HTML5: The Facts And The Myths

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You can’t escape it. Everyone’s talking about HTML5. it’s perhaps the most hyped technology since people started putting rounded corners on everything and using unnecessary gradients. In fact, a lot of what people call HTML5 is actually just old-fashioned DHTML or AJAX. Mixed in with all the information is a lot of misinformation, so here, JavaScript expert Remy Sharp and Opera’s Bruce Lawson look at some of the myths and sort the truth from the common misconceptions.

First, Some Facts Link

Once upon a time, there was a lovely language called HTML, which was so simple that writing websites with it was very easy. So, everyone did, and the Web transformed from a linked collection of physics papers to what we know and love today.

Most pages didn’t conform to the simple rules of the language (because their authors were rightly concerned more with the message than the medium), so every browser had to be forgiving with bad code and do its best to work out what its author wanted to display.

In 1999, the W3C decided to discontinue work on HTML and move the world toward XHTML. This was all good, until a few people noticed that the work to upgrade the language to XHTML2 had very little to do with the real Web. Being XML, the spec required a browser to stop rendering if it encountered an error. And because the W3C was writing a new language that was better than simple old HTML, it deprecated elements such as <img> and <a>.

A group of developers at Opera and Mozilla disagreed with this approach and presented a paper to the W3C in 20041 arguing that, “We consider Web Applications to be an important area that has not been adequately served by existing technologies… There is a rising threat of single-vendor solutions addressing this problem before jointly-developed specifications.”

The paper suggested seven design principles:

  1. Backwards compatibility, and a clear migration path.
  2. Well-defined error handling, like CSS (i.e. ignore unknown stuff and move on), compared to XML’s “draconian” error handling.
  3. Users should not be exposed to authoring errors.
  4. Practical use: every feature that goes into the Web-applications specifications must be justified by a practical use case. The reverse is not necessarily true: every use case does not necessarily warrant a new feature.
  5. Scripting is here to stay (but should be avoided where more convenient declarative mark-up can be used).
  6. Avoid device-specific profiling.
  7. Make the process open. (The Web has benefited from being developed in the open. Mailing lists, archives and draft specifications should continuously be visible to the public.)

The paper was rejected by the W3C, and so Opera and Mozilla, later joined by Apple, continued a mailing list called Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG), working on their proof-of-concept specification. The spec extended HTML4 forms2, until it grew into a spec called Web Applications 1.0, under the continued editorship of Ian Hickson, who left Opera for Google.

In 2006, the W3C realized its mistake and decided to resurrect HTML, asking WHATWG for its spec to use as the basis of what is now called HTML5.

Those are the historical facts. Now, let’s look at some hysterical myths.

The Myths Link

“I Can’t Use HTML5 Until 2012 (or 2022)” Link

This is a misconception based on the projected date that HTML5 will reach the stage in the W3C process known as Candidate Recommendation (REC). The WHATWG wiki3 says this:

For a spec to become a REC today, it requires two 100% complete and fully interoperable implementations, which is proven by each successfully passing literally thousands of test cases (20,000 tests for the whole spec would probably be a conservative estimate). When you consider how long it takes to write that many test cases and how long it takes to implement each feature, you’ll begin to understand why the time frame seems so long.

So, by definition, the spec won’t be finished until you can use all of it, and in two browsers.

Of course, what really matters is the bits of HTML5 that are already supported in the browsers. Any list will be out of date within about a week because the browser makers are innovating so quickly. Also, much of the new functionality can be replicated with JavaScript4 in browsers that don’t yet have support. The <canvas> property is in all modern browsers and will be in Internet Explorer 9, but it can be faked in old versions of IE with the excanvas library5. The <video> and <audio> properties can be faked with Flash in old browsers.

HTML5 is designed to degrade gracefully, so with clever JavaScript and some thought, all content should be available on older browsers.

