What is HTML5 and why should I care?

HTML5
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Maybe you've heard of it, maybe you haven't, but HTML5, along with CSS3, is changing the face of development for the web and mobile markets. So, I'd like to take a moment to make a brief introduction to this new technology and explore some of the ways it will further help both developers and businesses utilize the online space to its great potential.

The basics of HTML5

HTML 5 is, wait for it… the fifth iteration of tried-and-true HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), a long-used and ever evolving language that forms the foundation of nearly every website ever built.

So, what's so special about #5?

HTML5 brings many new and valuable features and improvements to web and information design. These include:

It's Faster and Safer — HTML5 is slimmer and more semantic than its predecessors, meaning your website will load faster and content will reach your customers with more reliability. Thanks to many of HTML5's new features, you are now able to deliver multimedia content directly to users through the markup language, allowing developers to sidestep potential security flaws when using third-party browser plugins like Flash to deliver that same content.

Media Rich Features — The addition of the <canvas> and <video> tags to HTML5 is one of the biggest and most important shifts that web development has seen in years. These features allow HTML5 to compete directly with Flash in terms of not only serving video and audio content, but also with complex animations and dynamic content. With HTML5 alone, developers can now create websites with interactive features such as images, charts, and animations. Major services like YouTube, Vimeo and Netflix have already adopted HTML5 for their video streaming services, allowing that content to be accessed and played on all manner of devices, including web browsers, and Android and iOS devices.

A summary of the media rich features and tags added to HTML5 can be found in this article by J. Anderson, titled HTML5 is Here Now!.

Working Hand-in-hand with CSS3 — If we think of a website in terms of LEGO, HTML5 is a pile of white bricks and the instructions. Apply CSS3 to that and all of a sudden you have a beautiful castle with all the colours of the rainbow.

CSS3 is an big step forward over its predecessors for many reasons, one of the most important of which is the greater control that designers have over text and layout. Allowing developers to take a designer's work and construct it with semantic HTML5 and CSS3 code (rather than static images) means increased SEO, more interesting and navigable website layouts, and overall better content.

Some of CSS3's fun and basic features:

Shadowed Text

and

Rotation Effects (hover over me!)

But I'll let Richard get into the juicy bits of CSS3 at a later point. Just know this: it's awesome and exciting.

One of the big design and development philosophies that we practice at Upanup is responsive design. Building with HTML5 and CSS3 as a foundation allows a single website to be built that works fluidly and without hassle on any number of devices (from iPads to smartphones to modern web browsers). It eases the development process, saves money and improves the user experience. A win-win-win scenario, really. See Richard's recent blog post for a demonstration of how we use responsive design for the Upanup website.

Easy to Learn — This might not mean a whole lot for your end-user, but HTML5 and CSS3 is even easier for developers and designers to learn and master than previous languages. This allows them to really dig into the meat of the languages and utilize its most powerful features in whatever way is most beneficial to the product, without having to spend countless hours trying to suss out the means to do so.

Jumping ship to HTML5

Do you need to scrap your current website and build a new one with HTML5? Probably not — at least not right away — but it is a technology that should be on your radar when you're thinking of developing a new website or any other sort of digital application that might be put in front of your users. And, best of all, HTML5 can easily be integrated into any website that was built with a previous version of HTML. So, there's no time like the present to start thinking about how HTML5 integration might help you better reach your audience.

If you have 40 minutes on your hands, Google has a meaty introduction to the platform that is well worth watching.

For Further Reading:

Aidan Moher
By Aidan Moher
Web Designer
March 1st, 2012
Disclaimer: Our team members contribute to this blog in their own voices. As such, opinions expressed in this post are not necessarily shared by Upanup. If you are curious or concerned, please contact us.
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