HTML5: Winning Developer Hearts and Minds--but With Some Holdouts

By Darryl K. Taft


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"The key benefit is the promise of reduced effort as a single code base can handle multiple platforms," Hilwa told eWEEK. "This would be done with the overall standard Web platform effort, which includes HTML/CSS/JS, and with care taken core functionality can be delivered with a single set of code assets. However, developers have to adapt these Web apps and test them for the different platforms and in some cases bundle them with native functionality through bridges like PhoneGap."

Even Big Blue has gotten into the fray. Mike Gilfix, director of enterprise mobile for the IBM MobileFirst platform, told eWEEK that one of IBM's motivations was to look at HTML5 to get code reuse across multiple touch points or devices. "Whether we're talking phones, devices, kiosks or tablets, HTML provides a common ground across all of these and allows people to reuse content and share code while using a common skill set," he said. "So when we look at providing cross-platform support on multiple devices and consistency of experience, we're talking about using HTML5."

IBM acquired Worklight in 2012 to advance its HTML5 strategy. Worklight features runtime skinning to detect what platform a developer is working on and provides testing tools and optimizations, Gilfix said.

In addition, IBM provides HTML5 support through its Rational software development toolset. "We work very closely with Rational; in fact, we source from Rational," Gilfix said. "Anyone working with Worklight can layer on all the tools from the Rational brand. So we give you a first-class environment with capabilities such as code completion, visual design tools, integrated testing tools, ways to structure your code base for different environments, and we also package in Cordova," which is the Apache software underlying PhoneGap.

Speaking of first class, Microsoft has worked to make HTML5 a "first-class citizen" on its platforms.

"We really went and redesigned the tools to make sure developers could use HTML5 as a first-class language on top of our platform," Giorgio Sardo, a senior technical evangelist at Microsoft focused on HTML5 and Internet Explorer, told eWEEK.

Visual Studio is the tool Microsoft wants developers to use to build Windows 8 apps, Sardo said. "Visual Studio Express is an end-to-end solution for HTML5 applications," he said. "With a good platform you need great tooling support. When we released Windows 8, we also released Visual Studio Express, which is a free tool that allows you, for the first time, to build a native Windows 8 application using HTML5 and JavaScript. And so we give all of the capabilities that a developer expects from a managed language—from a native language like C++ or C#—to … HTML5 and JavaScript developers. This includes things like debugging the code or designing the UI or previewing different form factors or optimizing the code."

However, "In terms of what you bring into the application, you can use any JavaScript framework or library to build native applications on Windows—like jQuery. We support jQuery as a first-class citizen," he said. "On top of this, we also provide our own framework, which is called WinJS, Windows JS, which is another option and gives developers a choice."

Originally published on .

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