Monthly Archives: March 2012

HTML5 is a Specification

I read some articles, which I won’t cite for lack of wanting to start a small war, that refer to HTML5 as a collection of technologies that describe how the new web works, in much the same way that the term Web 2.0 was used for years to describe a collection of technologies including AJAX to provide higher interactivity to web pages. In these specific articles, HTML5 was referred to as including HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. This is horribly confusing to a non-technical user and leads to some seriously awkward conversations about HTML5.

When a technical person hears “HTML5” they think, “Oh, the W3C Spec for HTML5.” However, in reality the non-technical person has been misled into thinking that HTML5 includes other technologies like CSS and JavaScript and therefore “HTML5” can do all these neat things.

HTML5 is the specification put forth by the W3C for HyperText Markup Language. The version of the specification is number 5. That’s what HTML5 is, nothing more. HTML5 is most definitely not CSS or JavaScript and does not include those technologies. CSS is defined by its own specification and so is JavaScript and neither of them like to be called HTML.

HTML5 is not video and does not make video better. HTML5 has a video element, yes, but browsers still need to support that element and the programmer/site operator still needs to encode the video in multiple formats. Will this change? Probably. I’m looking forward to the day when I can upload my video file in whatever format and have it play across all browsers, like magic. But that day is not today. Today we encode in multiple formats, sometimes use the video tag and sometimes use the object tag. We’ll get there but it’s not now.

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HTML5 is not more secure than HTML4, stating such is nonsense, it’s a markup language. Are browsers better, arguably more secure? Yes. But those same browsers are better at rendering HTML4 too and their security applies equally to all versions of HTML5. It’s actually plausible to say that HTML5 and a browser’s implementation thereof makes users less secure due to as yet undiscovered exploits in the way those browsers interpret the new specification. Think: Web Storage.

Please, I beg of you, stop referring to HTML5 as a set of technologies including CSS and JavaScript. If you’d like to make up some buzzword or buzzphrase then do so but HTML5 is taken. The term Web 3.0 seems too cliche but at least it wouldn’t muddy conversations between technical and non-technical people.