The fifth revision of the HTML standard, finalized by the World Wide Web Consortium in October 2014, aimed to bring the web closer together than ever before by taking into account the latest technological advances and design trends. As the first revision since the HTML4 specifications were published in 1997, HTML5 standardized some of the best practices developers have been following for a while and added many new functions to enable intuitive cross-platform, feature-rich applications.
HTML5 as a whole was designed with the boom of mobile devices kept in mind, and many elements have been merged or simplified allowing developers to write code that is much more logical and readable. Responsive and mobile-first design is the approach usually taken these days when building a new web application, and HTML5 makes the process easier while providing end-users with a faster, attractive interface. It also brings many improvements to browser cross-compatibility by standardizing many of the slightly differing characteristics that have presented a nightmare for modern developers.
One of the most talked-about aspects of HTML5 is its built-in audio and video controls, which effectively eliminate the need for a third party plugin like Flash by adding <audio> and <video> elements. The days of compatibility issues are gone now that users with almost any device can stream audio or video from the most basic websites. This functionality has been requested for quite some time now, although some prefer the slightly better quality of Flash video, and Google has been spearheading the transition through its YouTube (News - Alert) platform.
There are many other additions that ensure accessibility for rich applications and minimize plugins, including functionality for displaying vector graphics (SVG files) and mathematical notations (MathML), the new <canvas> element for rendering and manipulating images easily without intermediate technologies such as jQuery, geolocation tools and APIs for many other tools such as offline caching and drag-and-drop.
The W3C (News - Alert) worked hard to ensure the HTML5 standard brought the technology up to date and provided a means for building sleek, modern applications with unprecedented simplicity and rich functionality. The organization’s focus has now shifted to smoothing out the wrinkles and bugs of the HTML5 standard while working on what will come with HTML5.1.
Edited by Maurice Nagle