When it comes to the world of computing, the landscape is a fast-moving one, to put it lightly. So relentlessly fast-moving, in fact, that the joke goes that when you buy your new top-of-the-line device, it is out of date by the time you open the box. While this trend rings true for a myriad of aspects of computing when it comes to web browsing, the pace has been slower; in fact, it took from 1999 to 2014 for HTML5 to become recommended and therefore actually a fully accepted part of our online lives.
An article on Wired Magazine from 2011 supported that not long after HTML5’s final release in the 2nd quarter of 2014 it would need to be replaced with HTML.next. The article explained that APIs would render HTML5 redundant, and also suggested that the use of internet browsing and apps through televisions and other devices would herald new standards and technologies to replace what the writer saw as a dying bit of tech.
We’re Still Here! Why Did It Not End?
Technology moves quickly and is big business, which is why states like Louisiana are embracing it. However, when it comes to making big predictions, it’s seriously hard, and can lead to those brave enough to make bold statements look a little foolish by being wide of the mark, perhaps by backing technology (like 3D tech on televisions) that fails to take off outside a select group of people. One other good example has turned out to be the premature “calling time” on HTML5, given that it is still the standard code used by developers today. So, why all the fuss just a few years ago? Well, perhaps the most straightforward answer to those bold statements was that the article failed to take into account how important Apple is in the context of the world of the internet and the world of browsing.
When you start to look at the role of HTML5 and what it does and why it is important, the truth is that it has helped to make websites work in a far smoother way by not relying on plug-ins. Indeed, if you can remember the pre-HTML5 days, you will remember an annoyance that would demand that you accept a plug-in to your browser every time you wanted to visit sites like YouTube. That annoyance was Flash. While the might of YouTube might have done enough to have kept Flash from being killed off before, let’s be honest: it was never fun to have to click “enable Flash plug-in” every time you loaded a video or wanted to go on the site. Perhaps most importantly, Apple decided to back the use of HTML5, which eventually persuaded YouTube to ditch Flash and move to the HTML5 world.
Of course, when you read the previous link, you may think that the paragraph mentioning iPhones and YouTube explains everything. However even back in 2015 when this change took place, the iPhone was not yet the beast that it is today. Fast forward to today, we are on the cusp of 2018, and the growth of mobile gaming and other niches associated with the mobile smartphone has exploded. Everything from travel-related apps, think your favorite airline, not to mention Uber and Lift, food ordering apps such as Dominos or Pizza Hut, well you get the idea. Today there is an app for everything and if a business wants to compete in this landscape and continue to expand then an iPhone compatible app is not a luxury it is a necessity.
Gaming and the Future of HTML5
While Apple’s policies have a crucial bearing on the longevity of HTML5, the other aspect to consider is how important a role the world of apps and gaming has had. It seems that HTML5 has taken over the world of smart technology and is being used to help create app-based games. Perhaps more importantly, HTML5 allows mobile gamers to enjoy instant games on their browsers trouble-free. If we stick with the world of app technology and instant games using HTML5, you can see that one market which has been hugely successful is online casino games. With games able to run smoothly, and using graphics that don’t spend too long loading, the games benefit from a fun, quick experience. This sector has grown hugely partly as a result of HTML5 improvements, with most casinos having released or now working on HTML5 platforms. Away from this niche, even big mass-appeal social games like Candy Crush are now on HTML5, despite starting their life as Flash-based games. Indeed, moving away from app sites altogether, dedicated gaming sites like that found on Miniclip.com or even Kongregate see issues when it comes to finding creative ways to allow their games to run on mobile devices, and also struggles when it comes to loading times in conventional browsers.
Since different brands’ web-based apps and games can end up out of date by not converting to HTML5, there are now lots of tools around to help gaming developers turn their once mighty flash game into an HTML5 version. Ensure it still works both on web browsers and mobile devices, such as Shoebox and Swoptex.
So… Where Next?
Having survived its predicted death HTML5 is not going to stay with us forever in the same format. Issues are present when it comes to the standardization of videos and web apps, and browser technology needs to evolve to help ensure that the world of web-based browsers stays relevant. What is clear is that the nature of how change happens in this area is not exactly optimum, with WHATWG and W3C clearly not adept at moving things on quickly. We have seen HTML5.1 recommended back in 2016, which was speedy compared to previous developments. Still, the fact is that these two organizations are unlikely to move quickly towards a revamped version or a new platform altogether that puts HTML5 in the shade unless there is a pressing need to do so.
In this regard, Adobe’s Flash has been beaten, the primary providers are all sticking with HTML5, and there seems little reason to start sounding the death knell anytime soon. With no significant threats visible on the horizon at the moment, HTML5 appears to be a safe bet. Of course, this can all change, and future innovators, like Netflix, was back in 2014, may not end up adopting HTML5. If this happens, the next time we start hearing about the demise of HTML5, it may turn out to be a new reality.