September 28, 2012

New Appcelerator-IDC Survey Finds Developers Not Happy with HTML5

Much more often than not, when we write about HTML5 we do so from a very positive perspective, and we continue to believe that HTML5 is rapidly evolving into a strong and proven platform for creating all but the most demanding consumer and business applications. For the most part, developers we speak to agree with us, and companies such as Adobe, Sencha and appMobi (NewsAlert) have seen significant uptake of their HTML5 platforms.

We were a bit surprised, then, to see in the just released Q3 2012 quarterly Appcelerator-IDC (NewsAlert) survey, which this time around interviewed a very substantial 5,526 developer panel, that not all is quite as well in the land of HTML5 as one might believe. One cannot make light of the sample size as it is substantial, and what the survey notes is well worth considering.

The survey specifically focused on the issue of developers’ overall contentment with HTML5-based applications. The survey therefore asked the respondents to rate their satisfaction with a number of key features supported by the emerging standard.

The survey report makes mention of Facebook’s (NewsAlert) recent move away from HTML5, which we have also covered. In that article we acknowledged Facebook’s desire to develop a mobile device interface experience that would be much crisper than the company’s current mobile interface was able to deliver. Nevertheless, we did not feel Facebook’s retreat was a negative view of HTML5.

The chart below shows exactly what the survey has uncovered about HTML5.

The chart shows an interesting set of issues. On the positive side, clearly HTML5 retains its user satisfaction numbers in terms of its ability to deliver a true cross-development environment. As well, the ability to get updates of applications out the door quickly retains a positive satisfaction level.

Things become dicey, however, on a relatively large number of fronts. The issue of monetization, which tops the list with an 83.4 percent neutral to dissatisfaction rating, is interesting. We wish the survey had done a deeper dive on that, but we suspect that the issue comes down to one of getting HTML5-based apps out into the market. Are developers worried about a lack of app store capability? Are they worried about a lack of ecosystems such as the Apple (News Alert) App Store and Google Play? For enterprise developers these are non-issues; enterprise application stores are easy to build and support.

For developers looking to build mobile apps they may be looking to market for $1 (or whatever price point is appropriate) to a million individual users, the availability of an ecosystem becomes crucial, and it is true that for HTML5 apps an easy path to a viable ecosystem to sell them does not currently exist. The other issues, however, puzzle us a bit. Distribution control can be related to the ecosystem issue.

In cases where performance and user experience, for example, are extremely critical (such as for rapid-fire, high-twitch factor gaming environments – or, let’s say it, Facebook mobile apps) HTML5 would not be the right choice. Building highly secure apps is really a question of infrastructure security, rather than pure app security. We’re not sure we understand fragmentation issues here – the beauty of HTML5-based apps is that they are built around standardized HTML/HTML5, JavaScript and CSS (NewsAlert).

We’re not sure what “timeliness of new updates” refers to exactly, but HTML5 is mostly baked.

Ultimately, it strikes us that perhaps a great many developers are in need of a lot more information about HTML5. There may be room for most of the HTML5 vendors (and sites such as TMCnet) to put more effort into the HTML5 educational process. Let us know – we’re here to help!

The Appcelerator-IDC report covers a great deal more mobile ground than HTML 5. To learn more about the report or to download the full report, visit Appcelerator.

Want to learn more about HTML5? Then be sure to attend HTML5 Summit- a DEVCON5 Event, collocated with ITEXPO Austin 2012 taking place Oct. 2-5, in Austin, TX. Stay in touch with everything happening at HTML Summit. Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Braden Becker


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