HTML5 for real

It’s not easy to make sites compliant, especially large web sites. So why on earth would one consider making a site, let alone a web app, in HTML5? One point of view is to only try your hand at HTML5 on personal sites and blogs. Not that these are less serious but easier to maintain, alter, mix and match. Some say that the requirements to get HTML5 fully cross-browser prohibit its use for web applications because it involves to much risk and is less stable. Well, I beg to differ.

Now when I’m talking about HTML5 I’m not talking about slapping on a doctype and Bob’s your uncle. No, if you gonna do HTML5 you can’t just wimp out and play the big pretender. Building in HTML5 means getting to grips its tags, attributes and other little goodies.
The thing about HTML5 is that from the onset it was meant to be backwards compatible. Tomorrows web today.

Todays web will work and tomorrows web… maybe.
I can already hear the cries that you shouldn’t segregate the web like that. This begs the question; Why not?
Hasn’t the web always been like that? Isn’t that the web’s strength? It reminds me of the quote; “I have to change to stay the same” - Willem de Kooning. It’s the nature of innovation. Browsers will always change to meet the needs of the marketplace or to conquer more of it. Or both.

The first HTML5 try-outs didn’t fare so well. Firefox 2 seemed to choke on it and IE didn’t have clue what you’re on about. This backwards compatibility lark turns out to be bit of pain. (Ask any Microsoft developer) But the webheads wouldn’t be webheads if they didn’t dig deep to come up with a solution. JavaScript turned out to be the answer.
This is why I think that web apps can benefit from HTML5 because web apps on the whole require JavaScript to allow them to funciton in their full glory. Hey, even web accessibility is snuggling up to JavaScript with WAI-ARIA.

Modernizr is a small script that allows you in a single stroke to build HTML5 that will degrade gracefully. No segregation, no exclusion just optional benefits. Tomorrows web today here we come.
Modernizr feels more like added functionality than a hacky work-a-round because it tests against functionality and not browsers. Sounds obvious but I’m still shocked how often I catch some failface running browser sniffers on a web site. Corporal punishment hasn’t lost its charm in this regard.

So what’s the upside of getting HTML5 up and running? Well, it allows you write standards based webpages with less markup and with more structural meaning. The less markup you have the less you, or somebody else, can mess it up. Let’s face it, a large part of front-end work is weeding through some god awful tagsoup mess. Who doesn’t want an accessible, durable, maintainable and standards compliant web site? I know I do and HTML5 is another step in that direction.

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