HTML5 Used as Marketing Babel Instead of Technology Value?

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I have been following the adoption of HTML5 for a few years when my organization took the plunge in converting our Flash expertise over to the latest open web standards. It has been a painful and eye opening experience, though we picked up a lot of knowledge along the way. During this time, I have noticed several products or demonstrations where HTML5 was a key selling point. The first problem I have with HTML5 as a selling point is most enterprise organizations can’t use HTML5 powered applications on the desktop because of browser compatibility. The second problem I have is some of these applications touted as HTML5 either don’t even use HTML5 at all, or use an obscure feature that has nothing to do with core functionality.

Am I getting caught in semantics? 

HTML5 is simply a markup language for web content. The mention of HTML5 does typically encapsulate a host of other technologies like CSS and JavaScript. In short HTML5 takes web applications out of the stone ages but it is most importantly a step forward to provide a new layer of semantics to web content. While HTML5 and accompanying standards make web application development more powerful, it is not quite yet a value proposition for develop once deploy everywhere, and should not be taken seriously unless we are talking about mobile applications.

Why? HTML5 is generally supported across most mobile browsers, but the desktop is an absolute nightmare. Waving an HTML5 wand over an existing software solution, specifically Flash, does nothing for us in the enterprise today unless the intent is mobile integration.

The following chart is a warning to both software vendors and customers who think they are ready for HTML5 on the desktop.

Data from Net Market Share, image by Ars Technica

The small sliver with the #10 is the only version of IE that I feel comfortable using with a modern HTML5 enabled application, though IE 9 does provide a level of support for HTML5. While I personally stopped using Internet Explorer years ago, most enterprises rely on IE as the standard browser.

Is HTML5 worth getting excited about yet?

HTML5 is absolutely something to be excited about because it is an open standard and provides a mechanism to maximize the browser into something much more powerful. The results will allow web applications can behave more like native applications, which you can experience on recent browsers or mobile phones. I think marketing organizations have gotten a little overly excited about HTML5, which is why the name itself no longer refers to a mark up language standard but now a technology buzzword synonymous with being the replacement for Flash.

 What do you think..?


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