HTML5, whats it all about ?

HTML5 is a web standard in progress developed and maintained by W3C and WHAT (Web Hypertext Application Technologies working group). HTML5 is a collection of different things, different features. You need to grasp this idea to understand HTML5. Let me explain why.

There are different browsers out there that you can use, each browser having it’s pros and cons. The biggest difference between browsers is what happens under the hood, how they parse HTML and render it, how strictly have they implemented the standard. Since HTML5 is a standard (although not complete), each browser implements the standard differently, therefore you can find browsers that support most of the standard and some support few features of it.

So, what does HTML5 have to offer ? Here are the main features that make up HTML5:

  • Canvas: a canvas is exactly what the name implies, it’s a drawing surface. JavaScript is used to access the canvas APIs to do the actual drawing.
  • Canvas Text: the canvas text APIs are used to draw text on the canvas. Your browser might support the canvas API but not the canvas text APIs
  • Video: the <video> element is used  to embed video in your web page. This was previously impossible without a third party plug in.
  • Local Storage: local storage is used to store data on the client, this data can be used by your site. The concept is similar to cookies but the storage space is much larger.
  • Web Workers: this is one of the most exciting features, it allows your browser to run JavaScript in the background, and run multiple threads at the same time.
  • Offline Web Applications: HTML5 provides a way for your application to work offline. This is done by caching any resources your application need on the client.
  • Geolocation: the geolocation API allows you to retrieve the client’s location. You have to obtain the clients permission first.
These are some of the main features of HTML5. I recommend reading HTML5 Up and Running by Mark Pilgrim for more details on HTML5. The book is great and very much simplified.