“My Browser Supports HTML5, but Yours Doesn’t” Link

There’s a myth that HTML5 is some monolithic, indivisible thing. It’s not. It’s a collection of features, as we’ve seen above. So, in the short term, you cannot say that a browser supports everything in the spec. And when some browser or other does, it won’t matter because we’ll all be much too excited about the next iteration of HTML by then.

What a terrible mess, you’re thinking? But consider that CSS 2.1 is not yet a finished spec, and yet we all use it each and every day. We use CSS3, happily adding border-radius, which will soon be supported everywhere, while other aspects of CSS3 aren’t supported anywhere at all.

Be wary of browser “scoring” websites. They often test for things that have nothing to do with HTML5, such as CSS, SVG and even Web fonts. What matters is what you need to do, what’s supported by the browsers your client’s audience will be using and how much you can fake with JavaScript.

HTML5 Legalizes Tag Soup Link

HTML5 is a lot more forgiving in its syntax than XHTML: you can write tags in uppercase, lowercase or a mixture of the two. You don’t need to self-close tags such as img, so the following are both legal:

<img src="nice.jpg" />
<img src="nice.jpg">

You don’t need to wrap attributes in quotation marks, so the following are both legal:

<img src="nice.jpg">
<img src=nice.jpg>

You can use uppercase or lowercase (or mix them), so all of these are legal:

<IMG SRC=nice.jpg>
<img src=nice.jpg>
<iMg SrC=nice.jpg>

This isn’t any different from HTML4, but it probably comes as quite a shock if you’re used to XHTML. In reality, if you were serving your pages as a combination of text and HTML, rather than XML (and you probably were, because Internet Explorer 8 and below couldn’t render true XHTML), then it never mattered anyway: the browser never cared about trailing slashes, quoted attributes or case—only the validator did.

So, while the syntax appears to be looser, the actual parsing rules are much tighter. The difference is that there is no more tag soup6; the specification describes exactly what to do with invalid mark-up so that all conforming browsers produce the same DOM. If you’ve ever written JavaScript that has to walk the DOM, then you’re aware of the horrors that inconsistent DOMs can bring.

This error correction is no reason to churn out invalid code, though. The DOM that HTML5 creates for you might not be the DOM you want, so ensuring that your HTML5 validates is still essential. With all this new stuff, overlooking a small syntax error that stops your script from working or that makes your CSS unstylish is easy, which is why we have HTML5 validators7.

Far from legitimizing tag soup, HTML5 consigns it to history. Souper.

“I Need to Convert My XHTML Website to HTML5” Link

Is HTML5’s tolerance of looser syntax the death knell for XHTML? After all, the working group to develop XHTML 2 was disbanded, right?

True, the XHTML 2 group was disbanded at the end of 2009; it was working on an unimplemented spec that competed with HTML5, so having two groups was a waste of W3C resources. But XHTML 1 was a finished spec that is widely supported in all browsers and that will continue to work in browsers for as long as needed. Your XHTML websites are therefore safe.

HTML5 Kills XML Link

Not at all. If you need to use XML rather than HTML, you can use XHTML58, which includes all the wonders of HTML5 but which must be in well-formed XHTML syntax (i.e. quoted attributes, trailing slashes to close some elements, lowercase elements and the like.)

Actually, you can’t use all the wonders of HTML5 in XHTML5: <noscript> won’t work. But you’re not still using that9, are you?

HTML5 Will Kill Flash and Plug-Ins Link

The <canvas> tag allows scripted images and animations that react to the keyboard and that therefore can compete with some simpler uses of Adobe Flash. HTML5 has native capability for playing video and audio.

Just as when CSS Web fonts weren’t widely supported and Flash was used in sIFR10 to fill the gaps, Flash also saves the day by making HTML5 video backwards-compatible. Because HTML5 is designed to be “fake-able” in older browsers, the mark-up between the video tags is ignored by browsers that understand HTML5 and is rendered by older browsers. Therefore, embedding fall-back video with Flash is possible using the old-school <object> or <embed> tags, as pioneered by Kroc Camen is his article “Video for Everybody!”11 (see the screenshot below).

