I have mentioned the hype around HTML 5 before. And still, and maybe even more, I do absolutely not understand why there is so much going on about it.
Well, actually I do know, but I prefer not to. I have been working with HTML since ’93 when I had to work with the only real browser out there; Mosaic, nothing more than a simple tool to read html pages. No dynamics, no scripting. Nothing.
And HTML was about to grow, because in the following years leading up until 1999, it needed to be prepared for everything that was happening online. And oh it did so not live up to it’s task. That was not HTML’s fault, but more the two major browser-makers with an attitude; Internet Explorer and Netscape. And none of them was able to handle HTML in the same way. Which had a bit of a side-effect, working with web sites so much as I had; I needed to know every little trick there was to know to make sure sites ran exactly the same in all the browsers, and more important; they needed to look the same.
HTML allows a lot of tricks, because it is full of loopholes that you can use to trick a browser with so you could change the behavior of a browser a bit.
But HTML is and always has been a bit of an odd thing. It was there to simply present things on a sheet of paper (or screen in this case). And you read a site like a book, being a stack of papers. It can show a picture, text, references to other books and papers. It is a horrible, old-fashioned thing for a multimedia machine like a computer. But I learned to love HTML. Because, no matter how you slice it, if you deal online, you need to deal with HTML. But, as mentioned in an earlier blog-post; the real fun stuff you do with other technologies, plug-ins and scripts.
NO MORE – they say. NO MORE shall we use plug-ins for playing video, playing audio and showing real-time images.
Excuse me? Now, did anyone take a look at the new HTML 5 line-up? If not, here http://www.w3schools.com/html5/default.asp is a good place to start. HTML 5 is the thing that ultimately will kill HTML. I do not know if that is actually a bad thing, but let’s be honest, take a look at the W3Schools site and read through it.
Sure, it is nice to show video and audio and create an image on a canvas. But WTF?!?!?! You have to script an image? Now, all designers under us, raise your hands, how many of you are going to script out an image? It feels like being back in the good old QBasic days when as a 12 year old boy I was programming 320×200 images with lines and dots.
Even with laying multiple png’s on top of each other in div’s you get a way more impressive effect. And the video? I know everyone wants to bash Flash or Silverlight, but please, you have so much more control over it so you can use video completely interactive, including masks, dynamic masks, and sprites in both others. That is comparing Blu-Ray (Flash/Silverlight) to VHS (HTML 5).
Audio? Wow… we can stream audio now? So we might hit the mute button asap because we do not want our boss to know what we are doing behind our computers? It is all easy, but where can I mix my streaming sounds, pan them through stereo. Hi Mono-Walkman (HTML 5), have you seen my iPod (Flash/Silverlight … hmmm, maybe not a good match here 😉 ).
Is everything bad about HTML 5?
Not at all. HTML 5 is not a bad thing. But it is not even close to a replacement or a threat to real use of mulltimedia technologies as Flash and Silverlight. What I am afraid of is that a lot of nit-wit CEO’s are going to enforce the support for multimedia in HTML 5 instead of Flash or Silverlight because Apple says so, and that the word is on the street that you should. And a lot of money will be put into this, for a result that is most probably not as what they had envisioned. And there it goes, a lot of money and time down the drain.
So, what is good about HTML 5. I personally love the new form features and data validation. It saves the creation of new code to handle it. It is easier, but not something we could not already do in scripting and AJAX. Nevertheless, it is a welcome thing, being able to handle it in the browser itself. But – please – is that worth waiting 11 years for? 11 years it has been since the last major HTML update. Let’s see, 1999, that would be like working now on the millennium bug. A little bit late isn’t it?
My company and I will support the use of HTML 5, but we will have to keep everything compatible with older browsers too, so we need to support HTML 4 also. Tadaah. Enough new work. Please, if possible, ladies and gentlemen at the HTML 5 workgroup. Just, stop. Take a coffee, or a Frappuccino, and take the day off. You know what, take the whole year off. HTML 5 is not going to make a major change, and only will cost us all a bunch of money. And I, for one, am not happy to invest valuable money and time in something that literally does not make any noticable difference at all.