What is HTML5 – Overview of HTML5 Features

The web has evolved a lot in the past decade. Streaming audio and video has become extremely popular, the web has become dynamic and interactive, and the focus has become more individual. To simplify the process of creating modern web services, the W3C(World Wide Web) Consortium and the WHATWG( Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group) has formulated HTML5. So what is it?

What is HTML5?

HTML5 is a collection of technologies that extend the core HTML markup language. It adds new tags like video, audio and canvas. Other tags like a, cite and menu have been retooled to fit modern practices better. New tags have also been introduced to provide more information about what text is being displayed. A new geolocation API has been introduced to let you access where users are. Finally, the methods that browsers use to ignore errors have been documented and standardized.

The Video and Audio tags

Two of the most debated tags are the video and audio tags. These tags are designed to let you post audio and video to the web without having to worry about a third party plugin to make it work, like we used to have to with Flash. The problem is that different browser makers wanted different formats. Browsers maintained by corporations (Like Google and Apple’s offerings) wanted to go with H.264 for its superior picture quality.

The problem was that it is not a free format, and there was the threat of royalties. Also all advancement on the standard would have to be done by the company that owns the patents, so it is a bit of a dead end. Smaller browsers instead wanted to go with Ogg Vorbis, which is a free and open source video format. The problem is that its picture quality and compression rate are inferior to H.264. Google has tried to solve the problem by releasing VP8 as open source. VP8 still has inferior compression and picture quality, but it is better than Ogg Vorbis and is likely to get better. Firefox, Chrome and Opera all support WebM, but Internet Explorer and Safari still only support H.264.

The audio tag is caught in the video codec mess. Because the video codec bundles a audio codec with it, whatever video codec is chosen determines the audio codec. We still have to wait and see which codec comes out on top.


The most interesting new tag is canvas. Canvas allows you to establish an area of the screen that you can draw to. Once created, you can fill it with images, lines and other things that are all interactive. You can move them all in code. The idea is that this allows you to stop relying on external plugins like Flash and instead to take advantage of native web technologies like javascript. Many people are already using Canvas to make games, and it is quite possible you will begin to see it replace Flash in interactive sites. The one major problem that Canvas has is Javascript performance. Flash consumes lots of your system’s resources, but it can do fairly complex things. Javascript slows down quickly because it is nowhere near as efficient during execution.


HTML5 is still being adopted. Most browsers only support parts of the specification, so it is likely to be a while before we see widespread adaptation. But the promise is there: easier coding, more advanced websites, and richer applications. Then again, people have been working on this for years and it still isn’t being used; pushing adoption will be a problem.

Guest post by Britney Baker, a freelance blogger who normally ranks prepaid phones for PrepaidCellphones.net.

Filed under: Coding and Design
Tags: , , , ,
December 13, 2010 by: Prasanth Chandra

Leave a Reply