Expansion Ahead for HTML5 as Developer Interest Grows

Carl Weinschenk

Carl Weinschenk spoke with Todd Anglin, the vice president of HTML5 and mobile tools at Telerik’s Kendo UI division, which offers a comprehensive framework for building websites and mobile apps with HTML and JavaScript. Last month, Kendo UI released its Global Developer Survey, which looked at HTML5 adoption.

The emergence of HTML5 will be one of the big stories of 2013 — at least according to the folks at Telerik, makers of the Kendo UI product family. Anglin said that the wide acceptance of HTML5 by major companies has led to wide use by developers. He told IT Business Edge blogger Carl Weinschenk that projects from high-profile organizations — including Firefox and Chrome — means that acceptance will accelerate during 2013.

Weinschenk: What did the survey set out to research?

Anglin: The survey for us is important as a vendor who creates HTML5 tools. We have a lot invested in understanding the adoption and sentiment around the platform. There unquestionably is hype and a lot of media interest around this. We wanted to survey developers and get a picture of who, how and where it has been adopted and validate what other analysts and reports suggest.

A key question is whether it is still true that it is years away — or is it being pushed out more aggressively? What does HTML5 adoption look today? What are developers’ feelings toward HTML5? Are they positive, are there concerns? Related to this is gauging the impact on the developer community of things happening in the industry around HTML5. Things like Facebook saying it is going native and issues with the standards bodies. How do those things impact attitudes?

We surveyed about 4,000 developers over two weeks in September. Some were Kendo UI customers and some were not.

Weinschenk: What was the top takeaway?

Anglin: I think right out the gate one of most important takeaways is that HTML5 is being adopted now. Developers are working with it now and using it now. It is not in the hype bubble. It is here now and it is being used. Eighty-two percent of developers found it to be important to their jobs now or will be within the next 12 months.

Gartner published a report — and others say — that they are on a longer curve of adoption and that there may not be real adoption until 2015. We were skeptical of that. We found there is a great deal of excitement. We found some confirmation that developers are not waiting on HTML5 but are adopting aggressively.

Weinschenk: Why would analysts such as Gartner come to such a different conclusion than you?

Anglin: There are a couple of possibilities on why the conclusions are different: The calculus of how you project future technology platform adoption — the way we create those projections — is changing with HTML5. It looks like Gartner projections on HTML5 used the mask and assumptions that were successful in the past. We say HTML5 is being deployed and advanced differently than anything in the history of software platforms. The list of companies using it includes no less than Microsoft, Google, Amazon, HP, Oracle and others. You can pick names out of a hat of big companies and they use HTML5. That never happened for a modern software platform.

All previous projects were walled gardens: Java, .NET, php and others. HTML5 is different. There is broad vendor support, so there broad developer support. I think that recognition in the way it is evolving leads to the difference in the projections. That’s the fundamental difference. Has there also been a mini explosion of development [between previous research and Kendo UIs]? That is a possibility as well.

Weinschenk: It seems to speak to a more fundamental change.

Anglin: There is a huge shift happening in software development. For 20 years, companies targeted one operating system, Windows, and one platform, the desktop PC. Now it is more than one platform or form factor. Now there is Windows, Mac iOS, Android and all kinds of form factors — PCs, tablet PCs, phones [and others]. How do we create software in a cost-effective way for all the different platforms and/or form factors? The one platform that can do it all is HTML5. That’s why I think it’s so popular and critical.

Eight-two percent of developers are finding it important. That’s the top takeaway. Related to that is that we found 63 percent of respondents are actively developing with HTML5 right now. More interesting is that only 6 percent had no plans to use HTML5 in 2012. Ninety-four percent of the surveyed audience is using or planning to use it in 2012. That is a pretty significant portion. If you overlay that with the 82 percent, not even a skeptic could suggest that it is a technology you can ignore. Companies that choose to ignore it are doing so at their own peril. It’s not a niche technology. It’s a prevailing movement that software developers should take note of.

Weinschenk: What else did the survey dive into?

Anglin: There was one other high-level takeaway: How much external events and factors are impacting HTML5. That deals with things such as Facebook’s decision to launch a native app for iOS and move away from HTML5. It got a lot of attention. How is that impacting opinion? We found HTML5 developers are nonplussed by the Facebook announcement. Some developers — perhaps 10 to 15 percent — have more confidence. A similar number have less.

It is interesting and ironic that more than half of developers surveyed didn’t know Facebook was using HTML5 until the news came out. That was actually a big complement to HTML5. The reality is that good apps are good apps, bad apps are bad apps.

The fact that a large technical audience couldn’t tell the difference between a native and HTML5 app showed that it is a good app. Fifty-two percent of developers didn’t know Facebook was using HTML5. If you strip the controversy around Zuckerberg’s comments and analysts’ reactions, the fact is that Facebook built one of most popular iOS apps in world and satisfied the largest social networking site in the world using HTML5. That … absolutely is a confidence builder.

Weinschenk: Is there an internal challenge for developers in getting organizations to accept HTML5, or is it all inside baseball for developers and nobody else cares?

Anglin: End users — business users — don’t care how apps are produced. They want the functions they want. It has to be usable and meet expectations. If developers do it with HTML5 or whatever else, it is not a concern. The CIO may have a concern on how much it costs, so since HTML5 is written once for multiple platforms it has an advantage in the cost department.

Weinschenk: Where are we in the continuum of HTML5 adoption?

Anglin: I think we are at the beginning of mainstream adoption. We see a high degree of adoption. In 2013 we have three HTML operating systems in development: the Firefox OS, the Chrome OS and Tizan.

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