The rise of HTML5

As the owner of an iPhone and an iPad mini (thank you, Santa!) I will openly admit that I do not like Flash. There is no Adobe Flash Player for iOS devices, so when visiting a site with Flash videos, I only see the replacement text that the website has supplied. And, like all the other iOS users in Internetland, I immediately click “back” and contribute to the site’s already high bounce rate. Although it is rare that I come across a Flash site any more, I will be glad when HTML5 is the language of choice for most websites. Not only is it a great alternative to Flash, many of its features were designed to run on low-powered devices, making HTML5 sites very smartphone-friendly.

If you’ve not heard of HTML5, I’ll give you the basics. Like spoken languages, the internet has different languages (and dialects!) which make up the code behind the pages. The newest and shiniest variant of the HTML language is HTML5, which will eventually replace HTML 4 and XHTML 1. HTML5 also has elements which can replicate the experience of Adobe’s Flash audio and video, which for years was the best way of providing a rich and interactive user experience. Where Flash requires browser plug-ins or add-ons, as well as a lot of RAM and processing time, meaning it doesn’t run well on mobile devices, HTML5 offers a quicker and simpler alternative.    

Before the rise of the iPhone and iPad, Flash was nearly everywhere, meaning something was definitely missing from HTML: it needed to be able to play multimedia in an interactive way. HTML5 was created to work with JavaScript and CSS to give the same experience of Flash, but in a lighter, more modern and standard way. It has been well-received and is spreading quicker than anticipated:

  • YouTube is currently in trials to replace Flash with HTML5 as the default player for all videos.
  • 153 Fortune 500 companies had implemented HTML5 on their corporate websites as of August 2013. (INCORE Digital)
  • Adobe is no longer developing a version of Flash for mobile devices, instead focusing on tools which use HTML5.

As well as the integration of Scalable Vector Graphics (like in Flash videos) and MathML for mathematical formulas, HTML5 has loads of nifty new elements like <audio> and <video> and new APIs that can be used with JavaScript. One interesting API is the new Geolocation API, which allows a website to see the geographical location of a user, and perhaps direct them to a language-appropriate version of their site. However, this API does require the user to approve the geolocate request, so there are perhaps better ways of finding a website visitor’s location. Contact our eMarketing team for more information about geolocation.