Over the last 12 months, the momentum behind HTML5 has continued to build, with application developers, browser makers and hardware vendors fully embracing and supporting the web of the future. Consumers have started to embrace HTML5 as well, especially as more users understand the benefits and potential that HTML5 can mean for the future.
Let’s look at some of the aspects of HTML5 that are already making their mark on web app development.
Better Typography and Custom Fonts
The Web Open Font Format, or WOFF, might technically be part of the HTML5 specification, but WOFF, SVG and the CSS3 @font-face specification are all commonly used additions to HTML5.
The adoption of web fonts, whether it’s using WOFF, services like Fonts.com, Typekit or the Google Web Font API is increasing at a rapid pace. This development gives content creators, brands and developers a way to better express and control the most important part of an app or website — the text — without having to rely on images or Flash implementations that don’t always work well for translated text or with search engines.
Since first highlighting this trend last year, the number of web apps that support custom fonts using Google, Typekit, Fonts.com or any number of other solutions has only increased. We expect this to continue, especially as adoption of the latest and greatest web browsers continues to grow.
Frameworks, Boilerplates and Toolkits
Last year, Paul Irish and Divya Manian introduced HTML5 Boilerplate to the world.
Over the last seven months, the project has exploded and grown in both scope and support. As we said last year, HTML5 Boilerplate is not a framework. Instead, it’s a template that can be modified by developers for their own use.
HTML5 Boilerplate 1.0 was released on March 21, 2011 with support for optimized build scripts, a custom boilerplate builder, and perhaps most excitingly for app developers — support for lighttpd, Google App Engine and NodeJS, as well as old favorites Apache, Nginx and IIS. The number of websites using HTML5 Boilerplate continues to grow and evolve.
Examples in the Wild
When Google launched its Chrome Web Store last December, it was one of the best showcases of what HTML5 web apps could offer users.
Over the last few months, more apps have been added to the store and more companies have started to optimize or rewrite their web apps specifically with HTML5.
TweetDeck is one of the most popular Twitter clients on the desktop and is revered by users. Chrome TweetDeck (or ChromeDeck) was one of the big standouts last winter, and it continues to set a high standard for what users can expect from a web application. It’s also the most popular app in the Chrome Web Store.
Earlier this month, TweetDeck announced the limited beta for its TweetDeck Web product. Built using HTML5, TweetDeck Web takes the core of the TweetDeck Chrome app and applies it to other platforms and browsers. The goal is to make the TweetDeck experience browser- and device-agnostic, and it is part of TweetDeck’s broader strategy approaching mobile and desktop apps.
Creative web app company Aviary introduced Feather, its HTML5 Photo Editor, last year. Feather isn’t only a lightweight image editor with lots of cool effects. It can be seamlessly embedded into other web apps to give additional functionality to developers who don’t have time or money to create their own solutions.
In April, Aviary announced its plans to open up its Effects API to web and mobile developers. This will allow developers to easily add effects and filters, auto-correct photos and create thumbnails or quick crops without needing user interaction.
The Future is Bright
I firmly believe that we will continue to see the worlds of web applications and desktop apps converge. It’s already happened with email, chat and social communication — the next step is to make it viable for data processing, multimedia and, ultimately, web development itself.
HTML5 is going to play a big role in enabling web developers do more with pure web apps, without needing to rely on third-party plugins or extensions. As browsers become better attuned and optimized for the evolving HTML standard, the opportunities will only increase.