What Makes HTML5 Different from Its Predecessors?

HTML or Hyper Text Markup Language, is a programming language. It is used in tandem with CSS (Cascade Style Sheets) and JavaScript to make websites.

The simplest explanation to describe HTML would be that it is the way content is structured on a web page. Still not following? Consider this page that you are currently viewing, now remove every element except for text and images. The way the text sits structurally is because of HTML. CSS, on the other hand, provides visual presentation to stylize the web page. JavaScript acts as a programming language used to include interactivity on the web page.

It should be noted that HTML is not a programming language. If we go back to what the acronym stands for, you will see it is a “markup” language. It is not logical in its working, it gives you a dumb web page, which you then have to power with functionality using languages such as JavaScript.

HTML5 was introduced in 2014 by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group. Before that, HTML4 had been the leading markup language for web development. But times changed, and technology has changed drastically since the introduction of HTML4 back in 1999. If you think about it, 14 years is ancient times keeping in mind the technological boom over the past few years.

Chips are getting smaller, you can store TBs worth of data in a single SD card, and smartphones can do so much more than a computer from the 90s. Multimedia is taking over the web, photos, videos, and even games. Hence, it was time to introduce a modern version of HTML that would utilize the technologies available right now and be forward-looking for future technologies.

HTML5’s popularity can be realized by the fact that a single Google search for HTML5 development results in millions of tutorials. No web development boot camp is complete without a course on HTML5.

There are many notable changes and improvements HTML5 has that its predecessors didn’t. Some of them we shall discuss here.

Local Storage

You will recall webpages asking you to enable cookies, but what exactly are they? Named after the baked delicacy, cookies are like registers for your web browser. Whenever you visit a website, it results in a two-way transfer of information. You gain access to the website’s content and the website gains access to information such as your browser, your device id and your ip address etc. through which it tracks your activity. All this information is saved in cookies.

Take the example of an online shopping store. If you visit your shopping cart after shutting down the webpage, you will notice your selected items are still in the cart. This is due to the cookies holding that information. That information will be wiped clean once you clear cookies from your browser.

HTML5 allows websites to hold that information locally. It allows developers to store information far higher than the storage limit of cookies.

Audio and Video Integration

We discussed how multimedia is taking over the web. Much of the information on the web is now videos based. HTML did not support video and audio natively. And as users around the world were getting access to faster internet connections, videos were emerging on the web and taking over. This led to developers using Flash technology.

While it did work for years, it presented some challenges, mainly security and compatibility with HTML and CSS. Security was enough of a reason for Steve Jobs’ dismay over Flash. He even wrote an open letter citing the vulnerabilities of the technology and why it would not be support by Apple devices such as the iPhone, iPad, iPod.

Then came HTML5 with native support for videos and images and the developers couldn’t have been happier. The inclusion of it rendered Flash useless. If the web browser supports HTML5, users do not have to download any additional plugins for web-based videos to work.

There are still some die-hard Flash advocates but HTML5 is an elegant way for developers by providing all capabilities in one API.

Games Support

Another feature of HTML5 that its predecessors did not have is that it can support games via the web browser itself. This means that you do not need any setup to be installed on your computer, it simply runs off your web browser.

We’re not even talking about visually handicapped 2D platforms; some very impressive games have been developed by leveraging the power of HTML5. There are loads of games available, you can check out some of them to get an idea.

One of the prominent features of the HTML5 experience is its capability to run on any device that supports HTML5. The cross-platform nature of HTML5 is what allows one piece of code to run on another machine, with another OS, without any plugins.

Revamped Mobile Support

Smartphones have been the driving force behind technologies adjusting themselves to cater to the growing userbase. From working on laptops to doing literally everything on a smartphone, users expect fluid and mobile-friendly versions of websites. HTML5 draws less processing power as well so it makes it ideal for mobile devices.

It is Simpler

HTML allows for simpler codes. It does away with redundancy. HTML was already easy to understand to begin with, but HTML5 simplifies if further. It has introduced more functions as well to keep pace with the demands of web development.

For example, it introduces <article> tag for websites which want reusable pieces of information to be picked up by search engines.

Since being introduced in 2014, HTML5 has already overtaken Flash as the number one Flash alternative for web development. There are still a number of devices that support Flash, but the ever rising popularity among developers means that most major web browsers such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, and Microsoft Edge, now prefer HTML5 over Flash. Microsoft most notably has been an advocate of the HTML5 standard.

Budding developers are finding it crucial to keep up with the technology. Fortunately for such developers, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of tutorials available on the web that will teach you to harness the capabilities of HTML5. If you are looking for some top-of-the-line html5 training, do take a look at QuickStart’s web developer boot camp.

About The Author
Enterprise Account Executive

Tim Dieterich

Tim is an IT Education Consultant who works with SMBs, enterprise, and government organizations. He helps them achieve IT business objectives through comprehensive multi-mode learning. He assists clients and organizations by making recommendations and providing education for Information Technology, Project Management, Process Improvement, Soft Skills, and more.