Screenshot12

But not all of Flash’s use cases are usurped by HTML5. There is no way to do digital rights management in HTML5; browsers such as Opera, Firefox and Chrome allow visitors to save video to their machines with a click of the context menu. If you need to prevent video from being saved, you’ll need to use plug-ins. Capturing input from a user’s microphone or camera is currently only possible with Flash (although a <device> element is being specified13 for “post-5” HTML), so if you’re keen to write a Chatroulette killer, HTML5 isn’t for you.

HTML5 Is Bad for Accessibility Link

A lot of discussion is going on about the accessibility of HTML5. This is good and to be welcomed: with so many changes to the basic language of the Web, ensuring that the Web is accessible to people who cannot see or use a mouse is vital. Also vital is building in the solution, rather than bolting it on as an afterthought: after all, many (most?) authors don’t even add alternate text to images, so out-of-the-box accessibility is much more likely to succeed than relying on people to add it.

This is why it’s great that HTML5 adds native controls for things like sliders (<input type=range>, currently supported in Opera and Webkit browsers) and date pickers (<input type=date>, Opera only)—see Bruce’s HTML5 forms demo14)—because previously we had to fake these with JavaScript and images and then add keyboard support and WAI-ARIA roles and attributes15.

The <canvas> tag is a different story. It is an Apple invention that was reverse-engineered by other browser makers and then retrospectively specified as part of HTML5, so there is no built-in accessibility. If you’re just using it for eye-candy, that’s fine; think of it as an image, but without any possibility of alternate text (some additions to the spec have been suggested, but nothing is implemented yet). So, ensure that any information you deliver via <canvas> supplements more accessible information elsewhere.

Text in a <canvas> becomes simply pixels, just like text in images, and so is invisible to assistive technology and screen readers. Consider using the W3C graphics technology Scalable Vector Graphics16 (SVG) instead, especially for things such as dynamic graphs and animating text. SVG is supported in all the major browsers, including IE9 (but not IE8 or below, although the SVGweb17 library can fake SVG with Flash in older browsers).

The situation with <video> and <audio> is promising. Although not fully specified (and so not yet implemented in any browsers), a new <track> element18 has been included in the HTML5 spec that allows timed transcripts (or karaoke lyrics or captions for the deaf or subtitles for foreign-language media) to be associated with multimedia. It can be faked in JavaScript19. Alternatively (and better for search engines), you could include transcripts directly on the page below the video and use JavaScript to overlay captions20, synchronized with the video.

“An HTML5 Guru Will Hold My Hand as I Do It the First Time” Link

If only this were true. However, the charming Paul Irish and lovely Divya Manian will be as good as there for you, with their HTML5 Boilerplate21, which is a set of files you can use as templates for your projects. Boilerplate brings in the JavaScript you need to style the new elements in IE; pulls in jQuery from the Google Content Distribution Network (CDN), but with fall-back links to your server in case the CDN server is down.

HTML5 Boiler Plate22

It adds mark-up that is adaptable to iOS, Android and Opera Mobile; and adds a CSS skeleton with a comprehensive reset style sheet. There’s even an .htaccess file that serves your HTML5 video with the right MIME types. You won’t need all of it, and you’re encouraged to delete the stuff that’s unnecessary to your project to avoid bloat.

Further Resources Link

HTML5 is a massive topic. Here are a few hand-picked links. Disclosure: the authors have their fingers in some of these pies.

About the Authors Link

Remy and Bruce are two developers who have been playing with HTML5 since Christmas 2008: experimenting, participating in the mailing list and generally trying to help shape the language as well as learn it.

