HTML5 web apps are the new web standard. “But what are HTML5 web applications?” we here you ask, “and why are they so wonderful?” Well, we’re glad you asked.
First, the basics: obviously enough, HTML5 web apps are powered by the markup language known as HTML5. Developed by Tim Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web Consortium (or W3C), HTML5 seeks to update the HTML code language which has been the basis of the web since its inception. In particular, it seeks to enable the embedding of audio and video within pages without the use of third-party software – which a given user may or may not have installed – such as Flash.
The consistency offered by HTML5 is its key benefit to HMTL5 web app developers. Rather than develop an app in what is known as a ‘native environment’ – in other words, build to the particular demands and constraints of a given device – HTML5 web apps are in theory compatible across the whole range of web-capable platforms.
Native applications have their place: in fact, they can be the best option, especially where cross-platform usage isn’t an issue. If a business is looking for a web app for all their employees, it’s likely they’ll be using the same platform to access their data. HTML5 web apps may not be needed there.
When it’s time for an HTML5 web application, however, no other solution will do. If your customers are visiting your website using mobile devices and need an app-like environment – a forum, for instance, is a great example of a page that may need to display smartly – then HTML5 will deliver your site to every device in the right way.
Because of all the extra variables, HTML5 web applications are a little slower than ‘native apps’ – but if you can’t predict how users will be accessing your app, accept that reduced response in favour of proper display. It’s a better option than nagging your users via pop-ups to display your native app that will work for them better than the site they’re visiting.
So HTML5 web apps should be kept light – our app developers avoid leaning on pre-existing frameworks, or on ‘heritage’ code such as jQuery, because HTML5 web applications are at their best when they’re as streamlined as possible.
All this means that your HTML5 web app will seamlessly display not just across but within platforms: for example, because Android, unlike iOS, is an open source operating, there are many different iterations on the market – and HTML5 web applications will, without troubling the user, display correctly in the environment.
Designing HTML5 web applications is tricky because devices are their own beasts: devices ‘background’ apps differently; screens have various amounts of space or ‘chrome’ around the browser screen. But if you want to tame them all at once, try a HTML5 web app.