This article is first in a series of four that will help readers grasp the changes that are being introduced to the web and web browsers with HTML5. This article will provide an overview of the current browser support for html5 and the kind of things that it can do as well as its limitations.
So what’s this HTML5 stuff anyways?
Well HTML5 is an overhaul of HTML4 in some respects (There are many changes/additions to the Document Object Model — which is the way that web pages talk to the web browser to display markup). There are many syntax adjustments that will make writing and reading web code easier. It also redefines how websites are displayed and gives developers more tools to create media-rich and functionally complete web applications without having to rely on third-party languages, such as PHP, flash, or CGI. In fact, many of the functions of Adobe Flash can now be replicated in HTML5, as demonstrated by html5games.com and this http://srufaculty.sru.edu/david.dailey/svg/curve.svg demonstration of animated SVG images.
It’s important to note that HTML5 does not replace Flash completely. It doesn’t have the robustness that flash has. Take chatroulette.com for example. It uses flash to access webcam feeds and microphones of the user to connect two users. Many flash games also give you the option to adjust the quality of the rendering, in case you have a less powerful computer. Flash also has connection adjustment for faster or slower internet connections. These factors (plus the fact that Flash content is more protected because of how it can display other content) are all reasons why html5 programming and codecs will not be fully adopted at youtube. You can read their post about it here http://apiblog.youtube.com/2010/06/flash-and-html5-tag.html.
Currently we have a bevy of web browsers that we encounter every day as IT professionals:
This is a lot more than the two browsers that we had clashing a decade ago, back when some of us still called Mozilla by the name Netscape. Now most of these browsers render things excellently. You can check out how your browser of choice fairs with some Acid Tests from http://www.acidtests.org/. Then go to http://html5test.com/ and see what kind of support for html5 your browser has.
Here’s a breakdown of scores in case you don’t have time to install 4 browsers on your computer:
|Browser:||html5test.com||Acid 3 Test|
*version 8. All other versions current as of Oct. 1st
Admittedly, the HTML5 specs have been in flux now for several years, but there is a wild difference in scores here, especially Internet Explorer. What is interesting to note here however is the performance of the iPhone 4 on the HTML5 test. Though Steve Jobs has championed HTML5 over flash, it seems as though the Apple platform isn’t quite as ready for the show as it could be and with developer adoption of HTML5 still gaining traction it makes one wonder why Apple abandoned Adobe so early.
HTML5 Browser Adoption
So what in the HTML5 specifications aren’t yet implemented in web browsers or my browser of choice? Well there’s a helpful website that has everything cataloged and documented: http://caniuse.com. The most interesting of CanIUse.com is the final table of the projected HTML5 implementation for major browsers — a category in which Chrome is once again at the top of the pile. It seems that Google, more than anyone, is pushing HTML5 on all fronts with new video codecs, browser support, and web application implementation (you can opt into the Youtube html5 test if you have a Youtube account).Tune in next time…
In all, the new features of HTML5 break down into two categories: Media/Media functions and Programming features. I’ll go over these features at length in the next two articles, starting with the media functions and how they’ll make life a whole lot better for everyone with HTML5-capable browsers. In the mean time, check out http://rumpetroll.com/, a cool implementation of HTML5 websockets in a fun chat environment.