HTML and CSS are the basic building blocks of any website, the HTML (HyperText Markup Language) is the code and content of a site and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is used for setting the layout and making it look nice. Over the years these languages have evolved and changed with new versions of web browsers and new demands by web developers and designers.
The next version of HTML is currently being finalised and gradually implemented into new web browsers and it’s causing a bit of a fuss among web developers. So, what is HTML5 and will it affect average web users?
Most web users don’t know how a website is put together – and that’s probably a good thing, it shows that the internet has moved on from it’s hand-made, amateur days to a point where sites are becoming integral parts of everyday life and run seamlessly on multiple platforms and browsers. One of the resons for this is the separation of content and design – the HTML and CSS – that allows developers to use the same content but show it in different ways on different platforms eg. mobile phones, televisions, laptops.
From W3 Schools:
HTML 5 improves interoperability and reduces development costs by making precise rules on how to handle all HTML elements, and how to recover from errors.
Some of the new features in HTML 5 are functions for embedding audio, video, graphics, client-side data storage, and interactive documents. HTML 5 also contains new elements like <nav>, <header>, <footer>, and <figure>.
The HTML 5 working group includes AOL, Apple, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Mozilla, Nokia, Opera, and many hundreds of other vendors.
Once HTML5 becomes more widespread and can be used as a foundation for all websites we will start to see web development move into an even more professional realm. Currently it’s still possible to design and code a fairly good looking website from home using basic tools. Obviously an amateur wouldn’t be able to produce a Faceboook or Twitter but a simple 4 or 5 page site is still possible. With HTML5 that is still the case but there’s more to learn and understand and much more is possible.
As more sites begin to use HTML5 in their code we’ll hopefully begin to see a reduction in the number of users browsing on old, outdated web browsers. Using an old web browser such as Internet Explorer 6 can really affect how you view the internet, most websites don’t support this 10 yr old browser any more and you’ll find that you’re often seeing reduced versions of websites – cutting down your usability and options. The other problem with older browsers is safety and security. It’s much easier for a hacker to break into your computer via the internet if you’re browsing with IE6 rather IE8, Firefox or Opera.
HTML5 can already be used and their are lots of websites starting to make use of the new standard. Often it’s combined with a new CSS standard CSS3 – which allows web designers much more freedom and expression in internet design. We’ve recently set up a website that showcases HTML5 sites: 101 Best HTML5 Sites – we’ve written the site in HTML5 and used some CSS3 to help us learn and understand the new language and start to show what’s possible.
Some other resources:
HTML5 -A vocabulary and associated APIs for HTML and XHTML
HTML5 from Wikipedia
HTML5 reference from W3 Schools