain the flexibility and power of the old HTML, while adding several new elements, one of which is consistency and a simplicity expected to position it as THE markup language of choice.

If it is able to deliver on all it has promised and all that is being speculated about it, HTML5 will simplify the work of developers, open new doors to what is possible and achievable and eliminate much of the complexity around multiple platforms and devices, ensuring its worldwide acceptance and securing it that top spot.

Though the project to develop HTML5 was begun by Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG) in 2004, in 2009 the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) decided not to renew Working Group’s Charter, resulting in a new combined effort between the two super groups on the project. Clearly interest in this new version is huge and the involvement of virtually all of the key players should ensure it delivers as expected.

The first job of HTML5 is an update on the previous version, adding tags and capability for today’s multimedia. Users will find easy accessibility for adding video, audio and canvas, along with scalable vector graphics. Gamers and game developers are already gearing up and getting excited about the possibilities but this also expands what is possible for the average company and begs them to be more creative in their presentations and web evolution. Document and page structure is finalized through text style designations for such things as headings, lists and quotes, making even basic functions easier, faster and more consistent and opening web development to people who still think it a complex process.

Where HTML4 used a mix of features added along the way, HTML5 looks at the big picture with a goal of defining one markup language for use in either HTML or XHTML and across multiple platforms, for ease of use by people and consistent translation capability for technologies. Instead of taking an adhoc ‘oh, yes we should think about this and add it in’ approach, it looks around at what is being done and ahead to what is possible and incorporates all of this potential into the model.

The program incorporates great potential for mobile apps with features specifically designed to be adaptable to run on low-powered gadgets like phones and tablets and, based on the new forward thinking approach, whatever else comes along. For developers and users alike it is no longer about creating or downloading this version for this device and another version for another device, making the concept of multiple device rollout, usage and ownership less daunting and less cumbersome.

With features based on HTML, CSS, DOM and JavaScript, users can expect better error handling and a reduction in the need for external plugins like Flash. In April 2010 Apple Inc.’s then-CEO Steve Jobs issued a public letter titled “Thoughts on Flash” in which he concluded “[Adobe] Flash is no longer necessary to watch video or consume any kind of web content…….new open standards created in the mobile era, such as HTML5, will win.” And in November 2011 Adobe announced it would discontinue development of Flash for mobile devices and reorient its efforts in developing tools utilizing HTML. The stage has been set; now it is just left to the developers to follow through.

Speculation is that HTML5 will enable the development of websites and apps providing users with all the benefits of a desktop application but, with a speed, performance and functionality deliverable to the broader web market simultaneously. Updates and new versions will be automatic wherever they exist, saving users from downloading and installing new features, in many cases, on those multiple devices. Rather than having to seek out updates, or having the ability to ignore prompts to download, which may create complications down the road, everyday users will be saved from themselves through this automatic and controlled pull along the road of maintaining status.

New storage and filing systems will allow even greater functionality, allowing access to tools without online connection so users stay productive wherever and whenever. Travel time, business meetings abroad, sadly, even remote location vacation time, may no longer be reasons not to be productive. With everything users need available offline a new level of connectivity is possible, whether we want it or not.

Security and the reliability of information have also been enhanced and address many of the concerns and threats of our more accessible new world technology.

To say that HTML5 is being eagerly awaited is an understatement; developers are already changing the way they do things in anticipation of the release and across the board checks are being implemented to see how well current browsers will handle the new version.

Whenever it is actually and formally rolled out, it is guaranteed there will be more discussion and speculation about HTML5 in the months, and perhaps years to come as everyone waits to take this next step into the future.