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What HTML5 is (and what it isn't)

From: HTML5 First Look

Video: What HTML5 is (and what it isn't)

Before we began exploring HTML5 in more detail, it's worth taking a moment to discuss what HTML5 actually is, as opposed to what the current hype machine is defining it as. Now, I suspect I'm fighting a losing battle here because the current state of affairs seems to be taking any relatively new feature or a cool browser trick and slapping the HTML5 label on it. Now recently, Apple launched its HTML5 Showcase page, featuring six really cool demos of features like transitions, next-generation typography, and video support.

What HTML5 is (and what it isn't)

Before we began exploring HTML5 in more detail, it's worth taking a moment to discuss what HTML5 actually is, as opposed to what the current hype machine is defining it as. Now, I suspect I'm fighting a losing battle here because the current state of affairs seems to be taking any relatively new feature or a cool browser trick and slapping the HTML5 label on it. Now recently, Apple launched its HTML5 Showcase page, featuring six really cool demos of features like transitions, next-generation typography, and video support.

The only problem was that only two of the examples featured HTML5 capabilities, the audio and video demos. The rest were collection of CSS3, JavaScript, and Safari-only CSS extensions. Now while stunning, they weren't strictly HTML5. Now I'm not just picking on Apple. It seems like every tech blog, publication, or demo site out there can't wait to throw the HTML5 label on any new browser capability or web application technique they come across.

In a now famous post on his blog Software As She's Developed, Michael Mahemoff declared that HTML5 has now become a brand, representing a new type of web application rather than the specification itself. I think he has a point. Now in the overall scheme of things, how the term HTML5 is co-opted as a marketing tool really isn't that important. As a guide for learning HTML5, it's very important that you understand the difference. Now, it's not uncommon for example, to hear CSS transitions, web sockets geolocation, SVG and @font-face mentioned under the HTML5 banner.

Now if you go poking through the HTML5 specification, you won't find a trace of them. That's because they either belong to the CSS3 specification or other API specifications within the World Wide Web Consortium. Well it's clear that future web sites and applications will be built using on combination of HTML5, next-generation APIs, JavaScript and CSS3, as a designer or developer you need a clear understanding of each of these technologies, and how they fit together. Something that's getting a little harder to do the more the term HTML5 becomes confused.

Now, perhaps the most alarming trend recently has been the introduction of browser proprietary features that are then labeled under web standards. Mozilla, Opera, and WebKit, all feature proprietary CSS properties that require web designers to write much more complex code to achieve cross-browser results. While some of these are the results of specific browsers wanting to implement standards that aren't finished yet, many are motivated by the desire to gain an edge in the increasingly competitive browser field. Now this type of behavior isn't limited to CSS either.

Apple's native video support in Safari supports QuickTime movie files when QuickTime is installed and uses a proprietary technology for streaming video. Now, anybody can admire the quality of these features but Apple lists them in their support of web standards in HTML5. Although they are restricted to the Safari Browser. So what is HTML5? Well, using a strict definition, it's a continuation of previous HTML specifications in the DOM Level 2, designed to address how modern web applications are created.

There are enhancements to syntax and semantics, the deprecation of presentational elements, and formal definitions for many of the APIs that form the foundation of most web applications. Now these include video, audio, dragging and dropping, offline applications, and canvas. So if we step back a bit, it gives us a broader perspective that HTML5 is focused on creating a consistent browsing experience and in turning the browser into more of an actual application platform. If adopted by user agents, designers, and developers, it should represent a significant evolution in the future of the web.

On the other hand, if the term becomes co-opted and used to label proprietary or unrelated technology, we could find ourselves in a situation very similar to what we had in the late 90s where designers often had to create multiple versions of sites to work across multiple browsers. Now that's why understanding what HTML5 is and then supporting the resulting standards is an important part of determining how future web applications will be built.

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This video is part of

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HTML5 First Look

50 video lessons · 73655 viewers

James Williamson
Author

 
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  1. 3m 56s
    1. Welcome
      1m 1s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 50s
    3. Who is this course for?
      1m 5s
  2. 21m 12s
    1. Exploring prior standards
      4m 26s
    2. Why do we need HTML5?
      3m 32s
    3. HTML5 timeline
      4m 24s
    4. Current HTML5 support
      4m 25s
    5. What HTML5 is (and what it isn't)
      4m 25s
  3. 27m 49s
    1. HTML5 vs. HTML4
      3m 25s
    2. New structural tags
      6m 1s
    3. New content tags
      4m 7s
    4. New application-focused tags
      5m 32s
    5. Deprecated elements
      4m 28s
    6. API overview
      4m 16s
  4. 22m 29s
    1. Content models
      5m 33s
    2. Understanding the outline algorithm
      3m 21s
    3. The role of ‹div› tags
      4m 20s
    4. Using ID and class attributes
      2m 6s
    5. DOCTYPE declarations
      4m 16s
    6. Character encoding
      2m 53s
  5. 41m 27s
    1. Basic page structure
      3m 40s
    2. Structuring top-level elements
      7m 30s
    3. Structuring interior content
      8m 42s
    4. Building headers
      9m 11s
    5. Checking document outlines
      5m 46s
    6. Ensuring cross-browser structure
      6m 38s
  6. 27m 53s
    1. New input types
      5m 57s
    2. Setting form autofocus
      2m 53s
    3. Using placeholder data
      4m 4s
    4. Marking required fields
      3m 24s
    5. Working with number inputs
      5m 49s
    6. Using date pickers
      5m 46s
  7. 1h 1m
    1. Canvas overview
      6m 21s
    2. Adding canvas content
      8m 58s
    3. Drawing in the canvas environment
      12m 9s
    4. Drag-and-drop API overview
      6m 18s
    5. Offline applications overview
      7m 11s
    6. Video overview
      5m 45s
    7. Encoding video
      8m 23s
    8. Adding video
      5m 58s
  8. 57m 33s
    1. Geolocation API overview
      5m 50s
    2. Web storage API overview
      5m 40s
    3. WebSockets overview
      4m 16s
    4. CSS3 overview
      6m 38s
    5. Enhancing typography with CSS3
      7m 42s
    6. Using @font-face
      7m 11s
    7. Styling HTML5 with CSS3
      10m 23s
    8. Using CSS3 transitions
      9m 53s
  9. 5m 6s
    1. Final thoughts
      3m 49s
    2. Goodbye
      1m 17s

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