From MozillaWiki
Jump to: navigation, search

NeMo Article Base
HTML5: The way to go!
Back to Article Base | Home
by Dwaraka Nath

Lately, it’s been all about HTML5 all around. In internet, magazines and news reports. What and why does it matter to all of us? Well, for the absolute beginners of the Web, this is how it goes.

HTML is called the Hypertext markup language. During the early 90’s when the Web was still in large development, it was nothing short of an online photocopy of the books and documents in paper. Suppose, say you need to access a book in the web, you’ll get it as a full page, sometimes with nearly 20,000 lines of absolute text. No images, graphics, nothing. Reading a book seemed much easier compared to reading it online. Whopping 20,000 lines, scrolling and navigating through the lines, proved very boring and un-interesting. Well, that was way back, like two decades ago.

The scenario changed step by step. The inventors of the web (mainly the people at CERN), realized, What if we could bring out each page in the book as separate web pages and provide a way to move to the next page ? So, now, you could access a single page at a time, navigation wouldn’t be a problem, a little content each page would make scrolling and reading much easier than earlier. Idea was great ! and thus came the concept of Hypertext ! Hypertext is the way to link webpages. Plan was to provide a link to subsequent pages for navigation. And shortly, they introduced means to format the textual content in the webpages. So, now, you could differentiate between text sizes, underlines, bold words, paragraphs and things like that. Wow, web was improving greatly.

As time passed, “Why not introduce graphics and images?” the developers asked themselves. “Oh. Sure. Why not?”. And yes, images made their way towards Web development. Slowly, it was images all over the place. And, one by one, new technologies came popping over. Notably among them, is the usage of Video in Webpages? Having videos in webpages is so cool. It brings so much life into things, a better interaction with the reader and provides greater understandability to the issue you try to address.

So, okay. Web pages have all the content. Now, how will the Web browser or the device you use to access the web content, understand where to have the video, paragraph alignment, the image placement etc. A way was needed to tell the browser that this content must be place here. That content needs to place there and like, the content that follows now, is a video and it must be centered. Each element of the webpage needs to be identified separately. That’s how tags came into place in a HTML. Tagging of content in a HTML is exactly the reason why HTML is called the “Markup Language”.

Consider, you prepare for your exam. You have large numbers of pages to read. You don’t read them blindly. Do you? Wherever and whenever you come across some notes or points that are important and need to be emphasized while writing, you try to highlight them with your maker, underline them. In a way, you are marking things that are important; you mark up things that are heading or sub-headings. You differentiate among the content available.

The same idea is being used in the webpages. You are marking up the various elements in the webpage for the browser to differentiate between. This marking up, just as how we highlight in books, is achieved in the Web through the use of tags. Tags specify the content that follows, if it’s a paragraph, if that is an embedded audio or video object, if that is an external content etc.

A lot of features that the web of today uses, like Video and Audio, use third-party applications and codecs (short for COder and DECoder) for playback. This restricts content distribution across various platforms. Like, some browsers like Mozilla Firefox support only ogg vorbis (an open Audio format) and theora (open video format) formats. Mac’s Safari supports only .mp3 file formats. Opera again, support .wav file playback. These formats that the browsers support by themselves are called their native formats. What format will I choose to go with now? Confusion! This is completely eliminated with the arrival of HTML5. All browsers shall support a standard video element that could be embedded as a separate tag. Which standard video format could be used is being still debated on. Initially Ogg Vorbis Theora was considered. And amid concerns from Apple Inc., this was later changed to MP4, but is still in very much confusion as to which video format, the browser must support.

Another notable feature that would be introduced with the html5 would be a native support to a standard audio format. It is expected to be something among, Ogg Vorbis, MP3 or Wav formats.

SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) and MathML would become inline from now on. Meaning, they would also be available as tags to be embedded into. Scalable Vector Graphics is a XML specification for drawing Dynamic Graphics and Images with lots of features for compression and scripting ability. MathML would enable us to write Mathematical equations with much ease. Mathematical equation representation in Web pages has always been a problem from the very beginning. In most cases, it was done by the use of images for equation. This problem is also expected to go with the introduction of html5.

HTML5 allows offline application running and storage. Many other features that come with the html5 are, timed media playback, document editing, Drag and drop, Geolocation.

With already a number of sites, starting to use the HTML5, this is bound to rock!