AJ's blog

March 7, 2011

HTML5 – Part I: The Hype

Filed under: HTML5, Silverlight, Software Architecture — ajdotnet @ 5:17 pm

META: This blog got a little sleepy recently. But actually I’ve been spending quite some time writing blog posts, albeit for our company blog. And I’m planning to reuse some of that content here (this post is actually the first one). Also I’ve been busy in several new areas, including WP7, and I may have something to say about those, too. So, this blog is still alive and kicking.

There’s a small hype around HTML5 for some time now. Ironically the reason were more political than for technical ones, since browsers begin to support HTML5 only just now. Be it organizational hassles, discussions about a video format, or a certain company having issues with Flash on their iPlatform. And since Microsoft has announced its decision to make HTML5 their cross platform strategy, the last big browser vendor has joined the camp.

And this is a good thing! Not only homogenizes HTML5 the web platform again, it is also the only feasible platform for cross platform development in the mobile world, which is much more diverse than our desktop eco system.

On the other hand I am regularly irritated about what people think HTML5 will be able to accomplish. Especially in the relation to RIA applications that are all but dead, according to various sources:

“HTML5, a groundbreaking upgrade to the prominent Web presentation specification, could become a game-changer in Web application development, one that might even make obsolete such plug-in-based rich Internet application (RIA) technologies as Adobe Flash, Microsoft Silverlight, and Sun JavaFX.” (link)

“Will HTML 5 one day make Flash, Silverlight and other plug-in technologies obsolete? Most likely, but unfortunately that day is still quite a way off.” (link)

“Sure maybe today, we have to rely on these proprietary browser plugins to deliver content to users, but the real innovative developers and companies are going to standard on HTML 5 and in turn revolutionize how users interact with data.  We all want faster web applications and the only way to deliver this is to use HTML 5.” (link)

To put it bluntly: HTML is no RIA technology and HTML5 is not going to change that. Thus Silverlight is a valid choice for any RIA application today, and it will be one tomorrow.

On the other hand, HTML5 is certainly going to deliver features that today are the domain of RIA technologies, namely Flash. And this will affect RIA technologies in some way.

Then how will HTML5 affect RIA? Well, I’m afraid, it’s not that simple and there is no short and sufficient answer that I’m aware of. In order to decide – probably on a case by case basis – what HTML5 can do, in which use cases HTML5 is the right answer, and in which cases RIA technologies still are the better choices, we need to take a closer look at some details…

To keep it a little more concise, I’m going to break with my usual habit of very long posts. I’m splitting the remainder into two additional not-quite-so-long posts:

Stay tuned,
AJ.NET

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