The What, Why and Who behind HTML5

By Vipul Patel


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It won’t be incorrect to say that the World Wide Web was invented as a consequence of Tim-Berners Lee drafting a memo that defined a markup language called HyperText Markup Language (HTML) to create documents and reference each other in a consistent manner to enable access via Internet.

The markup language was quite simple when it was originally drafted in 1991 where it had only 18 HTML tags. As web programming evolved, it was necessary to ramp up the specification. HTML4 specification was announced in December 1997 and later revised in April 1998 and December 1999.

The changing landscape for web programming resulted in yet another revision of the HTML spec, which was announced as a draft specification in January 2008. HTML5 garnered world attention when the Apple CEO at that time, late Steve Jobs, suggested the future of web hinged on HTML5 and did not see Flash as needed to view web content. This statement brought renewed focus on HTML5 and in December 2012, the HTML5 specification was considered W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) recommendation. Adobe later announced it was discontinuing Flash, leaving HTML5 alone on the race to support media-rich Internet.

One of the areas that has not been adequately addressed by prior HTML specifications were “Web Applications”. The HTML5 specification addresses these shortcomings; moreover, it also addresses concerns which have been raised against the past version of the HTML specifications over the years.

What is a layman’s definition of HTML5?

HTML5 can be viewed as a specification with support for new markups as well as support for programmatic APIs (JavaScript) to support web application scenarios.

The HTML5 specification intends to provide first class support for multimedia interaction as well as introduce programmatic capabilities into the specification allowing a web page to act as an application.

HTML5 was conceived after observing that there were a lot of mixed features in the HTML and XHTML specifications, and it was an attempt to define a single markup language which could be written in either HTML or XHTML syntax.

How does the HTML5 landscape look today?

Today, majority of the browsers have declared HTML5 compatibility as their goals. Browser vendors have rushed to build support for HTML5 into their browsers even though the specification has not been formalized. At the time of writing this article, Google’s Chrome led the pack amongst the popular browser in terms of HTML5 support. Note that Maxthon browser had the most HTML5 compatibility, but it is not have significant market share globally. Google Chrome (version 28) scores 463 points on HTML5test.com website out of a possible 500. Opera (version 15) and Firefox (version 22) are close behind with scores of 423 and 410 respectively. Internet Explorer (version 10) is at the bottom of the list of popular browsers with a score of 320.

While none of the browsers are fully compliant to the HTML specification, the race to reach full HTML5 compatibility between the browser vendors is on, and only time will tell who will win.



In this article, we learned about HTML5 and its history. In upcoming articles in this series, we will explore how to build HTML5 web pages using the new markups as well as the support for JavaScript APIs. I hope you have found this information useful.


About the author

Vipul Patel is a Program Manager currently working at Amazon Corporation. He has formerly worked at Microsoft in the Lync team and in the .NET team (in the Base Class libraries and the Debugging and Profiling team). He can be reached at vipul.patel@hotmail.com


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