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

By Darryl K. Taft


Desktop-as-a-Service Designed for Any Cloud ? Nutanix Frame

"This year they're building things," Beres said. "They are looking at taking their rich client apps and making them HTML5 and JavaScript based. There is a push for mobility on highly used apps that were not previously accessible to mobile, and they're looking to do a lot of their new development in HTML5 and JavaScript."

OmniTI, which focuses on Web applications and Internet architectures, does a lot of HTML5 development for enterprise clients. Robert Treat, chief operating officer at OmniTI, said the company is typically called in for one of two situations when it comes to HTML5.

"Generally speaking, the two use cases that jump out at me to begin with are projects where we have replaced an older technology like 'Flash' with HTML5 and JavaScript, and the other is in new development where we are targeting 'responsive Web design,' i.e., sites that can transition their look and feel across desktop, tablet and mobile browsers," he said.

Indeed, said Treat, "For our clients, the main driver has typically been performance; rather than loading large Flash files, we could do the same thing with less code using HTML5 and JavaScript. It also allowed us to add functionality that was difficult to do in Flash. The replacement process is usually straightforward; you first need to document the existing functionality and then reimplement it in HTML5/JavaScript."

"It's not always a rip and replace sort of thing," EffectiveUI's Franco said. "We are often helping companies migrate away from Flash, but it's not all or nothing. We're helping them write new apps. And often we'll do hybrid apps with HTML, JavaScript and CSS, and also some native code—usually Android or iOS. A lot of the apps we're migrating from never saw the Web. They were green screen line-of-business apps going to legacy front ends. HTML5 is enabling us to build better UIs into older legacy apps."

Ty Amell, CEO of StackMob, which provides a hosted HTML5 development environment, also said he is seeing a surge of enterprise interest in HTML5. "We've seen a nice uptick, especially in the enterprise," Amell said. "We have a multi-tenant environment, and we have a custom install where we go in with a system integrator and enterprises want to get their legacy systems into the hands of their mobile workforce. … HTML5 is great for responsive design and the ability to reuse code across devices."

Despite its many positives, among the problems with HTML5 right now is that "a lot of the platforms don't allow you to get access to the hardware," Mozilla's Heilmann said. So for example in the Firefox OS device, developers can access the camera, can access the accelerometer and can have a full database where they can store content.

But if they want to roll their Firefox OS app out to all the other platforms, in iOS they don't get access to the accelerometer and the camera from an HTML5 application; they have to create a native application for that, he said. And there are different specifications for different platforms. For example, iOS uses Web SQL for databases, whereas Chrome, IE and Firefox use IndexedDB, he added.

"So the shock that a lot of native developers have is that there are differences between the different browsers and the platforms that you have to work around," Heilmann said. "But that's why you have abstraction layers like libraries and APIs to take these differences away from the developer."

Originally published on .

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