HTML5, the ambitious successor to HTML4.01/XHTML 1.0, was created with the intentions of improving the way the code is used by developers and understood by computers. New technology dawned new challenges for the code, and this latest version has been designed to deal with added applications while also attempting to further perfect the manner in which it handles previously existing issues.
This week, we talked to LB's own front-end auteur Jonathan Pacheco to see what he found useful about the newest version of HTML versus its predecessors.
While this feature isn't necessarily anything new, HTML5 does differ in that it puts more focus than ever before on the use of semantic tags. While a <i> and <b> may still display text in italics and bold respectively, tags like <em> (short for emphasis) and <strong> continue to grow in popular preference due to their more descriptive characteristics of their function.
According to Jonathan, this evolution is due in part to a shift from an internal focus of understanding among developers to an external focus of computers' ability to comprehend the coding embedded in web pages. HTML5 further encourages this transformation with the addition of semantic tags like <section>, <nav> and <article>.
Forms Made Easier
HTML5 has made the coding of forms much easier for developers like Jonathan by recognizing some of the useful functions of form data entry and making them standard. This includes features like disappearing/reappearing instructional placeholder text (i.e. 'Enter you e-mail address here') and the ability to recognize the format (e-mail address) and accept only the correct format (email@example.com). When using some devices (i.e. certain touchscreen smartphones and tablets), HTML5's ability to convey this information also simplifies the data entry process by automatically providing the user with needed keys to complete the information, like the '@' or '.com' key for e-mail addresses or URLs.
Okay, we lied: the Geolocation Application Program Interface (API) isn't part of HTML5, but we think it belongs in every HTML5 conversation. The standardization, emergence and increasing usage of the API, especially in the mobile world, perfectly coincides with HTML5's push to empower developers to provide users with a more convenient, customized experience.
IP addresses have had the ability to determine location on a city level, but with the users' permission, HTML5's Geolocation feature has the ability to more accurately identify where users are and tailor their web experience accordingly. This includes informing users of nearby businesses that match their search and using general demographic and psychographic information to suggest services that are more likely to be of interest to users.
HTML5's canvas element simplifies the dynamic rendering of 2D graphics such as graphs, games and animation. The <canvas> tag and API simplifies the process of programming images that will change in response to the user's commands or information.
For example, Jonathan says, a user could input information that is then dynamically rendered as a graph that displays the information given. If the user alters the information, the graph will change accordingly --- thanks to HTML5's canvas function --- otherwise, each potential graph would have to be designed in advance in order to be available for display. The canvas element can be used as an alternative to Flash, which has proven to be difficult for some online devices to read.
Overall, Jonathan had this to say about HTML5:
"The new technologies, techniques and APIs under the HTML5 banner aren't just shiny new toys for geeks to tinker with. They're helping evolve the web, making the creation process easier and more flexible for developers, allowing them to focus even more on crafting convenient and fun user experiences."
It seems that Jonathan, like thousands of other developers, is excited about the latest developments made possible with HTML5. It just may be the best thing to happen to the web… that is until HTML6 is created.
Post brought to you by: Savannah Harper, LB Wordsmith and Jonathan Pacheco, LB Front-End Auteur