How HTML5 will change the Web

HTML5 will spawn richer, more sophisticated Websites while also easing development. Here are nine ways the impact of HTML5 will be felt

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The technique does not need to undermine the hard work of cloud proponents, though, because the local databases can act like smart caches. Game programmers might store descriptions and artwork locally, saving the time of downloading the information again and again.

On the downside, these databases are buried deeply in the system folder, so making backups may not be the simplest step. Users who may want to move their local data from machine to machine will pull out their hair. Or perhaps we’ll just see a hybrid cloud/local approach appear where the local machine caches the data but the cloud maintains a definitive version that can be accessed from different machines.

HTML5 will simplify scraping with cyborg data

Anyone who’s scraped data from Web pages knows that the structure offered by HTML does little except tell the browser where to place the information. There’s no insight into the data itself, something that would help a programmer make sense of the information. The so-called microformats in HTML5 provide a mechanism to introduce more sophisticated markup into the HTML that makes it easier to analyze the data.

No one can predict just how much change the microformats will bring to the Web, but it’s easy to see how they will empower programmers to whip together solutions. If there’s one nice, standard way to represent dates and times, for example, then programmers can knit together the time-related information from Websites without bothering to write sophisticated parsers that guess at the format one person chose. Calendars, timelines, and schedules drawn from multiple sources become much simpler to craft.

HTML5 will add location to the mix

To the Web server, we were once just IP addresses, relatively anonymous numbers that had only a rough correspondence to the real world. The HTML5 standard now lets JavaScript ask the browser for the latitude and longitude of the user. It typically doesn’t work with a desktop system (GPS or Wi-Fi required), but it works quite well with handheld smartphones.

No one knows what clever programmers will create with this location information, but it’s bound to integrate cyberspace with meatspace in unpredictable and amazing ways.

HTML5 will smooth the way to Web video

The HTML5 video tag makes it easier for Web developers to integrate video with the information on the rest of the page, opening up the bag of tricks to jQuery and PHP developers, not just Flash, Silverlight, or JavaFX magicians.

Despite this vision, there’s little coherence, as everyone wants to be the ones distributing the codecs for unpacking the moving images and the corresponding sound. The HTML5 standard is codec-neutral, which means that we’re replacing the old world where the add-on software was called a plug-in with a new world where the add-on is called a codec. So there’s a standard video tag, but the browser may or may not know how to interpret the data.

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