An Overview of HTML5

By Nathan Segal

The first thing to realize about HTML5 is, it's not a single entity. It's comprised of many elements, including the fifth revision of HTML, CSS3 and many JavaScript API's. It allows you to use the multimedia experience of the desktop on the web. Prior to this technology, experiences of this kind could only work on the desktop.

With HTML5, developers can create apps and websites that function like desktop applications, which allows you to use the web platform to reach all of your users at once. Users no longer have to download apps for multiple devices, They can start an app by clicking on a link or button and not have to worry about having the latest update.

An interesting aspect of HTML5 is that it will allow you to create apps that function even when not connected, or when your system is offline. The trick is being able to store the assets and content locally. When this is done, the app works, regardless of where you go or if your system is online. Another one of the positive aspects of the offline features is being able to store data in the cache or in such a way that allows the data to be retained even if the page is reloaded.

With HTML5, you can make use of a wide variety of graphics elements, such as animation, games, movies, etc. Even intense graphics effects such as lightning and shadows, 3D, special effects, vector graphics and so on are supported. A major advance is with the JavaScript engines, which are fast enough to run these applications in real time. Hardware accelerated rendering is being used in modern browsers to create smooth rendering and transitions. What this means is that browsers are using the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) to speed up computing tasks, which will improve the user experience.

HTML5 tags are backwards compatible so that HTML 4-based content won't destroy HTML5 content. The former HTML structure and formatting is retained.

Several new tags have been added, some of which are: <audio> is used for sound, <video> for video playback, <canvas> for dynamic graphics. HTML5 allows SVG and MathML graphics to be embedded inline or linked within the HTML content. The result is that developers can include complex imagery without images, nor do they need to rely on third party platformms. All the content can be in one HTML file. It's also possible work with SVG imagery using JavaSript and manipulate aspects of the images, as well.

With HTML5 ,you can add audio directly to a web page. Be aware that while you can control the element with HTML or JavaScript, the specification doesn't cover which the types of codecs supported and this will vary with each browser. Before beginning your HTML5 development, this needs to be checked.

HTML5 allows you to embed video directly into a web page. Be aware that while the video element has been standardized, how the video codec is supported varies with each browser, so it's important to check that as part of your development process.

New types of form elements have been inluded, which allow you to display a given type of input then rely upon the browser to execute it. Some of the input options are: Telephone number, email, URL, date, time, color along with different variations.

The Canvas element gives you dynamic scriptable graphics rendering in the browser. With the use of JavaScript, you have the ability to control colors, vectros and pixels on your screen and this works with simple illustrations all the way up to complex visual effects.

Semantic markup tags are another advance which allow to structure your content so that the structure has meaning, sometimes known as semantics. Examples of this are the:  <article> , <section> , <header> , <footer> , <aside> , <nav> , and <figure> tags. This allows you to place important elements into sections. It's also useful for search engines and aggregators.

The DOCTYPE has been simplified. The result is that HTML5 documents are valid XML structures. HTML5 content is XML based which means that it must follow XML formatting rules.

It's important to realize that while HTML5 isn't standardized it is in use on devices such as the Apple iOS, Android, BlackBerry 6, and HP/Palm WebOS devices. All of the major browsers (Safari, Chrome, Opera, Internet Explorer) support HTML5, but it's not equal across platforms, so it's important to test out the features on the different devices, platforms, etc. To make sure that you're obtaining the results you seek, it would be wise to get feedback from users during the course of development.

 

 

References

• For an in-depth look at how HTML5 differs from HTML4, have a look at: HTML5 Differences from HTML4

HTML5 Rocks

HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript



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