HTML5 is Coming, but Not Without Drama

Carl Weinschenk

It's widely acknowledged that video is a vital part of the Internet's present and will become even more important as time passes. There are still questions on the best way to handle this demanding class of applications. The stakes are high, and opinions are strongly held. Apple, for instance, has refused to support Flash, one of the main platforms today.


Some experts suggest that the next version of the Hyper Text Markup Protocol, HTML5, will solve the problem by including video and other advanced functionality and, thus, making add-ons and extensions unnecessary. The latest validation of HTLM5 came from Google, which was reported by FierceCIO to be giving it a prominent role in the coming version of the popular Gmail webmail service.


HTML is not being adopted by acclamation, however. For instance, YouTube has said, in essence, that HTML5 is terrific but isn't ready to displace Flash, which it will continue to support. The story quotes extensively from a YouTube blog post. The story and the post say that Flash remains the most secure approach and that it is the best way to perform a number of tasks.


The sense of the piece is that while HTML5 may not be there yet, it only is a matter of time. The march to support it continues, however. Last week, Microsoft released the latest update to Internet Explorer 9 (IE9). Computerworld writes that the IE9 Platform Preview is "a very bare bones interface wrapped around Microsoft's newest rendering and JavaScript engines" that the company is periodically updating until the beta is released. The story said that the latest update supports Canvas, an element that speeds the browser's performance.


Those who feel that the adoption of HTML5 is a slam dunk should read this long and interesting article by CNET's Stephen Shankland. The bottom line is that what is now called HTML5 was the work of a group called the Web Hypertext Application Working Group (WHATWG) formed by Opera Software, Mozilla and Apple. The step was taken when the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)-the group responsible for the last update of HTML in 1999-introduced the XHTML2, a proposed advanced framework that Shankland essentially calls a flop. W3G now is trying to influence HTML5, and that has led to tensions and incompatibilities. Shankland describes them and suggests that they are not core. However, they can't be making life easy for developers working on the standard.


HTML definitely is coming, but adoption will be a long and slow process. And, with so many bright people and big egos involved, its ascendency won't be totally devoid of drama.

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