The next iteration of HTML has been met with excitement by some, loathing by others and confusion/fear by everyone else. Love it or hate it, HTML 5 will soon define how you build websites. This is the first article in a four part series that will introduce HTML5 and its basic features as well as explain the key differences from HTML4.01 and XHTML 1.0 so you can start preparing yourself and your sites for the transition. Over the next week we’ll be focusing on three major areas:
1. New Elements
2. Semantic Changes
3. Getting it Working Today
This article will briefly introduce each of these topics to prepare you for the in-depth articles ahead.
Before we dive into the topics listed above, I want to take a minute to look at an extremely important feature that we won’t be covering in its own dedicated article: the new APIs. HTML5 includes several new APIs that are integrated with some of the new HTML5 elements (which we’ll be looking at later). Here’s the complete list straight from W3.org:
As you can see, the principal purpose of these APIs is to facilitate web application creation. Notice the third API enables offline web apps. This is excellent news for users and programmers alike because it enables the use of rich, internet-driven applications in an offline environment. You can expect to see many of your favorite applications follow Gmail in introducing offline access.
New Elements in HTML5
HTML5 introduces quite a few new elements. Article two in this series will look at a few of these in detail, but for now here’s the complete list with brief descriptions (source: w3schools):
Though we won’t have time to go over each of these in detail, we’ll be examining a few of the important ones such as <canvas> and <video>.
This is the part that should fundamentally change the way you structure your sites. Included in the list above are six new structural elements that will help bring consistency to the basic frame of sites all across the web. These six elements are:
Think of these as the replacement for many of the DIVs that you currently use to structure your site. So instead of “<div class=”header”>,” you’ll simply have “<header>.” Notice I included “div class” instead of “div id.” This is because these elements are repeatable throughout a page in the same way that classes are. We’ll investigate this more later this week in article three.
Getting HTML5 Working Today
Don’t get too excited by this headline. As any good web developer knows, all the major web browsers still differ (some are worse than others, you know who I’m talking about) on support for HTML4.01 and XHTML 1.0. Now imagine what that means for a change as big and new as HTML5. Though mega-developers like Google are pushing along the acceptance of HTML5, it won’t be supported across the board for some time. However, that doesn’t meant that you shouldn’t begin preparing for the big switch today, and it certainly doesn’t mean there aren’t clever tricks out there to enable you to start playing with HTML5 right away. In article four, we’ll take a look at how you can start your HTML5 journey sooner rather than later.
This article briefly introduced the new elements and APIs included in HTML5. We talked about how you should be excited for the changes HTML5 will bring to the web apps of tomorrow. We also got a taste of the semantic changes to come and the new structure our web pages should take in the future. Finally, we learned that even though HTML5 isn’t quite ready for the masses, we can still get our grubby developer fingers on it and start experimenting today. Check back here frequently in the next week for an in-depth look into each of these topics!