HTML5: developed for the web, growing to be mobile - Part 1
A short history...
HTML is the acronym for HyperText Markup Language and it's the main markup language for displaying the information from Internet in browsers. It was wrote in 1990 and since then it was upgraded 4 times, HTML5 being the latest and "brightest" addition.
By the time HTML4 was developed in 1997, a series of issues clouded the web experience. Due to the fact that most Internet pages have broken HTML markups and still generate issues when they are loaded in browsers (errors, such as forgetting some tags), the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has created XHTML (a different language, more specifically a reformulation of HTML4), which was supposed to deal with these errors.
Although in 2000 XHTML has become a W3C Recommendation, things didn't look so good. Because XHTML treated as fatal all those errors that HTML passed away (the XHTML method was even named "Draconian error handling"), all web sites that contained errors (according to estimates, 99% of the sites) couldn't run properly. This behavior has rapidly become very unpopular among web developers, and so in 2004, representatives from Mozilla Foundation, Opera Software and others were forced to find a solution. The silver lining appeared in 2008, and it was called the HTML5 standard.
What is different from previous versions?
HTML5 has video / audio native support
One of the main additions to HTML5 is the integrated support for video / audio. The idea is that a common video format will be rendered and played into the web browser, allowing users to play video / audio without any support from 3rd party software (like Adobe Flash). This comes as a relief, doesn't it?
So far HTML5 has proven to be very popular for mobile platforms (especially because neither Apple nor Google Android 4.1 support Flash Player), and in some tops it ranks 3rd, behind iOS native apps and Android native apps. And that's not all! It is expected that the number of HTML5-enabled phones to be sold by 2013 will reach 1 billion. This is mainly due to the fact that web apps built on HTML5 work on all browsers, and also it's cheaper and less time consuming for developers to develop apps using the HyperText Markup Language.
HTML5 is more flexible
HTML5 does not handle the small errors from the code the way HTML4 did, but actually it uses a set of specific rules, thanks to which the testing process is a lot easier. Let me give you an example: when working with HTML4, developers needed to test their code in all the browsers in order to discover how the error handling of HTML4 affects their websites, as there were no specific rules in handling those errors. Now HTML5 provides new parsing rules, and thanks to that developers don't need to do extensive testing on all the browsers, as they can rely on rules that apply to all browsers.
Since its first public working draft HTML5 has come a long way and has brought with it many improvements, as well as many new and very useful features. However, as any other new standard, it also has a downside. More about HTML5's new features, but also disadvantages, in the next post (Part 2 of the series).
In the mean time, you can take a peek Inside the rich world of RIA: HTML 5, Silverlight and WPF-XBAP and read the Flash vs. HTML5 analysis .
Other posts in this series:
HTML5: developed for the web, growing to be mobile - Part 2
HTML5: developed for the web, growing to be mobile - Part 3
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