Screenshot27

Bruce28 evangelizes Open Web Standards for Opera29. Remy30 is a developer, speaker, blogger and contributing author for jQuery Cookbook (O’Reilly). He runs his own Brighton-based development company called Left Logic, coding and writing about JavaScript, jQuery, HTML5, CSS, PHP, Perl and anything else he can get his hands on. Together, they are the authors of Introducing HTML531, the first full-length book on HTML5 (New Riders, July 2010).

(al)

Footnotes Link

  1. 1 http://www.w3.org/2004/04/webapps-cdf-ws/papers/opera.html
  2. 2 http://www.hixie.ch/specs/html/forms/web-forms
  3. 3 http://wiki.whatwg.org/wiki/FAQ#When_will_we_be_able_to_start_using_these_new_features.3F
  4. 4 http://www.html5patch.com/patches
  5. 5 http://excanvas.sourceforge.net/
  6. 6 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tag_soup
  7. 7 http://html5.validator.nu/
  8. 8 http://mathiasbynens.be/notes/xhtml5
  9. 9 http://www.wait-till-i.com/2005/06/21/six-javascript-features-we-do-not-need-any-longer/
  10. 10 http://www.mikeindustries.com/blog/sifr
  11. 11 http://camendesign.com/code/video_for_everybody
  12. 12 http://camendesign.com/code/video_for_everybody
  13. 13 http://www.whatwg.org/specs/web-apps/current-work/multipage/commands.html#devices
  14. 14 http://people.opera.com/brucel/demo/html5-forms-demo.html
  15. 15 http://dev.opera.com/articles/view/introduction-to-wai-aria/
  16. 16 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scalable_Vector_Graphics
  17. 17 http://code.google.com/p/svgweb/
  18. 18 http://www.whatwg.org/specs/web-apps/current-work/multipage/video.html#the-track-element
  19. 19 http://people.opera.com/philipj/2010/07/21/html5-video-webinar/demos/track.html
  20. 20 http://people.opera.com/brucel/demo/video/multilingual-synergy.html
  21. 21 http://html5boilerplate.com/
  22. 22 http://html5boilerplate.com/
  23. 23 http://dev.w3.org/html5/spec-author-view/
  24. 24 http://www.html5demos.com
  25. 25 http://www.html5doctor.com
  26. 26 http://code.google.com/p/html5-shims/wiki/LinksandResources
  27. 27 http://www.introducinghtml5.com/
  28. 28 http://twitter.com/brucel
  29. 29 http://www.opera.com/developer
  30. 30 http://twitter.com/rem
  31. 31 http://www.introducinghtml5.com/

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Bruce Lawson evangelises open web technologies for Opera. He co-authored Introducing HTML5, the best-selling book on HTML5 that has just been published in its second edition. He blogs at brucelawson.co.uk.

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  1. 1

    Fantastic Post! I’ve been waiting for this since Bruce tweeted about writing it!

    HTML5 is great, I’ve been using it on all my sites since Bruce’s talk at Future of Web Design and I really like. It’s really not that much of a learning curve and you end up with a really clean, semantic website at the end of it and the feeling that you’ve done something good for the web!

    HTML5 is very much like CSS3 in that if you’re not using it now, then you’re an idiot! There is no reason not to be using it!

    -8
  2. 2

    my view!

    no matter when the browsers will render, use HTML5

    -3
  3. 3

    It is funny how people get excited about technology sometimes. I am sure that there will be workaround posts, hacks posts and such about how to get something working on IE7 for example.

    I would really appreciate if Microsoft buy everyone around and we develop for and use only one browser, whatever it may be (preferably web-kit based…for now).

    0
  4. 4

    I pretty much agree with you Luca, it can be much better to keep things simple and avoid unnecessary complexity at this moment. But I think we (designers and developers) will be someway pushed in that direction for the next months on, as clients will demand that their websites to look and feel like other ones and to work in many diferent devices.

    -2
  5. 5

    Can someone complete the following conversation for me?

    Me: “Here is our budget for your website. You’ll see we are using HTML5, which is totally awesome! But because some common browsers don’t support all of its features, we are also duplicating some parts in Flash and JavaScript.”

