HTML5 still taking shape

David Rubinstein
February 27, 2012 —  (Page 1 of 3)
The term “rich Internet applications” is an old one, coined when Adobe Systems released its Flash technology as a way to define applications that are highly interactive and connected.

Today, there is little doubt the industry has embraced HTML5 as the best solution for cross-browser, cross-device rich application development and delivery. Witness the demise of Flex, the repositioning of Flash, and Microsoft’s announcement that Silverlight 5 would be the last version for the browser.

And now that HTML5 has risen to mainstream acceptance, the industry is seeing what Telerik’s Todd Anglin called “an unusual alignment of technology heavyweights around a common platform,” citing the contributions of Adobe, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft, among others, toward the common platform.

“This is unprecedented in our industry,” he said. “Each has wanted to build and own the platform, but with the explosion of devices on the market, now they want to own the tooling services.”

_Can this all be traced to Apple’s decision to not allow runtimes in applications on its iPhone? Partly. But it’s also due to the number of new devices coming on to the market, each with different operating systems. “Plug-ins simply can’t keep up with the rapid explosion of all these devices,” Anglin said. “Even if they were allowed to, they couldn’t keep up.”

Jacobs cited a study that declared that 2.1 billion mobile phones with browsers will be in circulation two years from now, and those browsers all claim to support HTML5 development.

But it’s way too soon to declare HTML5 the Web application winner, the experts claim. According to the website, only 8% of the top 100,000 websites have any HTML5 behind them, and only 14% of the top 10,000 sites have anything from HTML5—even if just a Canvas pack. Further, only 46% of Internet users today have an HTML5-compatible browser.

The trouble, according to Anthony Franco, president and cofounder of software development firm EffectiveUI, is that HTML5 is not yet a standard. “Just because someone says their browser supports HTML5 doesn’t mean it’s a standard. All browsers support the W3C recommendation [for HTML5] in a different way,” he said.
And because HTML5 is not uniformly supported, compatibility issues come into play. This, Franco said, creates “an exception-coded nightmare.”

(As an aside, Franco said he declared the term “rich Internet application” dead two years ago. “Let’s break down the term. ‘Rich’ means well thought-through from a user perspective. ‘Internet’ means connected. ‘Application’ is software. All software should be well thought-through from a user perspective and connected. All the things we create and design by default are well thought-through from a user perspective and connected.”)

Related Search Term(s): RIAs

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02/27/2012 03:52:54 PM EST

David's comments make sense, but possibly need some amplification. The speed problem (which indeed is a part of UI) is concentrated a lot in Javascript and the libraries and has been getting better. I'm not sure why code written in Objective C or Java or C# or ActionScript would have a native speed advantage. But the point that HTML5/JavaScript/CSS3/SVG is still taking shape is important, but if I were looking forward, given the moves of both Adobe and Microsoft, I sure would be looking in that direction. (There has to be a clever acronym that encompasses all of the HTML5 stuff.)

United StatesTom Mariner

02/28/2012 07:25:31 AM EST

The burden of responsibility in ensuring compatibility across browsers will move from a couple of providers (like Microsoft and Adobe) to every single developer who is going to try and implement an RIA by using HTML5. In complex RIAs it's likely that even a small incompatibility between browsers could cause the app to malfunction.

United KingdomAngus Rose

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