HTML5 – how to decide if it’s right for you

HTML5, for many of us, is the future of the web. But not everybody shares our enthusiasm. Worries over the fact that it is not a finalised standard yet, the so far limited number of authoring tools available, the concern about people on IE6 with JavaScript turned off all make some people reticent to take the plunge.

Of course, a big part of this is that HTML5 is new. It means we’ll all have to learn some stuff (although personally, that’s one of the things I love). It also makes many people nervous about deploying big projects on it in case they fall over in ways the developers don’t understand.

So why would you make the move right now?

HTML5 is better for video

While Flash has largely ruled the web in terms of delivering video, it can be a hassle to implement. It’s easy to get tied up in the mass of parameters required to get video to act the way you want it to. HTML5, however, implements the simplicity of the <video> tag which is far closer to the way existing HTML treats images.

Of course, apart from the code being simpler and more elegant, this also means you get access to all the no-Flash-no-way i-devices.

HTML5 produces better code

HTML5 sometimes gets blasted for adding a whole bunch of new tags into the mix. This is true. It’s also true that for some applications, you may need to use a couple more tags than you’re used to. But for most sites, most of the time, HTML5 leads to simpler, more elegant code. Now, most visitors won’t notice (as long as it works) but with less complexity comes less scope for errors. And that matters a lot. (BTW, check out Chris Coyier’s post on “What Beautiful Code Looks Like” – love it.)

HTML5 is better for mobile

An ever growing number of people are accessing the web via smartphones and tablets. This will only increase for the foreseeable future. A huge number of these are using iPhones and iPads – 1 in 4 of whom watch video on their devices. Add to this, Adobe’s decision to drop development of Flash for mobile and this means HTML5 is likely to become the only viable option for delivering rich experiences on the move.

So, if mobile matters to you, so should HTML5.

HTML5 is better for interactivity

We all want to create richer, more immersive sites. For a long time, Flash has done this just fine. Now, with HTML5, you can add even greater interactivity with a bunch of useful APIs, new tags such as the <canvas> drawing tag and the ability to directly interact with smartphone features such as the accelerometer and GPS. (BTW check out some of Hakim El Hattab’s experiments – my favourite is Bacterium.)

Ultimately, I firmly believe that HTML5 is a case of when not if. It offers up new opportunities for developers. And it does it all while still playing nice with older browsers.

Some other links to check out:

5 Reasons Why You Can Use HTML5 Today

Five Ways to Decide if HTML5 is For You

HTML5 Audio and Video: What You Must Know

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