    Client: “So I’m paying you to build the same stuff in HTML5 and also in Flash and JavaScript.”

    Me: “Yes.”

    Client: “And these new browsers that run HTML5, don’t they run Flash and JavaScript too?”

    Me: “Yes, unless you are looking at this on an iPad.”

    Client: “Well iPad users are only 1% of our traffic. Let’s cut HTML5 development down by just using Flash and JavaScript because you were building that anyway.”

    Me: “Well that’s a bad idea because HTML5 …”

    0
  6. 6

    As far as IE6 compatibility, I have a feeling we will be battling that for at least 3 more years, especially with some devices still using it as a browser.

    HTML5 is an interesting idea, and definitely opens up some doors, but truthfully, it might open up too many doors. Just wait till a malware/virus attack goes out and utilizes html5 as it’s core. It’s coming and will be probably much worse than any previous attacks due to the capabilities opened through html5.

    As far as flash, I’ve seen some beautifully implemented interfaces, and a lot more horrible interfaces. Flash is a plug in made for the desktop in a more mobilly(new word!) growing world. I feel that as more devices support flash lite, and the ‘bandwagon developers’ (similar to html5 developers who want to code sloppy) finally realize their cheery flash animations aren’t generating any business, the flash world will gain more respect.

    But as far as HTML5 goes, its a fad, with a cool ‘newish’ name, for older technologies only supported by few browsers. As developers we have to look at our audience, and their browser capabilities. I’m sure my audience only contains about 5% of viewers who could actually utilize HTML5 features to their true usable requirements.

    Want to do good to your users? Develop sites that are well structured, compatible, and utilize frameworks that enable better experiences on current technologies, and when other technologies arrive, feel free to play with them, but don’t expect someone else to fund a project or technology that isn’t even widely available to audiences yet.

    3
  7. 7

    The day that Google starts indexing based on HTML5 markup structure (do they already?), it will be pretty much critical to make the move given the additional semantic properties.

    The question is, how do you support non-HTML5 browsers, while using HTML5 markup, without the aid of a Javascript fix?

    2
  8. 8

    I would be more careful and really figure out who your target audience before utilizing HTML5. I’m not sure if you have ever been exposed to corporations, but a lot of our clients use IE6 because that’s part of their system and they have a lot of custom apps programmed for that platform. For them, it’s not as easy downloading the latest service pack for windows…We are talking million dollar upgrades…

    Also, a lot of people are completely oblivious to what’s happening on the web, your part of a small bleeding edge group – don’t assume everyone is like you. When you dig for user stats, make sure your data in not biased. For example w3school is the last place to get real data as their audience is us.

    5
  9. 9

    Clients don’t usually care about that.

    -1
  10. 10

    The spec for HTML5 has of great interest to me for a few months now. It’s support in Chrome (and Safari?) has been pretty good, but the wait for it to become a set standard/supported in the majority of browsers is going to be long and hard for me! I love using the more descriptive tags, the structure of a page definitely makes more sense, and can’t wait to build websites using HTML5.

    -1
  11. 11

    Man, exactly. That’s why I simply can’t bring myself to embrace it yet. It’s one thing to rely on Javascript to render a dropdown correctly, but entirely something else to rely on it for the layout of the entire website!

    -1
  12. 12

    just learning web design/coding now. wow, so many different “languages” HTML, XHTML, CSS, HTML5, XML, Javascript, JQuery……

    -1
  13. 13

    If you were around many years ago when Flash was first introduced, you’ll remember that at that time it took AGES before we started seeing creative, multimedia-rich websites that used all of the advantages it offered. In the beginning it was really just a case of online animation experiments here and there and then things improved rapidly as time went by.

    With HTML5, it’s going to be a similar case. Right now you’ll find hundreds of little experiments using the Canvas element (and HTML5’s other elements) to achieve something visually impressive, but in terms of real-world applications of HTML5, I don’t think you’re going to see a large quantity of sites (and developers) switching over to using it completely for some time yet.

