HTML5 is a specification which is used for developing web browsers like Internet Explorer.  It helps to define what the browser should do.

What is the point of HTML5?

Compatibility Issues

The problem with web development is that there are significant differences between various web browsers.  This includes differences between newer versions of a specific browsers such as Internet Explorer and differences between rival browsers.  Also there are a number of plug-in tools (e.g. Flash) which may need to be installed.

HTML5 aims to consolidates a number of web technologies into an open standard that will work consistently across multiple browsers without installing plug-ins.

Semantic Markup

In addition to providing a solution to compatibility issues, HTML5 also allows developers to create mark-up code which is more meaningful.  When learning HTML (as an experienced developer) I remember that it was very confusing to find mark-up tags which convey no meaning, for example <div>.  This is a generic container which does not give any indication as to the type of content that is contained within.  The fix may be to create a div with a class for example
<div class="article">article goes here</div>

HTML5 provides a much better solution, for example
<article>article goes her</article>

The difference is that article is defined by HTML5 where as class="article" is defined by the coder. This provides the browser with additional meta data about the content of the tag.

Other Features of HTML5

Strictly speaking, some of these features are not part of the HTML5 specifications but are contained in related specification documents.

  • New input types for Forms
  • Video and Audio
  • Vector Graphics
  • Client data storage and web page caching
  • Drag and drop from browser to desktop or between browser windows
  • Geolocation
  • Concurrency in client code
  • Web pages that are constantly connected to the server

Support for HTML5

There has been much debate about what should go into the new standard.  Many features are based on feedback from users, feedback from browser vendors and a number of central HTML gurus.  Some parts of the standards have not been finalised and browser vendors have not fully implemented the standards however most of the standards are still useful in the real world.

Some features of HTML5 are supported even in older browsers and it is possible to create sites that use HTML5 but still work on browsers that do not support features.  This is done with various work arounds.  The biggest problem is that Internet Explorer 8 does not support HTML5 and it is still in common use on older machines  Windows XP machines. To see details about current browser support click on a link below.



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