How to use HTML5 on your website today

Don't wait for the Flash-iPhone war to end: InfoWorld's hands-on guide tells you how to get your websites ready for HTML5 now

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Working offline, with local storage. Keeping your data in the cloud is a great idea -- until you find yourself without Internet access. Or maybe you have a Web app that works with large amounts of data, more than you want to be continuously shuffling back and forth to a server. Or perhaps you have a limited data plan on your mobile device, so you want to do as much work offline as possible. Whichever the issue, the answer is to utilize offline Web applications using local storage that sync back to the cloud when you reconnect.

The browsers that currently support HTML5's ability to work offline are Firefox 3.5+, Safari Mobile 3.1+, Safari 4+, and Chrome 4+.

Canvas, animations, and transformations. One of the promises of HTML5 has been the all-illustrated, all-animated Web, using the new canvas element and assorted CSS3 properties. Here's where things stand as of July 12, 2010:

Specification

Description

IE

Firefox

Safari

Chrome

canvas

Dynamic graphics

9

3

3.2

3

canvas text API

Displaying text on canvas

9

3.5

4

3

Transitions

Animating properties of elements (simple)

?

4

3.2

3

Animation

Animating properties of elements (complex)

?

?

4

3

3D canvas graphics/WebGL

Dynamic 3D graphics with hardware acceleration

?

4

5

5

Transforms

Rotate and scale elements

?

3.5

3.2

3

3D Transforms

Transformations through a third dimension

?

?

5

?


Key: Green = Implemented. Red = No announced plans.


Shortcuts to HTML5's bleeding edge
If you're too impatient to wait for IE8 to die of old age, there are a number of ways to skip ahead -- again, depending on what your site logs say about your visitors. For instance, Google's Chrome Frame plug-in puts an instance of Chrome into IE browsers. If you know your IE-using site visitors are likely to have GCF installed, you can then force its usage with this small addition to the head of your pages:

<meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="chrome=1">

That, plus a little JavaScript (provided by Google) to redirect users without GCF installed, is all you may need to work around IE's limitations.

The elements listed in this article are only a few of the ones currently included as part of HTML5 or CSS3. If there's a feature you just have to start using now, chances are good there's an open source project that is figuring out how to make it work for less-capable browsers.

Many of the media reports about HTML5 have focused on the politics, the "not until 2022" sound bite, or on HTML5's prospects as a "Flash killer." The reality of HTML5 is simply that it's the long-needed and long-overdue update to HTML4 -- and you can start to implement it today.

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This article, "How to use HTML5 on your website today," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in business applications and HTML at InfoWorld.com.

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