One of the latest trends for Internet professionals is the advent of HTML5 coding. It is becoming the language of choice for websites everywhere. While it has been in development for years, in October 2014 the World Wide Web Consortium standardized it and now we are seeing many websites switching over to the new language. YouTube, for example, switched from Flash player to HTML5 last month. And your business’s site should consider making the switch too.
First, what is HTML5? This New Yorker post best explains it, first framing HTML, at its essence, as a bunch of tags. “But, with HTML5, the markup language has become a connective tissue that holds together a host of other technologies. Audio, video, pictures, words, headlines, citations, open-ended canvases, 3-D graphics, e-mail addresses–it lets you say that these things exist and gives the means to pull them into one solitary page.”
Here are four reasons why your business should join the HTML5 club, along with a few caveats to keep in mind.
It’s the Future of Coding
Today, half of the top 10,000 websites in the world use HTML5. The internet environment is becoming increasing multimedia-based, so it calls for a programming language that can accommodate that outlook. HTML5 makes delivering that multimedia content much easier for the developer, and faster for the user receiving it.
It Appears the Same Across All Platforms and Browsers
How many times have you visited a website on Chrome and had it appear perfect, but then you checked it on your smartphone later on and it didn’t fit properly on the screen? Compatibility across all platforms is one of the HTML5’s major benefits, and this is vital for businesses today.
With so many browsers and formats out there, you need your website to appear the same on all of them and making a different version for each platform is impractical. With HTML5 and responsive design, you can have just one version of your webpage that will always look good now matter what browser or device people are using.
Compatibility is not perfect, however. Chrome and Firefox show the highest compatibility levels so fast with ratings of 501 and 449 respectively (out of a possible 555). IE is still showing some difficulties with the new language, but more on this later.
The Coding is Simplified
The core objectives of HTML5 are to offer increased multimedia support, and also make the coding much easier to read and understand for both people and machines. HTML5 coding is clear, simple, and descriptive. Rather than having to write enormous blocks of complicated coding, you can create the same thing using smaller chunks of simple coding.
HTML5 also makes placing audio and video content a breeze. It treats that content the same as it would with image tags, and this makes things a lot easier on coders because it allows them to include those multimedia elements without having to use a plugin or API. Clearer coding also means that HTML5 is much easier to troubleshoot than its predecessors.
The one caveat with the new <audio> and <video> tags is they support several different file formats, so you will need to include different versions of the multimedia you upload. With Flashall you had to do was upload an FLV or F4V file, but now you have to include all those various formats to accommodate the many devices and browsers that your users will be using.
It is Faster and More Adaptive to the User
Overall, HTML5 could provide a much better user experience. With CSS3 coders can add more impressive style elements to a page, and it provides geolocation support as well – a webpage can adapt according to where a particular user is from and alter the flow of information as necessary. HTML5 also cashes data on the user’s end rather than using cookies, and this allows for faster page load times but it also present a security risk. Anyone, if they were so inclined, could dig into the coding and find out your business logic. A business using HTML5 will have to look at ways of either obfuscating or minifying its code to prevent this from happening.
HTML5 comes with a pile of new APIs such as Drag and Drop, Fullscreen, Visibility, and Media Capture that increase its capabilities and improve the user experience. Not all of threes APIs are fully compatible with all browsers however. IE8 for example, which many businesses still rely on, is not compatible with many of the new HTML5 APIs, and IE11 still has issues with some of them. Chrome, Firefox, and Safari on the other hand are has very few compatibility problems.
All things considered, HTML5 truly is the next step in the evolution of the Web. If the current trend continues, it is predicted to reach optimal usage by 2022. When will your company make the switch?
Photo via Flickr, Creative Commons