HTML5 is essential for developing modern web sites and frequently touted as a future path for mobile app development, but its reputation is often clouded by hype. Here are five myths about HTML5 you shouldn't believe.
Lifehacker's coverage of Gartner Portals, Content & Collaboration Summit 2014 is presented by the Microsoft Cloud, providing flexible enterprise cloud solutions for business.
Gartner analyst Gene Phifer ran through some common HTML5 myths during a presentation at the Gartner PCC conference in Los Angeles. These are the five he singled out.
Myth: HTML5 is a single unified entity
Reality: "HTML5 is an term that covers a lot of things," Phifer said. "It's definitely not a cohesive single entity."
Myth: HTML5 is a well-defined standard
Reality: "There are multiple standards bodies with their fingers in the pie. Sometimes you get this duelling thing going on."
"HTML5 has problems, not the least of which is not done yet. It's still in the standards bodies. For the things that are done, you should feel safe to use them. But recognise that some bits are not done yet and if you have to go there, you may be entering the world of proprietary standards."
Some standards have also fallen by the wayside. "WebSQL is pretty much dead in the standards body," Phifer said. "I would not invest a lot of time in that. Look to IndexedDB instead."
Myth: HTML5 is a revolutionary and radical change
Reality: "It introduces a lot of new capabilities that we have been longing for. Is it going to create a whole new model? No. It is an evolutionary step versus a revolutionary step -- but that's OK."
Myth: HTML5 makes it easy to run on multiple devices
Reality: "Different browser vendors are adopting HTML5 at different paces," Phifer noted. And that creates future risks. "Browser vendors are notorious for extending standards. Many times those browser extensions get you into big trouble. Be careful about browsers. Don't write to browsers or browser versions. We know from history that's not smart, it hurts, it's expensive. "
"If you have to use extensions, compartmentalise that. Make sure you can tweak that code without having to go through everything. But if you don't have to, don't do it at all."
If you're after responsive design, you don't need full-blown HTML5; most of the key features are already in CSS3. "Responsive design uses a built-in feature of CSS3, CSS Media Query, and allows you to build one site and lay out how you want things to look on different sizes."
Myth: HTML5 has lousy performance
Reality: "HTML5 is performant, and it's getting better every day -- but depending on what you're doing you may need to do something different For some mobile apps, snippets of native code to supplement the web code can work."
HTML picture from Shutterstock