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10 reasons why HTML5 implementation should happen now

Learn the top 10 reasons why HTML5 implementation should be your next Web development project.

HTML has been the one mighty leader when it comes to markups for the Web. There’s no real rival and as such, it's actually more of a standard than a product. This dominance has had a few negative impacts on the evolution of websites and the Web as a whole. Consider the fact there was little or no innovation in terms of website experience and functioning for almost two decades. XHTML 1.1 has outlived itself, so far exceeding the term that it should have been served to browsers worldwide. It is perhaps because of this reason that a huge number of organizations and even individuals are sticking to the much (rightly) maligned Internet Explorer. When there is nothing radically new to consume, why should anyone upgrade their hardware for the sake of a modern browser? As the years passed and the user experience remained all the same, it became dull and then boring.

That seems to be changing though, with HTML5 scheduled for official recommendation in 2015, it is high time that everyone embraced it with open arms. However, that has not been the case. HTML5 has not got off to a flying start, despite almost 10 years of thought and development behind it. It can power websites that are radically gorgeous and interactive. Despite that, it is implemented on no more than 150 websites of Fortune 500 companies in 2014, whether you consider that figure as a success or failure is up to you. The next fact is more telling, consider this: As of 2013, only 8 percent of all websites implement HTML5 in some form or the other. That is no impressive figure, not for a technology that is the de-facto standard of the Web. Several things and events have worked against it, but it seems, all is not lost. Especially when one considers the power that HTML5 comes equipped with. Despite all those new features, developers seem reluctant to implement it on their new projects, citing cross platform compatibility, immaturity of the language, earth's distance from the moon and what not reasons, to not have adopted it yet.

Perhaps the real reason is their reluctance to change from the old and trusted XHTML 1.1, despite all its flaws. HTML5 has a lot of things going for it at this time, and it is perhaps the best time to hop on the HTML5 bandwagon, because to state it plainly, there will never be a Web where the same website looks and feels exactly the same (a major reason cited to delay its adoption is to wait for such a milestone). Whether you accept it or not, as a developer it is your job to put the best website up there in terms of look, feel and experience, and HTML5 can improve all that. The user on the other hand, actually doesn’t care whether you use this version of markup or that, he doesn't look (often) as to what CSS you have included or what does JavaScript do on the page. But he can certainly be impressed if you can take his experience to the next dimension, when webpages are not mere content delivery options, but a means of interaction. Dynamism is the keyword that has been much advertised and less achieved. It is time indeed that a user visits a page across three devices and exclaims the same word every time: wow!

Here are some of the reasons that can help you make HTML5 the clear choice for your next Web project. And although these are the most illustrious examples, the list is actually endless, making HTML5 the next revolution that the Web wanted so badly:

Search engine optimization

Search engine optimization has been a pain for most Web content creators. It has been an eternal question, whether to focus on writing a great article, or to write a greatly optimized SEO article. News and blogs are the most badly infected spheres of the Web and with the SEO pathogen it either eats traffic or great content. The balance is seldom found, and once found, it can be highly unstable. HTML5 seems to be solving the paradox, though it doesn't completely, in areas it is a solvent.

There was the time when you had to write countless <div> elements and then assign an ID or class attribute with values such as header, footer, navigation links and everything else that went into a webpage, which were mostly blogs. This use of <div> created a hell to be sorted out. HTML5 tackles that problem with common sense. The tags <header><footer> and <nav> have found their way into the standard to make way for simpler markup. It also makes it easier for webpages to know where actually the paragraph/<p>/<span>/<div> are because header is just header now, it's not a crisscrossing, zig-zag of <div>s anymore. So bloggers can easily write their desired fabulous article without bothering about SEO and still get rankings as good as their content actually is.

Local storage and cache

Up until the advent of HTML5, developers were allowed a very limited amount of data that could actually be stored on the client's device. Cookies and sessions were all that you had. Now imagine the ability to store a complete user profile on the client's device itself -- it is not a good example, but it illustrates the amount of data that developers can store locally very well. Apps can now store their complete instances, which can be retrieved very fast. The new APIs have been allotted a standard 5 MB of data. Strings can easily be stored, and there's even an easy way to store JavaScript and use it when need be.