    The reason in my eyes is this: We’ve only JUST gotten rid of the compatibility coding nightmares caused Internet Explorer 6 (and barely at that, as has been mentioned some people do still use it). Developers are tired of coding multiple experiences just to satisfy backwards compatibility of those browsers that don’t support HTML5 well yet and until IE9 begins to see greater usage numbers, I for one really don’t want to be in the ‘Create this in HTML5, replicate this in Flash’ boat, even though I LOVE using HTML5.

    If we can get to a point where we’re only needing to create one experience for the desktop and perhaps another that’s mobile optimized (of course there will still remain some per-browser issues, but not as many) I think that I’d be more happy to begin using HTML5 in any or all of my projects.

    My two cents :)

    4
  14. 14

    Thanks for your response there ‘Age’, I have in fact been exposed to corporations as the majority of our clients are corporates who are, as you very accurately point out, using IE6. But this has not stopped us from implementing HTML5 in anyway and I am not sure why it would?

    If you take the time to read the above post, you can see it states that any functionally that is not available in a browser can be easily faked with Javascript, which is what we do.

    -3
  15. 15

    If you want to learn a great server-side language, I’d recomment ColdFusion. Like HTML/XHTML, it’s tag-based syntax, for example, and if loop:

    [cfif i eq 5]do this[/cfif] (Most all tags in ColdFusion begin with cf) Also, I cannot use open/close tags in this editor because it tries to interpret it, so the above code is using the same characters.

    -2
  16. 16

    ..especially if your clients are outside U.S.

    -2
  17. 17

    HTML 5 is still useless as Internet Explorer doesn’t support most of the features.

    2
  18. 18

    Funny how similar the “First The Facts” of this article are to a blog I wrote about HTML5 Awhile ago. churchandwebdesign.com/2010/simplicity-of-html5/

    2
  19. 19

    I agree. Allowing “Tag Soup” is a step backward IMO. Some developers code is hard enough to go through as it is…allowing them to do whatever they want in terms of structure and standards is going to encourage sloppy coding.

    1
  20. 20

    It is a pitty we basically have to do things twice for graceful degradation…but I’m sure we’re all pretty used to this because of M$.

    On a different topic…why don’t they just let IE die? It doesn’t make them any money and it certainly isn’t a selling point (like IE6 was in it’s day). Is it just for simple presence?? And if that is the case, why do they “try” to be trail blazers….just conform and work with the rest of the world to make things better.

    3
  21. 21

    Till some years ago, every time I programmed a site, I had to test a lot for ie6, ie7, safari and ff. Then, finally, ie6 is quite DEAD, and I reduced my test time A LOT.
    Should I go back and test a lot for the various browsers just to be HTML5-that-trendy? NOT AT ALL. ie7 and ie8 do not support it natively, you have to wark around all that in various ways, and check that your site fall back gracefully. Well. NO. ie9 is fine with html5, but you will still have to check ie8. Again, NO. I do not want to restart all that testing. NO. I’ll probably wait ie 10… And once again.. Microsoft is taking all us away from the real future..

    1
  22. 22

    /me waves! .. nice article to share bruce!

    1
  23. 23

    Great post. Interesting to see how accepted this will be

    1
  24. 24

    Well that clears that up! Nice one Bruce and Remy.
    P.S. Anyone scared to dip into the HTML5 waters having bathed in XHTML for a few years, if you have reached a zen of clean minimal mark-up you will love HTML5 for it’s fresh semantic vocabulary. Utlisise ARIA roles for extra purpose and semantics and to specify your styles and you’ll never look back. ‘Fakin it’ for IE could not be easier either.

    2
  25. 25

    Nice article on HTML5 truths and myths.

    Just couldn’t understand why whatwg link didn’t figure out on further resources section.

