HTML5 Looks Good in Light of Google, Facebook and IAB Moves

Carl Weinschenk

As the first anniversary of its official publication by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) approaches, HTML5 has made tremendous progress. The young browser markup language has consolidated its gradual gains and further distanced itself from legacy browsers.

The value proposition of HTML5 is that it performs tasks within its basic functionality that in the past required users to download and install plugins. HTML5’s ascendance was solidified by a few recent announcements. The most important were Facebook’s decision to use the markup language, The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) move to fully enfranchise HTML5, and Google’s decision to stop supporting Flash plugins in its Chrome browser.

The idea is that HTML5 now is viable for most Web-based display tasks. Al Hilwa, the program director for Software Development Research at IDC, suggested that HTML5 is a major tool as the types of devices proliferate.


“HTML5 is making slow and steady progress,” Hilwa wrote in response to emailed questions. “It will be helped greatly by the wind-down we are seeing now in plugin usage and by the settling down of the HTML video battles. HTML5 is generally capable of handling typical needs of front-end Web usage and the need for plugins is declining.”

The IAB Has Its Say

Nowhere is the relegating of plugins to the dust bin of technology history a bigger deal than in the world of Web-based advertising. The move by the IAB, which was made in mid-August, leaves no doubt about where the IAB thinks the future is.

CarlQuote20150922The organization released the “IAB Display Creative Guidelines” for public comment on August 17. It is, according to the organization, “an overhaul that fully embraces HTML5.” The new approach will change key specifications, such as file weights and packaging, for optimal load performance when HTML5 is employed, the organization said. The IAB also said it is developing the “HTML5 For Digital Advertising Guide.”

The bottom line is that the IAB believes HTML5 will grow. There were two main reasons for making the move, according to Scott Cunningham, the senior vice president of the IAB and general manager of the IAB Tech Lab. He indicated that HTLM5 is the only markup language that can work ubiquitously across all popular devices and platforms to present advertisements and that the organization reacted to decreasing support for Flash.

The Flash issue is another sure sign that the industry believes HTML5 is ready for primetime.

“Audience capable of viewing and experiencing Flash Ads has been diminishing over the years due to growth in mobile devices and steps taken by browsers to improve performance that limit Flash plugin capabilities to render display creative as crafted by ad designers,” according to Cunningham.

Cunningham’s point about the fading of Flash was echoed by Chrome’s announcement that Flash ads would not be supported on the browser going forward. That’s an especially big deal because Chrome is now the fastest-growing browser. HTML5’s multimedia capabilities are powerful.

“This allows an ad to natively enable immersive and responsive user experiences without the need for additional plugins or their dependencies,” Cunningham wrote. “In addition, it introduces other powerful capabilities like geolocation and semantics that can also help ads serve more relevant content.”

HTML5

Developers Getting on Board

Developers are starting to move to HTML5 as well, according to Strategy Analytics which, during the first quarter, conducted its 6th Annual Developer Survey. It showed, according to survey participant Sencha, the strongest developer participation yet for the markup language. Support for HTML5 among developers will enjoy a 20 percent growth rate, according to the survey, and 63 present of enterprise apps being created are written in HTLM5.

For developers, an all-important group, Gautam Agrawal, the senior director of Product Management at Sencha – one of the participants in the Strategy Analytics study – said that a key draw of HTML5 is that it is a road around the great fragmentation of today’s landscape.

The emergence of a great and ever-growing number of form factors and operating systems makes writing natively – for each device – increasingly impracticable. HTML5 has reached a maturity level and sophistication in which its ability to create and present rich content without relying on the device and its operating system makes it a preferred alternative.

Challenges remain, which is not surprising, considering the fact that HTML5 is so young. Agrawal says that there still is room for improvement in areas such as working offline and in graphics-intensive apps. The move to HTML5 will accelerate as JavaScript programmers move to the new markup language. “The pool [of HTML5 developers] is much larger now,” Agrawal said.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at cweinsch@optonline.net and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.



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