The arrival of new software is always greeted with enthusiasm. And so it was when I first tried out HTML5 and CSS3. I was looking forward to having gradients work without error, and having an easy way to create boxes with curvy corners. Also CSS has lots of named colours, rather than cryptic RGB hexadecimal numbers.
I am still coming to grips with the shock horror at the deprecation of the “Center” Tag. And the denigration of the usage of Tables. Grumble, grumble.
The new features of HTML5
Many of the constructs of old have been simplified or omitted – although the old version will still work.
The standards for HTML construction have been eased, perhaps to too great an extent. Microsoft’s Visual Studio enforces a stricter standard, and for a change I am in complete agreement with Microsoft (well, it had to happen, sometime!).
And then there are the new Semantic Elements.
The Semantic Elements
The new Semantic Elements had me reasonably baffled. I wasn’t too sure what Semantics had to do with Websites. It sounded more the field of expertise for a professor of linguistics.
There are now new Elements for Sections, Headers, Footers, Navigation, Articles, etc. The idea, I discovered, was simple enough. The HTML structure should be understandable by coders as well as Search Engine spiders.
But the new structures, together with the CSS, do not seem to simplify the coding at all. The complexity of Headers within Sections within Articles within Headers is daunting. And then there is the complexity of the CSS3 involved. The Website coder will need to be a graduate with a degree in Logic and Semantic Differentials, before being able to fully comprehend what the new Semantic Elements features are all about.
I cannot see results oriented Website designers being bothered to use the new Semantic Elements.
The Search Engines
Whether the Search Engines gain from the new Semantic Elements is debatable. One thing for sure, they will need to have much additional logic to cope with both the traditional coding, and the new structures.
And it won’t take long before some inventive coder befuddles the Elements and Structures in order to gain better rankings.
The Older Browsers
The number of people worldwide using Internet Explorer 6 has diminished to less than 1%. IE6 usage is low enough to be ignored, but IE7 and IE8 user numbers are still too high to be disregarded.
With some minor additions, the old Browsers can handle the new features without too much bother. There is “Modernizr” which will detect support, or lack of support, for HTML5 and CSS3 features in the user’s Browser. The Progressive Internet Explorer (PIE) will add Polyfill features like rounded corners, shadows and gradients.
HTML5, CSS3 and Mobiles
Whether the success of HTML5 and CSS3 in the Mobile market will translate to the desktop and Websites is debatable. Starting from fresh to program a new iPad is one thing – converting 700 million Websites is yet another.
Current Website Practices
In order to get a feeling for the implementation of HTML5, I viewed a few popular Websites:
- The Google Search uses HTML5. I am not too sure how meaningful this is. The secure site seems mainly constructed to prevent automated reading attempts to determine Website rankings. And the HTML code is comprised entirely of Scripting. No Semantic Elements did I see.
- The Microsoft, Amazon and Hewlett Packard Websites are still using XHMTL 1.0 transitional.
- Intel is one step ahead – they are using XHTML 1.0 Strict.
- Walmart is on HTML5 – but none of the new Semantic Elements are being used.
I guess we can conclude that there is no rush to use the new standards or features.
Where there is a Website that is to be upgraded to HTML5 and CSS3, I feel that most coders will follow the Walmart example. That is the functionality of HTML5 and CSS3 will be used, but not the Semantic Elements. This will make the upgrade as easy as can be.
For a new and simple Website, some intrepid coders may try their hand experimenting with the new Semantic Elements.