November 5, 2014

HTML5 Just Turned 18

By José Magalhães | 3 min read

HTML5 Just Turned 18

It took 6 years after the first draft of HTML5 to finally get the standard specification complete and released, as confirmed by W3C a week ago. 6 years of back and forth, bug squashing and proliferation of features among all the major browser players.

But you may be wondering, what’s so special about HTML5? It’s the very first cross platform technology that runs in almost all conceivable devices, from your laptop to your wearables, cars, home appliances, the internet of things (IoT). There are little to none boundaries to where HTML5 can reach. If there’s a browser, you can run it, and even if there’s no browser, it’s possible to run it behind web views and other browser-like solutions.

When it comes to web development, we all know the hell that has been in the beginning of the century, and we are not talking about the year 2000 bug, we are talking about numerous browsers to support, each with their own custom APIs to engage with and with their own limitations and bugs. Now thanks to HTML5 we can find the same APIs across different browsers, giving us simple interfaces to engage with the device’s hardware and protocols to transmit data all over the web. All done with JavaScript.

In spite of many tries to replace JavaScript role, one of the most loved and hated languages in the industry, with HTML5 we can say that JavaScript is the official HTML scripting language and that won’t probably change in the years to come. Moreover, JavaScript can even run on the server side with Node.js, and certainly other engines are yet to come. It will be interesting to see some of these new APIs outside of the browser as well, right?

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In case you haven’t been using HTML5, what can you expect from it, now that it has been emancipated? You can have real-time communication through WebRTC and WebSockets, persist data, create threads through WebWorkers, play complex 3D games thanks to WebGL, check the device network and battery status, well, the possibilities are endless, like an 18-year-old. Besides these great new APIs, there are some new HTML tags that give semantic value to your content, making it possible for search engines to better crawl and classify your content, not just that, but screen readers will also be able to give a far better experience to the visually impaired.

What about tomorrow? With the rise of full-fledged HTML5 applications we can replace our old software, which required us to download a setup package and then install it on a single computer, probably leaving us the dirty work to install it on other devices and sync the information.

We’re also talking about the cloud, because since the applications run on the browser, most certainly the data won’t be stored on your computer (though there are APIs for it) and you’ll be able to sync all your work across devices with no effort and no extra applications. Without relying on dreams, we can foresee a future where there won’t be operative systems (per si), you’ll just boot directly into a browser and everything will be there, at the distance of an URL. The downside of it? Well, you must be willing to trust your service providers with your privacy, one can guess that we’re doing that already.

Time has proven that the lack of standards can be a pain, though it makes changes possible. If we were afraid of facing the standards, we would probably be stuck with HTML4 forever. It took a long road to get us where we are. Now we can say that it only takes one step to have an application through multiple platforms, with a single code base. Now we can say that growing pains have finally paid off, and HTML5 adulthood seems promising.

As a final word, don't forget to download our free data sheet on JavaScript Security Threats, which provides an overview of the most relevant attacks and how to prevent them.

José Magalhães404 bio not found
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Projeto Co-Financiado por (Mais info)Norte 2020, Portugal 2020, FEDR