HTML 5 - The New Frontier

Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML) is often called the backbone of the modern web - it is what structures the basics of nearly every website, big or small. As with anything web-related, HTML is also constantly evolving. The newest iteration, HTML 5, is slated to change the way things work and also add many features that fill in where previous versions of HTML fell short.

Web Applications can be found in vast numbers in every nook of today’s web. Nearly all applications people are accustomed to are built from much more than simple HTML however. Vimeo and youtube, for example, were originally built using Adobe Flash to handle the main video player and video controls. Previous versions of HTML simply could not handle this type of “rich content” on their own. HTML 5 aims to centralize things, and account for such shortcomings of the currently supported version (HTML 4).

Arguably one of the most important aspects of the forthcoming HTML 5 specification is the video element. As previously mentioned, both Vimeo and youtube were originally built on Adobe’s Flash platform, and then included in an html page. Youtube has been one of the more well-known pioneers in adopting the forthcoming HTML standard. They currently have remade the original youtube player using only HTML 5. Anyone can opt-in to test out the newest iteration of youtube by going to their HTML 5 opt-in page. While the “Flash-free” version of youtube might not have all bells and whistles of its predecessor, it’s still remarkably fast, responsive, and even more important - compatible.

With new elements such as video and canvas, the new specification of HTML allows web developers to create complex interactive web applications without the use of Flash, or even javascript. For example, the canvas element is intended to display and update graphics very quickly - easily allowing developers to make image manipulation tools or even games with only HTML 5.

Though some companies (Apple for example) have already adopted HTML 5 as the “standard,” it’s important to keep in mind that the HTML 5 specification is itself still evolving and under development - things will still change. Basically, empowering HTML as a programming language will allow web developers more power with less complexity. Instead of having to use Flash, Javascript, and HTML to create interactive web applications developers will only need HTML 5.

To learn more about HTML 5 and how it differs from HTML 4, check out the official differences list or the HTML 5 demos.

Update: There is now a proof-of-concept HTML 5 and Javascript (no flash) game, check it out.

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