HTML 5 – Boon or Bane?

HTML 5 is an emerging standard. It has superseded the earlier XHTML standard. People and products are yet to embrace this standard fully. With every standard comes the question of backwards compatibility and new feature inclusion. While HTML5 is backwards compatible, it has brought an avalanche of features along with it. Some are mundane, while some are outrageous.

While we get should not get overawed by the feature set, there is something very sweet about HTML5. It's forgiving like our parents. No strict syntaxes or semantics. You may think that it paramounts to spaghetti code. While this may be true from a lexical sense, it's not, from a compliance perspective. Can we ever stop this new generation from writing code the way they please?

Well, HTML5 has at least one feature for the young and old alike. Some niceties like shortening of tags for instance DOCTYPE have been included. Then there are the new tags like header, footer, aside etc. to semantically address a page, the way it should. For example, you can have a block quote aligned on right side using the <aside> tag. There are many other useful formatting tags. Some of the old tags have been made more meaningful.

The new feature set for HTML5 includes things like Geolocation, Audio / Video tags, Webworkers, Canvas, Microformats and Microcodes. They mean a whole lot. But let me explain to you the Audio / Video tag. No longer do we need a plug-in like flash or shockwave to listen to music or watch video. We have built in Codec's that enable this feature, and they are very powerful. How many lines of code, just one – heck, that is amazing.

In the same way, consider Geolocation. You can have a map of where you are in 15 lines of Javascript code. Note that HTML5 relies a lot on Javascript. But does it mean that we have to program? The same old question – programming is for power users. And, if you know Javascript, you will have a significant edge over the features of HTML5. Some features like Canvas and Geolocation purely work with Javascript. So go ahead learn it – ain't that difficult. And if you want to get fancy, try a little bit of jQuery also.

Please keep in your mind that not all features of HTML5 will work with all browsers. Of course, there are workarounds (again using Javascript) but you may have to test the implementation on multiple browsers. Use IE, Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Opera as your benchmark. In a year or two they will start supporting many of HTML5 new features. Is there a choice – I'm afraid, there isn't …

Finally, one last word about HTML5 – Is it a boon or a bane? You decide.

Thanks

Rajesh Menon (Guru30)

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