5 Reasons You Should Care About HTML5
Before you dismiss HTML5 as not ready for prime time or too lightweight for real developers, consider these five reasons that you should get excited about it.
In May, Microsoft revealed the first official demo of "Windows 8" with a preview of a new tile-based UI and an app model based on HTML5. No one should have been caught off guard by this news. The rumors about Microsoft's interest in HTML5 have been swirling for months, and it's no coincidence the first-day keynote at MIX11 touted Internet Explorer 9 as the most "native" browser. The prominence of HTML5 in the Windows 8 app model, however, seemed to inflate the choler of Silverlight developers.
To be clear, we don't know much at this point, and Microsoft says more of the story will come out at the Microsoft BUILD conference this September [BUILD replaces the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference -- Ed.]. There will almost certainly be a place for Silverlight (or some other flavor of XAML backed by C#) at the Windows 8 table, but there's no doubt that HTML5 is a big -- possibly the biggest -- new player.
4. A Windows application marketplace has the potential to be enormous. Apple just announced that it has sold 14 billion apps and paid $2.5 billion to developers for creating them. Those apps run on 200 million iOS devices (including iPads). If you think mobile is big, desktop is gigantic. By comparison, Microsoft sold a whopping 350 million copies of Windows 7 in its first 18 months alone, nearly twice as many in a much more compressed amount of time. Those are convincing numbers and they provide what's perhaps the most compelling reason to care about HTML5: a big paycheck. We don't, of course, know the whole story yet, but we can guess that Windows 8 will come with an app store and, from the looks of things, those apps could be written in HTML5.
5. We're at the beginning of something big. It's easy to say that HTML5 isn't ready yet. It's certainly new, it's changing every day and estimates put the final spec out at least a few years (check out ishtml5readyyet.com and be sure to view source). But don't fail to see the forest for the trees. HTML5 is ready for many scenarios today and many more tomorrow, but that's not even the start of it. The coming months and years will bring a set of frameworks, tools and enhancements that put HTML5 on par in features and productivity with the most robust UI platform. HTML5 is not a thunderstorm -- it's a tidal wave. Smart developers won't take cover, they'll start swimming.
Robby Ingebretsen is a designer and developer with a singular purpose: making great ideas real. As the founder and principal of Pixel Lab, he's a well-known advocate for pushing the boundaries of interactive technologies through the marriage of design and engineering. Before Pixel Lab, he worked at Microsoft, where he helped to create cutting-edge UI technologies like Silverlight and Windows Presentation Foundation. Presently he's a Silverlight MVP and established blogger and speaker. He actively maintains the site nerdplusart.com.