HTML5 Will Be Taking Over the Web ... Very Soon (Eventually? Never?)

HTML5 on a chalkboard

HTML has grown quite a bit since my web designing days, in which I felt pretty proud of my embedded Switchfoot videos and ability to use italics. Right now, for instance, we're right in the middle of implementing the next great HTML version — just like we have been for the last 10 years.


A belated welcome to you, HTML5. You can help yourself to the fridge.


In 2004, HTML 4.01 had worn out its welcome, and W3C began work on its replacement. The first working draft was published four years later, but it was only in 2010 that HTML5 finally started to get some attention. The catalyst for its new popularity was a skirmish between Apple and Adobe. Adobe wanted Apple to put flash on its mobile devices, and Apple didn't wanna. Steve Jobs wrote a criticism of Flash in which he implied that Flash's time was running out and that HTML5 (among other technologies) would replace it.


Although Jobs' op ed initially stirred up controversy, it was just a year later that Adobe jumped on board and discontinued development of Flash for mobile devices, deciding to concentrate on HTML5 tools instead. Finally, in October of 2014, W3C released HTML5 as a stable recommendation.


In other words: Learn it, love it, live it. You have W3C's blessing.


The new HTML brings a lot of new capability and power to the table. The big one is embedded video without any proprietary plugins or codecs. You can do some pretty neat stuff with that kind of capability (don't bother clicking the link if you can't stand Arcade Fire). The new format also simplifies many of the older features of HTML; beyond redefinitions and additions to its tags for headers, menus and navigation, HTML5 also greatly simplifies the "doctype" tag.


HTML5 is also designed with other languages in mind, which makes it easier to integrate common web development and server management languages, such as JavaScript and PHP. One thing the new HTML is missing is "style" tags; all style from here on out comes from CSS. For anybody interested in validation, HTML5 supports that, too.


While HTML5 in undoubtedly useful, however, not everyone has been so quick to jump on the bandwagon. Some developers will continue to use XHTML to the bitter end. Some argue that it's simply not the best tool for the job, a complaint that has been especially prevalent among game developers. Mark Zuckerberg himself had an experience with HTML5 while developing a web app for mobile devices that left him unimpressed.


Facebook decided to go native instead, and while Zuckerberg bears HTML no hard feelings, issues like his plague a lot of mobile app developers. A web app is easier to maintain, to patch, to troubleshoot, and easier to deploy, but tends to lack quality. Developing native apps is more precise, but also more expensive, more difficult and harder to fix when bugs are discovered.


We all know developing for mobile, however, is going to be a thorn in the side for a while yet. In the meantime, getting up-to-date with the latest HTML isn't a bad thing. If you're interested in certs, there are two, mainly, that should catch your eye.


Guy doing web dev and waiting for his muse

First, there's always the cert from the horse's mouth itself. W3C offers an HTML5 certification for $95 dollars if you can pass a 70-question, 70-minute exam that's administered over the internet. While probably not the most formal cert in the book, it's cheap (as certification goes) and will help you know what you need to learn about HTML5. Getting a score of at least 75 percent will pass you, and a score of 95 percent or higher will earn you an Excellency Degree notation added to the certificate.


Second, Microsoft has worked hard to keep up with development trends and has not slacked off with HTML5. Both the Microsoft Certified Professional and the Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer can use exam 70-480, "Programming in HTML5 with JavaScript and CSS3." Depending on your chosen track, the MCSD will require 2 or 3 other exams as well, while the MCP is a bit of a bigger beast. For now, know that the exam mentioned above costs $150 — so if you're shooting for the MCSD expect to lay down at least $450.


Would you like more insight into the history of hacking? Check out Calvin's other articles about historical hackery:
About the Author
David Telford

David Telford is a short-attention-span renaissance man and university student. His current project is the card game MatchTags, which you can find on Facebook and Kickstarter.