4 reasons to jump to HTML5

If you want to improve your search rankings, better support mobile readers, and transform your development process, it's time to integrate HTML5

Much of the coverage of HTML5 over the last couple of years has focused its role in the grand strategy of corporate combat: Will Apple standardize on HTML5? Is Google counteracting with its support of Flash? Lost in the maneuvering are the real technical accomplishments of HTML5, and the tactical opportunities they enable for individual organizations.

If you want to improve your search rankings, better support mobile readers, and transform your development process, it's time to integrate HTML5 into your Web work.

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First, a few words of clarification. "HTML5" is not a single product in the manner of, say, the 11g release of Oracle's database management system. Instead, HTML5 is a collection of definitions, which, even in the narrowest sense, no existing Web browser fully supports, but all major Web browsers partially support.

More broadly, HTML5 includes not just HTML standards, but also the associated CSS3 (Cascading Style Sheets), JavaScript, multimedia codecs, and SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) that work together to make the most of the new HTML definitions.

Of course, HTML5 might not be right for every organization at this point. Whether it's justified for a specific situation requires detailed knowledge of end-users' browsers, the parts of HTML5 used, and an organization's goals for its Web presence.

No practical applications yet use all of HTML5. The compatibility of the parts you need, with the browsers your end-users run, and your server-side technology, is a matter for thoughtful consultation.

But, it's safe to say that now is the time for most development shops to adopt HTML5, and to begin taking advantage of its four powerful benefits.

1. Faster image downloads, especially for mobile users
In Web page design, a "gradient" is a background effect: a subtle shading or texturing of the "window" on which your Web site proper is viewed. Corporate designers go to considerable lengths to balance shades, match borders, and otherwise achieve a tone or style whose effect on most viewers is both important and unconscious. Jacob Gube, founder of Six Revisions, shows "25 Great Examples of Using Gradient Effects in Web Designs".

The first two decades of gradient effects were achieved by "painting". Before HTML5, a background had to be supplied as an image (perhaps spliced together from several sub-images). Photoshop, for example, has a "gradient tool" largely used to construct background images for use as gradients. This has been wildly successful, in the sense that essentially every competent Web designer commonly employs gradients realized as background images.

HTML5 changes this. The CSS3 part of HTML5 expresses gradients semantically, that is, in meaningful words, rather than pictures. Here's an example:

.gradientArea { background: -o-linear-gradient(#FFB260, #FF7F13); filter: progid:DXImageTransform.Microsoft.gradient( startColorstr='#ffb260', endColorstr='#ff7f13', GradientType=0); } }

The detailed syntax of this example, or its rendering into a lightly-shaded orange rectangle, isn't important; what matters is the consequence of expressing it through words rather than images.

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