Despite concerns that it is far from being finished, HTML5 is ready for use, at least for most platforms and for most duties, asserted a Google developer.
"Depending on who you ask, HTML5 is already ready, or it won't be ready until 2022," said Google developer advocate Mark Pilgrim at the WWW2010 conference, being held this week in Raleigh, North Carolina. "The answer is both, depending on what your definition of 'ready' is."
Of course, with Steve Jobs' directive that Web developers use HTML5 instead of Adobe Flash for rendering Web pages and RIAs (Rich Internet Applications) viewable on the iPad, the question of HTML5's readiness for duty has been an urgent one.
And not everyone is convinced of the technology's maturity.
"While it's possible that in the long run HTML5 will become an acceptable substitute for some types of RIA platforms, it's not there yet. HTML5 will have a significant impact on how Web applications are built -- but as a complementary technology to leading RIA platforms, not a replacement," concluded Forrester analyst Jeffrey Hammond, in a report released last week.
For his presentation, Pilgrim, who is also writing a book about the next-generation markup language, reviewed HTML5's major new features, noting which browsers supported which features. He described his presentation as a follow-up to the Google 2009 I/O conference last year, in which Vic Gundotra, Google vice president of engineering, boldly proclaimed HTML5 ready for duty.
And, in a nutshell, if you include Microsoft still-in-beta Internet Explorer version 9, pretty much all the major browsers -- Safari, Chrome, Firefox, Opera -- now support HTML5, at least to varying degrees, Pilgrim said. On the mobile side, Google's Android and the iPhone support many HTML5 features as well.
Not all of HTML5 features are supported by the browsers, but many of the major features, including the new semantic tags, forms, multimedia, canvas, geolocation, and off-line Web applications, have found a home.
For instance, Canvas tag works across all the major Internet browsers except IE. It also works on the iPhone and the Android, Pilgrim said.
"Look! No Flash," he said, as he revealed the source code of the page.
On the multimedia front, HTML5 supports both audio and video. The designer can use a built-in browser control panel or build a customized one from scratch. Like the other HTML5 features, the built-in multimedia tags are declarative tags, meaning the designer can specify what features, such as autoplay or default controls, to include with a single declaration. If these choices were to be implemented in script, "they'd be harder to control," Pilgrim said.