HTML5: The key to a better web

HTML is a core markup language used for web development. Web developers around the world are now using the fifth iteration of HTML. The average internet user however, will be unaware of this.

What they will be aware of is how the internet has changed in the last couple of years. To get a better understanding I spoke to MintTwist’s lead web designer, Lee Baillie on the subject.

The Interview

Greg: In your opinion, when did HTML5 first start being used on the web?

Baillie: Well, in my experience it’s been being used in some way by a lot of sites for about the last two years

Greg: And would you say that is mostly as part of video streaming? Because the two big advantages I can see to HTML5 are video streaming and app development…

Baillie: HTML5 video streaming is a benefit in the way that it requires no plug-ins (playable on all devices)…but it’s not publisher friendly because the DRM (digital rights management) capabilities are very limited. Vimeo only recently started an HTML5 rollout in addition to its multiple other video players…YouTube was a bit further back. The vast majority these days’ use much smaller components of HTML in amongst the existing code of their sites, such as some of the more semantic mark-up

Greg: So would I be right in saying that you believe HTML5 is with us and here to stay, but only for pretty specific aspects of coding?

Baillie: HTML5 is definitely here to stay…it’s a mark-up language, though. That means that it works on the local machine, rather than the server (like PHP, a programming language). HTML5 is simply just an updated version of HTML…currently we’re using HTML4 to build pages. All it means is that some features of HTML4 are deprecated, and will be replaced by better, more advanced versions of the same thing in HTML5. HTML5 is, you could say, more “powerful” than HTML4…but it’s still HTML…there are no fundamental changes…just additions and improvements

Greg: What does it mean for users, i.e. will it lead to big changes in web and mobile browsing, or apps?

Baillie: To be honest, users won’t notice a massive amount of difference because designers and developers are already pretty adept at using the technology we have already to optimise the experience, regardless of platform. The point of mobile browsing is, on a high level, still the same as browsing on the desktop…content is king, as you know. Content is platform agnostic, so it falls to the user experience to improve the flow for users on a mobile device. HTML5 is mostly a positive for designers and developers; it makes our jobs easier and gives us the ability to more easily do the stuff we’ve already been hacking together for years.

That’s not to say the user won’t notice anything. Rich experiences which were once only possible with JavaScript are now possible right there in the mark-up, so the experience will be faster and smoother, provided it’s done properly.

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