What's left for HTML5?
October 18, 2012 —
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Related Search Term(s): HTML5, Kaazing, YoYo Games
HTML5 is a big specification, but the snapshot agreed upon this summer by the W3C offers a chance to assess the evolution until now. After five years of development as a specification, and various degrees of adoption from the browser makers, what do developers want from the still in-motion specification?
One area where work needs to be done is testing, said Jonas Jacobi, CEO of Kaazing. He added that this was one of the big problems for the W3C.
“This is one of the criticisms raised by the Facebook team in a recent post to the W3C’s public channel,” he said. “The lack of testing and good developer tools for the HTML5 feature set, including CSS3 and WebSocket, is an obstacle to rapidly create HTML5 applications. However, many companies are working to improve this experience.”
This is compounded by the fact that browser makers are implementing HTML5 on their own schedules, said Jacobi.
“Those browser implementations are the real problem point for developers,” he added. “One of the primary purposes of HTML5 is to improve browser compatibility in hope of reducing the burden of dealing with multiple different interpretations of HTML from browser to browser. We also have to remember that HTML5 specifications, plus standards that are closely associated with HTML5 such as CSS3 and WebSocket, are a substantial task to implement in their entirety. Browser vendors are currently racing to implement HTML5, but there are no rules about when to implement it; it is up to each vendor to decide. Until browsers have implemented a majority of the HTML5 features we are most likely to use, there will be gaps.”
And the term “browsers” doesn't just mean desktop applications anymore. With mobile applications and Web access near ubiquitous in the modern development world, HTML5 has to shoulder a double presentation burden for both the large and small screen. And this has been another complaint from Facebook: HTML5 development for mobile applications, said Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, is inferior to native.
Outside of Facebook, however, PhoneGap is a popular solution for porting applications to HTML5. With Adobe now shepherding that framework, and the Apache Foundation holding the open-source core of the project as Project Cordova, many developers now rely on the framework.
Ben Forta, director of developer relations at Adobe, said that Adobe's focus for PhoneGap is now on tooling. Instead of turning PhoneGap itself into a commercial product, Adobe has decided to build an ecosystem around it. This ecosystem will address pain points, such as build.
To that end, PhoneGap Build was launched in September, offering a cloud-based build service hosted by Adobe. Rather than install all the various SDKs for the different mobile platforms and keep them up to date, PhoneGap Build allows developers to build their applications in the cloud, using an always up-to-date set of SDKs and tools.
Indeed, Jacobi believed that PhoneGap is a great way to create mobile apps. “We have seen the trend swing back and forth multiple times already, and again, it comes down to your individual needs,” he said. “For the majority of companies looking to support mobile platforms, HTML5 will be more than enough. If you use technology such as Apache Cordova to build your HTML5 application, the user experience will be very close to an application developed completely in native code.”