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Why do we need HTML5?

From: HTML5 First Look

Video: Why do we need HTML5?

One of the most basic questions asked about HTML5 is why do we need it? If HTML 4 provided such a stable foundation for the web and enjoys such widespread support, do we really need to change it? Well, the short answer is yes, but let's take a moment to explore the reasons behind the push for HTML5. Now, first, it's important to realize that contrary to popular belief, HTML5 is not attempting to reinvent the wheel. The specification for HTML5 is huge, over 900 pages long, and almost twice as long as the one for HTML 4.

Why do we need HTML5?

One of the most basic questions asked about HTML5 is why do we need it? If HTML 4 provided such a stable foundation for the web and enjoys such widespread support, do we really need to change it? Well, the short answer is yes, but let's take a moment to explore the reasons behind the push for HTML5. Now, first, it's important to realize that contrary to popular belief, HTML5 is not attempting to reinvent the wheel. The specification for HTML5 is huge, over 900 pages long, and almost twice as long as the one for HTML 4.

Not all of that is dedicated to new features. One of the main reasons that HTML5 was favored over XHTML 2 was the fact that it remains backwards compatible with previous versions of HTML. That means that any user agent written to support HTML5 also has to support documents written in earlier versions of HTML. That doesn't sound like a big deal, but there are millions of HTML documents that are currently online that would suddenly stop working if backwards compatibility were not addressed. Now, the larger issue here is that earlier HTML specifications were rather vague about what to do with badly formed code.

This left error handling and parsing rules up to the user agents to figure out and implement. XHTML attempted to address this by adding stricter rules and in XHTML 2.0, draconian error handling that would stop rendering a page as soon as errors were detected. Now, a major part of the HTML5 specification attempts to deal with these issues. There are algorithms that define parsing rules for user agents that not only define how valid syntax should be parsed, but how errors should be handled as well.

Now, believe it or not, this level of detail is actually quite controversial. Some feel that HTML's role is to provide the syntax and allow the user agent to determine how the object model around that syntax should be created. Others feel that this level of detail will create a level of consistency across user agents that we've never seen before. Now, theoretically, it's going to allow designers and developers to write HTML without worrying about the differences between user agents or even devices. Now, in truth, whether it works or not is largely up to how the specification will be adopted by those that choose to support it.

Now, of course, there are many new features in HTML5 that attempt to address how the web has evolved over the last decade or so. New semantic elements like the section and article tags will give pages additional structure and meaning, especially helpful for blogs and other applications. Now, speaking of applications, at first glance, items like APIs, local storage, and support for video and audio seem radical when introduced into an HTML specification. The truth however is that this simply reflects the needs of modern web design.

Over the past decade, web sites have become increasingly reliant on JavaScript and third-party plug-ins for much of the web's functionality. The HTML5 spec attempts to address this by bringing much of this functionality directly to the browser. This should reduce the need for third- party tools and plug-ins, formalize how certain applications are built, and increase the connection between JavaScript and the browser. In fact, far from being a radical departure from other HTML specifications, HTML5 attempts to address the deficiencies of HTML 4 and mature the language into a more capable mobile and web authoring tool.

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HTML5 First Look

50 video lessons · 76079 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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