Making Web Applications Faster Using HTML5

Michael Vizard

As the Web evolves into a platform for applications, as opposed to just being a medium for sharing documents and data, it's become pretty clear that HTML5is going to play a crucial role in transforming how the Web works from an application perspective.

At its core, HTML5 replaces SGML with a more modern, albeit backwards compatible, syntax and brings with it application programming interfaces for a much wider variety of media types. It also includes a new, more efficient communications framework that should reduce a lot of the latency and overhead associated with Web applications.

But IT organizations need to exercise a little caution when it comes to vendors claiming HTML5 support. There are a lot of HTML5 components overseen by different standards bodies that a vendor can choose to support in order to claim compatibility. For, example. a vendor may not need to support the entire HTML framework to make a compatibility claim. In fact, one place there is likely to be a lot of contention surrounding HTML5 is the communications framework.

The HTML5 communications framework promotes the concept of using Web Sockets to offload communication between applications over HTTP. By shifting that communications to a full-duplex Web socket, application performance across the Web is improved. Of course, an HTML5 application can run across a different communications framework, so Web Sockets are not an absolute requirement. Nevertheless, Google has signaled its intention to embrace Web Sockets in its Chrome browser.

One of the companies trying to drive the adoption of Web Sockets is Kaazing, which helped define much of the communications framework standard for HTML5. Kaazing makes a gateway that will allow existing HTML4 applications to take advantage of a Websockets communications engine. That gateway not only makes existing applications compatible with HTML5, it can also reduce the infrastructure overhead associated with Web applications by giving them a more efficient way to communicate, says Kaazing CTO John Fallows.

When it comes to all things HTML5, there are going to be a lot of nuances that chief technologists will have to keep tabs on. At the top of that list is paying close attention to the extent that companies such as Google, Microsoft and others support all HTML5 elements. In the meantime, the opportunity to significantly improve the performance of existing Web applications by embracing new communication frameworks could provide a significant performance edge over rivals trying to deliver Web application on top of much slower legacy frameworks that were never designed for applications in the first place.



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