HTML5 is a specification for how the web’s core language, HTML, should be formatted and utilized to deliver text, images, multimedia, web apps, search forms, and anything else you see in your browser. In some ways, it’s mostly a core set of standards that only web developers really need to know. In other ways, it’s a major revision to how the web is put together. Not every web site will use it, but those that do will have better support across modern desktop and mobile browsers (that is, everything except Internet Explorer).
What Awesomeness can I expect from HTML5?
The big, marquee changes in HTML5 have already made some headlines, thanks to browser makers like Google, Apple, Mozilla, and others picking them up and implementing them. The shortlist:
- Offline storage: Kind of like “Super Cookies,” but with much more space to store both one-time data and persistent app databases, like email. Actually, you can think of offline storage as something a lot like Google Gears—you just won’t need to install a plug-in to reap the benefits.
- Canvas drawing: Sites can mark off a space on a page where interactive pictures, charts and graphs, game components, and whatever else imagination allows can be drawn directly by programming code and user interaction—no Flash or other plug-ins required.
- Native video and audio streaming support: It’s in the very early stages and subject to format disruption, but sites like YouTube and Pandora could one day skip Flash entirely to bring you streaming audio and video, with timed playback and other neat features.
- Geolocation: Just what it sounds like, but not limited to a single provider’s API or browser tool. HTML5 can find your location and use it to tailor things like search results, tag your Twitter updates, and more. Location-aware devices are a big deal.
- Smarter forms: Search boxes, text inputs, and other you-type-here fields get better controls for focusing, validating data, interacting with other page elements, sending through email, and more. It may not sound that sexy, but it could mean less annoyance as a user, and that’s always a good thing.
- Web application focus: Without breaking down the hundreds of nuts and bolts, it’s fair to say that HTML5 is aimed at making it easier to build wikis, drag-and-drop tools, discussion boards, real-time chat, search front-ends, and other modern web elements into any site, and have them work the same across browsers.