As it is my job I have to try to stay up to date with the new developments in technology, so I can decide if a certain technology has a solid foundation to start working with. One of the most talked-about new technologies that is coming soon is HTML5. And I have written this a couple of months ago, but even after my latest in-depth lessons in HTML5 I still reach the same conclusion: I am not impressed.
The last time when I talked about HTML5 it was because of the anti-Flash movement that has formed itself suddenly after Apple decided to attack the technology. I am not even going into that here, if you want to read my opinion about that, you can find it in numerous previous postings here.
So, why am I not impressed with HTML5? Well, it is too outdated already. I can understand that web-programmers get excited about this, because suddenly they have the access to, by code, fully integrate all kinds of interaction and media. But I would like to speak to the first realdesigner, interaction designer and multimedia expert that praises this technology, because for them working with HTML5 is a major step back. It is asking Schumacher to drive a $16k Ford Mustang. Yes, sure, it is still a sports car, but it is not a GT or Shelby, has very limited power compared to the more expensive versions, and even they are nothing compared to a F1. So, it is better than asking him to race in a Volkswagen Golf, but it is still far from what he already has; the Ferrarri F1.
This is what HTML5 is. It is the $16k Ford Mustang ‘Pony Edition’ and HTML4 is the Volkswagen Golf. HTML5 is better than HTML 4, but still nothing to be happy about if you are used to do some real multimedia work, what for example Flash and Silverlight allow you to do. To have some serious, good looking design work done in HTML 5 and make creatively use of the CANVAS tag, most companies have to rely on their programmers. WTF? That is what we tried to get away from for the last 15 years for creative work!!!
And it is often said that HTML5 will make technologies like Silverlight and Flash obsolete, but the reference to this is actually onlyin combination for video-playback. True, YouTube will absolutely benefit from HTML5. But complete interactive productions with real animations, that will be a far more costly and time consuming (not even to mention frustrating) production.
And what happens when streaming technologies for video and audio are developed far beyond the capabilities of h.264 (if this codec is chosen)? Than HTML5 will actually slow us all down, while in a plug-in platform like Flash and Silverlight new technologies can be included, it does not require new browsers etc.
I understand the discussion about open source and closed source, but HTML5 is only interesting for HTML only basic websites that want to include a bit of interaction. It is not bad, don’t get me wrong, but it is nothing to get really excited about?
And the ad-demo’s that Steve Jobs gave for the iPhone OS 4? Yes, they were in HTML5, but to create an advertisement like that in HTML5 you need at least a designer and a developer who have to work together, so that accounts for 2.5x the time to produce it than if one could do it by him/herself… which Flash and Silverlight allow, without problems. And then, if you can make an ad like that for $5,000 or for $2,500 makes a difference for smaller companies.
So, yes, I am prepared to work with HTML5, but for multimedia only as the very, very, very last resort.