    2
  26. 26

    I actually liked holding my code to the strict syntax of XHTML. Nothing’s better than a page that fully validates and the source code looks prim and proper.

    ( Removed this section because editor won’t show my code examples literally – it tries to interpret it )

    …something OCD-ish makes me love the look of the former and not the latter.

    0
  27. 27

    I cant tell if you are pro HTML5 or not from your comment. Both XHTML and HTML5 allow for you to maintain a strict syntax (a la XHTML) and they will both validate.

    1
  28. 28

    No man! Please not Microsoft!

    0
  29. 29

    IE6 is still over 6% in global usage, and depending on your sites visitors, considerably higher than that. The reality is, until we get rid of this technological debacle, we’re going no where.

    0
  30. 30

    The number of users who browse without JavaScript is minimal http://visualrevenue.com/blog/2007/08/eu-and-us-javascript-disabled-index.html

    Screen Readers CAN read out text inserted via JavaScript as well.

    -6
  31. 31

    …. is so totally cool and awesome, and cool… and stuff… Did I mention it was cool! You dont even have to code your DOM correctly! So what if the code does not operate in previous browsers? Whose using those anyways! Why should I not jump on the HTML5 bandwagon and parade around? I mean common! We are the greatest web developers in the world!

    0
  32. 32

    Thanks for all this clearing information!

    0
  33. 33

    What about “HTML 5 Kills a state-of-the-art processor doing a simple parallax movement”? or animations aren’t smooth at all?

    Nice article! Love Smashingmagazine

    0
  34. 34

    Why do HTML5 sites only talk about Flash as if it only does video? There are hundreds of other major capabilities that Flash already allows that HTML5 doesn’t.

    I’m excited about HTML5 just like everyone else but my biggest beef is that new innovations can take a decade to get through to major market penetration where as with Flash, within a year of a new plug-in release, upwards of 90% of users support it. I’m just not convinced that “open source” is the best solution for something like this.

    0
  35. 35

    I’m all for HTML5. With what I’ve seen, I’m very eager to learn it inside and out. My thing is, I’m partly OCD, and when I view someone’s code, allowing them to alternate 1 tag’s attribute casing and whether it has quotes around it or not just reeks of unprofessionalism.

    I never subscribed to the belief “Well, if it looks/works right in the browser, it’s fine however it was coded”; I take pride in my code being as clean, well documented, and easy to follow as possible (something HTML5 will allow, of course)

    My biggest beef is that IE continues to make vendor-specific CSS attributes even with version 9. It’s like they know what’s best for the web and they actively work against that goal. We need standardization and not competition.

    I tell people, “If something at work made you have to work X% harder for 0% more pay, you’d be against it, right? Well that’s what MSIE is for web developers; something that requires us to fanagle and manhandle our code just to get it to work properly.”

    I understand end users shouldn’t be bothered with this reality, but Microsoft seems to be the worst thing that could happen in the web’s development history.

    0
  36. 36

    Most clients don’t know: “browser”, “IE”, “JavaScript”, “HTML5” either. They just want the end product, and without clarification, leave all the nuances up to you to ensure that it runs everywhere properly.

    1
  37. 37

    Nice article, but why not just skip htlm5 and go straight to xhtml5?
    It seems like it would allow for even more uses and since it’s xhtml it’ll make your code look cleaner?

    0
  38. 38

    The problem really lies with what audience you are working with. If you want a cool artistic site aimed at other designs, then yeah go nuts with the HTML5. But if you’re working for a client, you should grab any analytics they have on their audience and assess what kind of site and technology you are going to use.

    If that information doesn’t exist, and you are trying to get people to the site, then you need to use what is most accessible. Not to mention I think most designers can do whatever they want with flash+xhtml+css. Sure something may be much easier using css3, but I’m so used to how to make it with css2 that I’m not saving that much time, and my css2 version is accessible to a wider audience (generally speaking).

