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HTML5: A Ride on the Hype Cycle

With limited technical background to rely on, I decided I needed to enlist in some self-study to get caught up on all of the HTML5 buzz. So, what is the deal with HTML5? Is it good? Bad? Better than average? Barely functioning? Depending on whom you are talking with, any or all of those answers may be true.

What is HTML5?

HTML5 is the latest version of Hypertext Markup Language, used for structuring and presenting content on the web. HTML is “actually three kinds of code: HTML, which provides the structure; Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), which takes care of presentation; and JavaScript, which makes things happen.”(i)

The HTML5 hype began even before its initial release in 2009. It promised a long list of exciting features that were sure to make developers drool. Better user experience with new interactions and no need for plug-ins, cross browser functionality, game development, video and audio support, cleaner code, offline storage, and of course MOBILE MOBILE MOBILE!

That seems great, right? Soooo where is the problem?

Although HTML5 proves to be fantastic for the web, when it comes to mobile, HTML5 has lost its flare for the many developers, technology enthusiasts, and business executives formerly rooting for this so called wonder-language. While developing mobile for Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg publically noted, “we burned through two years on [HTML5]. It probably was the biggest strategic mistake we made.”(ii) That is because HTML5 is pushed outside of its comfort zone when it is used to create native apps outside of the browser. Mobile developers pushing the boundaries of HTML5 are now stuck at a dead end wondering if mobile is moving so fast that HTML5 may always be one step behind.

In it’s lifetime, HTML5 has followed what is referred to as the “hype cycle.” (iii)

  • First is the “Technology Trigger” – a breakthrough when the product is launched, interest is high, and adoption rates skyrocket – for HTML5, this was around 2009.
  • Second comes the “Peak of Inflated Expectations” – “WOW, look at everything HTML5 can do! You won’t need any other language ever!”...loads of over-enthusiasm and perhaps unrealistic expectations.
  • Third is the stage that we are trudging through right now, the “Trough of Disillusionment,” where technology fails to meet expectations and quickly becomes unfashionable.
  • Fourth, the “Slope of Enlightenment” highlights the slow rise that follows the big fall. Some companies will stick with it – experiment with HTML5, test it out, understand and capitalize on the good, and ditch the bad.
  • Lastly, the technology reaches the “Plateau of Productivity.” A stage where the benefits become known, accepted, and practiced.

Unfortunately today, HTML5 is still not mature enough to deliver on the “write once run everywhere”  expectations the technology community set for it, but it is not all doom and gloom.  At Maestro we are using HTML5 to build courses and web solutions to work in mobile and non-mobile environments.  Treading cautiously, we are pioneering the path and learning as we go. I mean, who are we to stop innovation? The continued exploration and maturity of HTML5 is certain change the future of this neophyte approach. Only time will tell how HTML5 will pave the road we continue to walk…


i ii iii

Sydney Hill

Not to mention refreshing, positive and downright invigorating. Should we expect anything less from a personality that absolutely bubbles…

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