HTML5 idiots are confusing meatballs with spaghetti

This is a guest post by Richard Holdsworth, Wapple CEO.

Flash is on the endangered species list, already extinct on mobile, and Silverlight has been all but aborted. HTML5 is being heralded as both the cause and the solution but what is it and are we getting caught up in a game of buzzword bingo that has spiralled out of control?

“HTML5 is the new Web 2.0”

The only difference here is that it’s somehow more convincing. Version 5 sounds like we’re on a journey while simply putting a 2 on the end of something has significantly less gravitas.

So many people are saying that HTML5 is the future of the web. They tell us that it will create richer web experiences that will match and surpass client applications and Flash sites. Er, lets get one thing straight. There is nothing in the HTML5 specification for animations, moving or otherwise visually manipulating anything. Nothing. The best you can do is play a video. Woop.

So let me be clear here if you think you’ve been witnessing optical illusions when you’ve seen animating sites. That’s Javascript and CSS moving things around. Well written, nicely implemented and totally unrelated to HTML5. And totally possible on HTML4.

My point is that there is a growing group of idiots who have been caught up in the whole HTML5 hurricane and are confusing meatballs with meatballs, spaghetti and sauce. To extend the metaphor, it’s time for you to Ketchup.

But please don’t think I’m having a big downer on this whole field. I love what’s possible in browsers and I believe the future for services and applications delivered that way is immense. After all, what HTML5 does promise – offline storage, universal media embeds, proper SVG support and so on, is fantastic. We’ll find ourselves with highly capable software running on multiple screens wherever we may be.

I love the ideas that we collectively share for the future of online applications. I guess I’m just trying to clear muddy waters so we can agree on what things are called. The fact is we have plenty of time to get the semantics. The HTML5 specification is supposed to be complete in 2022, more than a decade away.

While we are seeing certain elements of support for HTML5 features appearing in desktop browsers, the support is inconsistent and not standard enough to rely upon any given feature of the HTML5 specification across all browsers. It’s like the early days with Netscape Navigator and IE causing all kinds of incompatibility problems. Conversely, the Javascript and CSS 3 support of browsers is good – so we’re not limited there.

Here’s a hint. Let’s call it an early Christmas present or just a suggestion for a New Year’s resolution. Don’t be that guy who sucks up the buzzwords and regurgitates them without understanding them.

Look up HTML5 for yourselves. Understand what it can do, when it will do it and what it will never do. Understand the relationship between Javascript, CSS and actual markup and realise what you can do today with existing technologies. Walk today, leave the running until tomorrow.