What is new in HTML5?
Why is the media industry getting excited about HTML5?
HTML4 was first published in 1997 with the intent of providing a universally understood language for publishing information for global distribution. HTML5 is the evolution web developers needed to build apps instead of documents. HTML5 enables developers to break free of the limits they were used to when building web applications. Developers now have ways to store information on the device for offline use, have access to media, and can create visuals within the browser using HTML5 technologies. This opens up the potential for video, games, and rich web applications running in the browser on multiple platforms and across many devices without plug-ins.
Lessons learnt with HTML5 Video
In practice using HTML5 video exposes a number of challenges in dealing with an emerging technology. There is fragmented support for video codecs between the main browser implementations. You need to support at least two video codecs (H.264 and WebM or Ogg) in order to play video across most HTML5 compatible browsers. HTML5 video also doesn’t support adaptive bitrate streaming such as HTTP Live Streaming or Smooth Streaming, nor does it support DRM protection schemes for premium video content. For these we will still need to rely on Flash.
Moving forward with HTML5
HTML5 is still a long way off from achieving the W3C Recommendation status. However, Google, Mozilla, Apple, Opera, and even Microsoft are rapidly providing implementations of the new standard. Check out http://html5test.com/ to see what features your browser supports and how it scores out of a total of 475 points. You may be surprised by how much or how little your browser supports of the new specification. For example, the highest scoring browser is Google Chrome 17 (374 points), followed by Mozilla Firefox 11 (335 points), and Opera 11.60 (329 points). Microsoft takes the wooden spoon award for having the lowest scores for IE 6 (25 points), IE 7 (26 points), and IE 8 (41 points). The biggest challenge with developing HTML5 apps is providing support for legacy browsers and dealing with nuances between browsers and versions of browsers. This should be expected as early adopters of an emerging web technology.