Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat: I’m a huge fan of HTML 5. So before I explain why it’s hard – nay, practically impossible – to sell HTML 5 to your boss, I wanted to start with some of the language’s more praiseworthy features. Here are a few things that I’m looking forward to:
- New Semantic based tags instead of old divs: Traditionally, a web developer’s life was overrun with generic divs and spans for all kind of containers in HTML. With HTML 5, there are new semantic-based tags which are container relevant to their usage. There are a number of tags introduced named <header> for header of webpage, <footer> for footer , <section> etc which are more relevant to their usage than the previous generic divs.
- No Plug-in for Video: Previously, video required some type of plug-in, like Flash, QuickTime or Silverlight to name a few. With HTML 5, we can now simply use the <video> tag.
- No Plugin for Audio : Similar to video, audio can now be played using the <audio> tag with the help of HTML 5.
- Canvas Support: Canvas support is a huge deal for web developers. With the power of Canvas, they can now draw things dynamically on to their screen. In the past, they were dependent on languages like action script for such activities.
- Lower Mobile dev Costs: Mobile web development becomes much more efficient and easy with HTML 5
I could go on. In spite of these and other features, it’s incredibly hard for developers to sell their bosses on the idea of switching to HTML 5. To illustrate, let’s listen in on a hypothetical conversation between a developer and his or her boss:
Developer: – “There are some costs involved, but switching to HTML 5 will make all of our lives much easier in the long run. Our product will be much more mobile-friendly, our UIs will be easier to develop and manage – we’ll be way ahead of the game by the time everyone else gets around to switching.”
Boss: “What are those costs you mentioned?”
Developer: “Well, there are a few tiny issues with browser compatibility.”
Boss: “Will our HTML 5 app work across all browsers?”
Developer: “Sort of … [long pause]…actually, no. Not all browsers support HTML 5.”
Boss: “Hopefully just the least used ones, right?
Developer: “Unfortunately, many of the most popular browsers currently don’t support HTML 5. There are some libraries that can support it, but….”
Boss: “Seems like the timing isn’t quite right. When will this technology be ready for widespread use?”
Developer: “Probably 2013.”
Developer: “Definitely by 2014…2015 at the latest.”
Boss: “Okay, we’ll chat then.”
Developer: “Can we talk about my raise now?”
Boss: [surprised look] “You’re still here?”
Developers are notorious for giving ambiguous answers (especially when it comes to deadlines) but sometimes that’s the only answer we can give. So if you ask me when HTML 5 is going to be ready, I’d say: “not any time soon.”
There’s no doubt that HTML 5 is the future of the web (and perhaps mobile as well) but it’s clearly in the very early stages of adoption – making it a challenge for developers to sell their bosses on making the switch.
In fact, it’s even hard to convince those companies who have already made the switch. Take the recent example set by Wooga. The social gaming giant just announced that they are abandoning their HTML 5 efforts in favor of native apps. Read this nice summary to see why they felt this decision was necessary.
Anyway, my point is that I’m very optimistic about HTML 5 in the long run. In the short run, however, I expect it to be met with doubt and skepticism by upper management.
Thoughts? Share them in the comment section.