HTML5 Directions

HTML5 has replaced many technologies. Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight are good examples of technologies that simply could not compete with the capabilities, portability, and cost benefits of HTML5. It is now replacing more entrenched application development platforms like Java and C# for desktop applications. Tools like Electron used for Visual Studio Code are even replacing development development IDEs.

There are problems with HTML5. It still lacks a standard royalty-free video codec. The proposed H.265 codec has patent issues, and many vendors are not comfortable building technology on top of Google’s VP9 codec. Given Google’s history of dropping and/or radically changing their technologies, this is understandable.

Nonetheless, HTML5 has established itself as the way to build applications for an open, multimedia-rich web. “HTML5 has very quickly become the only version of HTML that people are really using in browsers today and websites,” said Jeff Jaffe, CEO of the World Wide Web Consortium, which has jurisdiction over the technology.

HTML5’s incremental improvements

The HTML5 specification is regularly updated. Sometimes, there are small feature improvements and bug fixes, such as with last year’s version 5.1, which modified the canvas 2D element and further cleaned up HTML5.

Next up is version 5.2, with features such as, tentatively, the menu element, representing a group of commands that can be activated. Release 5.2 also hones in on Web Content Security Policy, providing a way for developers to control resource access. The upgrade also could handle email addresses in non-Latin alphabets. Still, HTML5.2 is considered a minor revision.

But the W3C wants more frequent updates of the core HTML specification, updating it every year instead of every ten to 15 years as in previous HTML major-version shifts, which does not keep up with web time, Jaffe said. However, those major revisions won’t necessarily get whole-number upgrades, such as from HTML5 to HTML6 to HTML7.

What might make for an HTML5 successor?

People ask about HTML6 but there is no definitive answer. Possibly the full implementation of web components or web payments may warrant a whole-number revision. Until now HTML5 has simply been going through iterative changes as companies agreement and commit to web standards. Regardless of what anyone calls it, HTML5 is continuing to evolve and will soon be much easier and cost effective for not just web apps, but also mobile banking and RAD (rapid interface design) application development for embedded devices.

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