So HTML5 gives an easy way to increase the amount of data stored on the client's machine, so that it can be easily retrieved and used. It's more like a local database now. Furthermore, data is not lost once the session is closed. Use it for prolonged periods and manage them easily with methods like getItem and setItem, among others. If this doesn't make it tempting to start with HTML5, then nothing ever will, not even chocolates popping out off the screen.

Game on!

Remember those flash games that you could play on the browser? There are a ton of games on the Chrome Web Store itself. They have all been mostly developed exclusively with Flash, a technology that excited and depressed at the same time, and as a result, it's time to say your farewell to Flash, because HTML5 brings with it the muscle to develop and run amazing interactive games that are lightweight yet powerful and certainly less inflicted by bugs.

Atari now has a specific library of exclusive HTML5 games, Disney is bringing its most famous characters in games through HTML5 and Rovio is getting Angry Birds to fly to you on HTML5 wings. If these cannot impress, go ahead and check out some of the tutorials to develop games in HTML5, because it's simple, easy and powerful, all at the same time.

Cross-browser support

This is one HTML feature that has been battered over and over again throughout the years. Every browser interprets the same page differently to its own liking, and there's not much you can do to prevent that old IE6 from ruining your page to shreds. That is set to change so that now you can with HTML5.

It's supported across all major browsers like Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera and IE (yeah). Even if it's not completely supported (enter IE6 and IE7) you can always have a fallback option for those browsers, and with the imminent death of Windows XP, much of that annoyance is going away anyway. Just in time for you to get started with HTML5.

Improved semantics and cleaner code

One of the things that HTML5 does very well is clean your code, while making it easier to read and understand for your browser, you and the user. The tag <header> is there for headers, <footer> is there for footers, and <nav> is there to take care of those links without all the fuss with <a>. It’s clean, simple and sensible. Perhaps that's what semantics is.

Inbuilt multimedia support

Was flash doomed because of Steve Jobs? No. It was doomed by HTML5, ask Adobe and they will tell you so. The tags <video> and <audio> are here to save the day, without headaches. Clean, easy and equipped with some powerful attributes, you no longer have to worry about <object> anymore. So go ahead and implement the native support for multimedia with HTML5 and give your users a richer experience.

Interactive like never before

Webpages were at a standstill. Basically, users opened a website, looked at it for a while, scrolled down, stared at it some more and then went away. With HTML5, users log on to the website, enjoy the interactions, scroll down and then enjoy it even more. They love it and come back, again and again. Forms are also given a new life because now they know what they want.

Better data entry and form fields

Forms have been around for a long time, but much like the Web, they have not evolved at a desirable pace. HTML5 seems to have improved there as well, and <input> attributes now make it very simple to invoke the correct keyboard on touch devices, as well as allow for the proper cosmetic and functional changes that need to be implemented. Watermarks, validation and lots of other functionality don't depend on JavaScript anymore. These improved abilities make it easier to receive input from the user, and a more accurate one too. Attributes such as placeholder, autocorrect, autocomplete and type values like email and telephone make forms a lot easier, functional and simpler as well.

A great, simple doctype

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd">

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/strict.dtd">

<!DOCTYPE html>

The first one is the doctype declaration for XHTML 1.0 and the second one is for HTML 4.01, the immediate predecessor to HTML5. The last one belongs to HTML5.I It is understood by almost every Web browser, no need to remember those long, cumbersome, filthy doctype declarations of the HTMLs of yesteryears, HTML5 changes so many things for good, and the new doctype declaration is one of them, which is one more reason for every developer to skip beyond the past and move towards the new and evolved Web.

It is the future

When giving all the reasons to a developer for why they should join the HTML5 bandwagon, the most trivial and important thing would be to understand that HTML5 is not going to fade away, it is here for the years to come, to change how we develop for the Web. A markup that is equally functional for every device of every dimension, and it is the future of the Web.. The Internet of Things might have its foundations in technologies of the past, but its dominance is on the sound base that is HTML5. So many things pull in the direction of HTML5 and resisting it now would be missing the opportunity to create great websites that are capable of mesmerizing the visitors. It's now or never.

This was last published in January 2015

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