November 21, 2013

Websites Illustrate Power of HTML5 Enhancements

According to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C (NewsAlert)), HTML5 is not an official standard yet. Nonetheless, several websites are taking advantage of its new features and serve as excellent examples of where web page development is heading.

One of the key tenets of HTML5 philosophy is to reduce dependence on plugins like Flash. Support for media is built into the language and appears in the form of tags like audio and video. With JavaScript, HTML5 has a geolocation library that would be useful for mapping applications.

Support for graphic elements is also improved in HTML5. The new canvas tag (NewsAlert) defines a region on the screen to facilitate the drawing and display of graphics. HTML5 also provides inline scalable vector graphics where a graphic is defined through XML. Gradients and drop shadow effects are some of the display features built into the latest version of the language.

Other elements deal with the structure and presentation of text. Article tags define content that makes sense on its own while aside tags do just the opposite, providing text that is ancillary in importance, like a sidebar. Footers and headers, command buttons, dialog boxes, progress indicators and elements that support East Asian typography are among the other new features.

Cascading style sheets (CSS (NewsAlert)) have long provided powerful reformatting capabilities to HTML pages. CSS3 is the latest release and when used with HTML5, has the potential to make web pages that begin to resemble traditional executable programs.

Adobe’s Expressive Web Beta is a good example of this capability. One demonstration shows a crude stick figure running and jumping over hurdles. In an era where video games are so detailed that they seem lifelike, this might not seem like much, but in HTML-land it’s powerful. This was done without external components like plugins or ActiveX controls, using only HTML and CSS. It could certainly be made more sophisticated from a graphic standpoint.

As HTML5 becomes more widespread, look for the landscape to change when it comes to websites. The static black on white, Times New Roman sites of 1996 gave way to improved sites that allowed for richer formatting and used external components to show video and run executable content on web pages. With HTML5 and CSS3, those features will be more powerful and native to the language. 

Edited by Cassandra Tucker


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