HTML5 – quick notes from The Chronicles of Web Standard III – The Voyage of the HTML5

I went to the The Chronicles of Web Standard III – The Voyage of the HTML5 presentation by Silicon Valley Web Builder last night. Here are some quick notes I took before my battery died.
Please note: I am far from an expert on HTML5 and welcome any comments and/or corrections to the following notes.

The speakers were

  • Ben Galbraith, Co-founder at
  • Brad Neuberg, Developer at Google
  • Chet Haase, Adobe Flex SDK team member
  • Michael Carter, Founder at Orbited Project & Official Contributor for W3C HTML5

First off, HTML5 was defined as not just an HTML4+ spec. It also includes all of the advances since HTML4.0. These include:

  • CSS3
  • webGL
  • geolocation
  • web workers
  • web storage
  • web sockets
  • canvas, SVG

Canvas vs. SVG

You can roughly think of these as Adobe Flash replacements.

Both canvas and SVG can be used to build dynamic images, charts, animation, and more. Canvas has more adoption at this point and is faster. However, the canvas is built and then keeps no memory of the objects it contains. SVG is more structured and knows what it contains. These sub objects can be further manipulated. SVG has the potential of being much more powerful than canvas in the long run. Microsoft‘s IE9 has demonstrated great potential with SVG.

CSS3 Advancements

There’s been an extended argument about where CSS or JS should be used on a web site. Some developers argue CSS shouldn’t be used for interactivity, such as drop down menus. However, the CSS transformations available in CSS3 are going to throw a major monkey wrench into this argument. They are blurring the boundaries and can do a much better job than javaScript.

Apple and Safari have pushed the development of transformations as they introduced the animation of pages when you switch an iPhone from portrait to landscape mode. This is just the tip of the iceberg. An example last night showed a CSS only version of itunes’ coverflow animation. Check out the CSS3 3D transformations.

Web Workers

Web workers technology should solve an existing problem with javaScript functions that run for extended periods. One example was a JS transformation of an image. It rotated the image and added reflections. However, the image would stop rotating when a user clicked on a button to add/change the functionality. Web Workers allows these functions to operate consistently.

There was another example with a movie of a guy holding a piece of cardboard and rotating it randomly. The user could click on various movies and watch them appear on the cardboard in the movie.

You can participate

One thing mentioned often in the meeting was the open structure for developing the specifications. Anyone can participate by joining the mailing lists, irc (irc.freenode whatwg), and making requests, suggestions, and comments.

They are especially interested in knowing what problems you have that are not solved by the existing specs. What changes would particularly affect you and how would you solve the problem.

For instance, I asked if the phone manufacturers are looking at the HTML5 web forms and using the new input types to intelligently autofill forms. For instance, they know an input is asking for a phone number, should a phone insert your number automatically? What about your other contact information?

Currently, this interaction is not in the spec. This is the kind of comment/suggestion they need to make the final specifications.

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HTML5 Resource: HTML5 Doctor

I used to think HTML5 was just a pipe dream; something that was a nice idea but had no legs. However, the recent advancement of smart phones makes this the perfect approach for building web-based phone apps. Hence, my interest now in joining the HTML5 game.

There’s a great resource for those like me starting to dip their toes into the HTML5 pool: HTML5 Doctor. This web site is a collaboration between some of the biggest and brightest stars of web development: Rich Clark, Bruce Lawson, Jack Osborne, Mike Robinson, Remy Sharp, Tom Leadbetter, and Oli Studholme.

The article How to use HTML5 in your client work right now has some interesting suggestions on adding HTML5 functionality to your existing projects. This works hand in hand with using advanced CSS3 rules. Don’t break IE6, but start letting the advanced browsers and platforms give your users more functionality.

Here’s a summary of HTML5 bits that you can begin using today.

  • Use the HTML5 doctype and character set.
  • Use the simplified <script> and <style> elements.
  • Use semantic class names that are representative of the new HTML5 elements. See @boblet’s cheat sheet for more on this.
  • Use block level links.
  • Use the new form attributes and input types.
  • Use the new <audio> and <video> media elements (but make sure they degrade gracefully).
  • Plug the gaps with something like Modernizr.

How to use HTML5 in your client work right now – Richard Clark

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