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In HTML5 First Look, author James Williamson introduces the newest HTML specification, providing a high-level overview of HTML5 in its current state, how it differs from HTML 4, the current level of support in various browsers and mobile devices, and how the specification might evolve in the future. Exercise files accompany the course.
If you stop for a moment and take a look at the bigger picture surrounding HTML5, we find ourselves in a very interesting time in the development of the web. Mobile devices are beginning to supplant the desktop browser as the primary consumer of online content, and software-as-a-service is no longer a novelty concept, but a proven commodity. In this environment, the evolution of HTML5 and other associated technologies isn't so much of a revolution as is an acknowledgment of the current state of the web.
In a perfect world, HTML5 will give us a new set of tools to make building online and mobile applications easier, and more portable. The reality of course is it is never quite as simple as this. Currently, we have a fragmented mixture of mobile development platforms vying for supremacy. Industry giants like Google and Apple simultaneously evangelizing standards while enhancing their own product lines in hopes of market share dominance and we have a crowded browser market with varying degrees of supports for standards and competing goals.
Where does that leave us? Pretty much where we've always been. The development of the web has been a glorious mess. It's a free market bazaar of shiny trinkets and discarded technology that has led us to this current point in time. That aspect of the web most certainly will not change. In fact, if there's one constant in the growth of the web and surrounding technologies, it's just that. Change. Try as the standards bodies might, issuing a recommendation or a standard is just that.
It's up to the implementers to make it work. With HTML5, there are promising signs that its implementation will be swift and fairly standardized. While contention remains around video support, protocols, and other aspects of the standard, I've been amazed at how much of the proposal has been implemented in browsers and devices in such a short amount of time. So what does this mean for designers and developers? Well, although HTML5 is not quite ready to take over just yet, there are many areas of the specification that you can use right now in your projects.
Although the specification is not projected to reach the recommendation stage until 2022, in reality it's going to be ready much, much sooner than that. I recommend checking out the specification in its entirety and determining which of the capabilities will bring the most value to your applications or sites. Track the adoption of those areas by browsers and devices and you'll be able to make an informed decision on when it makes sense to add those capabilities to your own projects. Currently, the work being done with audio, video, and local storage support are showing the most promise for early adoption.
Learning those three core technologies is crucial to anyone with a desire to author web sites. At any rate, don't wait! HTML5 is no longer just a curiosity or the answer to the question what's next. The interest level is high enough now among both authors and implementers, so that it really should only be a couple of years before the majority of the HTML5 specification is powering web sites and online applications everywhere.
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