HTML5? The Web’s Dead, Baby

Branden Hall, CEO Automata Studios Ltd
Emily Lewis, Principal Web Designer Emily Lewis Design
Erik Klimczak, Creative Dir Clarity Consulting
Rick Barraza, Creative Director Cynergy Systems, MS Silverlight
Thomas Lewis, Principal Technical Evangelist Microsoft

Is the web dead? Should people be building apps? Should we be using HTML5? Wired Magazine printed an article, "The Web is Dead,"

Is the web dead or was the story sensationalized?

Rick: It depends on what part of the internet you’re interacting with or what device you’re using and figuring out what is the best technology to do that interaction.

Brandon: You can start with the web as a base layer and determine what to put on top of it. HTML5 provides more interactive experiences (canvas, SVG, etc.). Those will take you a little ways, but not all the way. If fundamentally building an app, maybe web technology isn’t the best place for that.

Erik: Thinking about apps, and what they do, they deliver very specific currated pieces very quickly. You have a toaster in your house to make toast, and a coffee maker to make coffee, but you don’t have a coffee making toaster. Apps have their place and don’t need to be do-all things.

How do you describe HTML5 to customers?

Emily: From the front end, there are more elements to work with the achieve visual and usability pieces. It’s not about calling it HTML5, but it’s about finding out what clients need to achieve their business goals. It’s just a label and doesn’t really matter.

Branden: It’s really just more tags to do more with content.

Rick: CSS to CSS3 was evolutionary. With canvas and SVG, it’s disruptive. It breaks the paradigm of what hypertext markup language is in your head. The best HTML5 experience can now rival the pretty typical plugin experience.

What are scenarios where using HTML5 make sense?

Erik: Jitterbug game in HTML5 that rivals flash is a pretty great thing. Tweetdeck is built in HTML5… better than the version in Adobe Air.

Branden: It didn’t feel right when you had to use flash in the past. It’s great that you can now do this in the web, and it feels right. Canvas has many of the same problems that flash does/did. It’s just a block in the browsers where you put stuff. Things don’t feel native and it leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

What about the things you don’t have in an app (right-click, copy/paste etc.)? What about the web makes it the web?

Emily: The world of the web exists in information browsing, not in apps. The power of HTML5 is twofold. It lets you create more application-like experiences without the use of plugins. By using more symantic markup, we’re creating the foundation for more search and assistive technologies that can ultimately make the information more useful for us.

What specifically in HTML5 helps to solve these problems?

Branden: A lot of the web is built on hacks, like jquery. Stuff like that shouldn’t exist – it’s tools on top of tools on top of tools. You have a new set of tools in HTML5 to do things without it being a hack. Example: divs – it’s not markup – a box in a box in a box doesn’t really help segment the content. HTML5 codifies and makes a lot of old hacks simple without throwing hacks at it.

Rick: The web is like a big flea market. The plugins are the high end of it. HTML5 brings it more to a walmart and brings up the level of quality. Asking if the web is like telling us that we will only shop at one store for the rest of our lives. It depends on what we want to buy. Some things you want an app – in and out very quickly, and sometimes you want an elegant experience.

Branden: The tools are still very rough… it’s new. Some things haven’t been made clear. Javascript is still javascript. We’re still stuck with that.

Erik: Much of the HTML5 information out there is from Webkit/Google, and you start to assume that Webkit is the best out there when it’s not.

Branden: Every browser does it different. There is stuff that is broken in every browser.

Erik: We’re getting to a place where you can’t tell the difference between a website and an app. Sometime Apple and Microsoft etc. will just integrate javascript into the OS.

Emily: W3C is highly political, and they don’t care what we want. It’s just about the biggest guerilla in the room.

Branden: Flash got as far as it did (and quickly) because the standards are always going to move slow. Where we push the web is where standards go next.

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