    So while I’m not going to harp completely on HTML5, I’m just not really going to use it right now. I’ll seek out css3 and html5 stuff and see if it has a place in my xhtml/css2 designs, and just pick up the tags that why. Mostly though I’m fine without it.

    Then again maybe I’m just stubborn and I should get with the times before I stubborn myself out of a job in 5 years! Kidding, because the unspoken side of the design industry is how many senior level designs know very little of modern / current technology. You can walk into too many internet-based marketing companies with tons of knowledge that you think is pretty general and typical stuff, and find out that no one there knows what you’re talking about and they’re fine hacking together their non-compliant sites in Dreamweaver.

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  39. 39

    I’m done with IE6; I simply don’t develop for it.

    Every client I’ve spoken with, I’ve explained in simple terms the history of browsers and why IE browsers are popular (not by choice) I let them know “Your browser will look and work fine in IE7+, Firefox and other modern browsers, but it will not in IE6”

    So far, no client has refused (many appreciated the lesson).

    Simply put, IE6 just isn’t a browser. It’s such a poor conglomeration of pitiful interpreters and piss-poor proprietary tech that the best thing I as a web developer can do to Microsoft is say “Enough is ENOUGH”.

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  40. 40

    Anyway, XHTML site can be adapted in (X)HTML5… so XHTML is not going to disappear. :)

    By the way, very interesting article.

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  41. 41

    Great article! thanks :)

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  42. 42

    Don’t forget Jeremy Keith’s “HTML5 For Web Designers”: http://books.alistapart.com/products/html5-for-web-designers

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  43. 43

    The way I see it is a big part of HTML5 is just an open web standards technology to compete with Flash. Having Flash out there with such a dominant market share using a propriety technology is just not good for the web long term. Whether we like it our not this needs to happen to move the web forward to what was actually envisioned when Tim Berners Lee designed it.

    The problem I see here is not only is there a number of levels of bureaucracy that hinder the development of HTML5, it’s the fact that Adobe has had 10+ years to develop Flash. Imagine how long it’s going to take for HTML5 to really compete with Flash in things other than displaying a simple video with content protection. Flash makes millions of dollars on this technology alone.

    It’s just going to be a big mess. We designers are delusional if we ever think the web is going to be truly 100% open with web standards. As long as there is millions of dollars at stake this will never happen.

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  44. 44

    It’s really interesting how many web developers ignore that using HTML5 now means tying the pages to JavaScript: With JavaScript deactivated the pages will fall apart completely (for a considerable number of users). That’s OK if you’re doing a web app that will be dependent on JavaScript anyway, but it’s madness otherwise.

    And what about Lynx et.al.? What about screen readers? Will your pages work for those categories? Does anyone care anymore?

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  45. 45

    Very thorough article.

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  46. 46

    In my experience, a client is more likely to say, “why doesn’t this work on [insert hip new technology]?!?” Rather than, “let’s save money and not support [insert hip new technology].”

    That said, your browser matrix tells you which technologies to choose from. HTML5 features are just more tricks in your bag, allowing you to provide more broad support, if it makes sense.

    A few years ago, the client would just be out of luck.

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  47. 47

    Okay, let me rephrase the question then. I’ve got a limited budget – be it time or money. If I’m going to build a site, what is the advantage of building features in HTML5 that will need to be duplicated in Flash or JavaScript for the time being? Eventually 95% of browsers will support 95% of HTML5 and we won’t have to duplicate features, but until then I have a hard time justifying the additional time/money to duplicate features. I just want to know if there is some reason for doing it this way that I am not considering or aware of.

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  48. 48

    Yes, it’s a GREAT book goes into a lot of detail about all this stuff.

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  49. 49

    You can still use xhtml coding syntax so that your code looks cleaner…I think the point is that people that don’t know how to code well (clean) won’t break the sites that they’re working on.

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  50. 50

    Just a quick note:
    Under About the Authors, link to Introduction to HTML5 has a typo.. :)

    Good job otherwise.

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