Thursday, 22 December 2011

The Definitive Guide To HTML5: 14 Predictions For 2012

 Guest contributor Ben Savage is the founder of, a native Javascript and HTML5 platform for mobile game developers.
From tech titans like Zynga, Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Apple, to startups just launching, the battle lines of 2012 will be drawn across the landscape of HTML5. Below are 14 bold predictions for how HTML5 will evolve in 2012.

Welcome to a more interconnected web:
In 2012, HTML5 will be adding support for some really useful and cool APIs that allow one
website to connect to another.

For example, Zynga games on Facebook run inside of iframes. Using the new postMessage API these games will be able to communicate within the containing Facebook frame directly. Before HTML5, inter-window communication had to rely on a remote server – or use unreliable hacks.
Another exciting addition is CORS (Cross Origin Resource Sharing). This will make it much easier for different websites to share information with one another. For example, CORS will enable startups to create photo-editing services that download your photos from Facebook, let you modify them, and then re-upload them – again without having to resort to ugly hacks.

With all of the new semantic information (see Semantics and Microdata) available with HTML5, it will become much easier to create web tools that extract information from web pages. As a result, you can expect to see a plethora of new mashup services, as well as better browser modes (like readers and translators).

Web browsers will look more like iPhones
Everyone loves Apple’s iOS. Now it’s coming to the HTML5 web. In 2012 your browsers will start
push notifications, geolocation, and offline capable applications. Some browsers will likely adopt a more iOS-like user interface that will make the comparison all the more apt.

More and more applications will just be built in HTML5 instead of downloadable apps
If you’re like me, you already use web apps for email, calendars, and photo-sharing, but in 2012 more classes of applications will be HTML5 enabled. Next up, you can expect to see content creation apps like Inkscape and Illustrator emerge for HTML5 and start to catch on.

Internet Explorer & Microsoft will dramatically improve in coolness.
Internet explorer’s reputation will stop being “the browser where nothing works right” and start being “the fast browser”. Microsoft has made major investments into improving HTML5 performance that will give IE 10 a huge performance lead over competing browsers. Its hardware accelerated “canvas” will blow away all the other browsers in any speed test. Microsoft is also adding interesting ways for the HTML5 web and the desktop to work together that will really spice up its operating system. Having good support from IE will be the impetus that will really turn the tide in favor of authoring HTML5 applications.

Browser manufacturers will get into the App Store business
Taking a cue from Apple, browser manufacturers will start to realize that they are missing out by not being in the app store business. Google Chrome already has an integrated app-store as its splash page. Expect many other browsers to follow. This is actually a good thing for HTML5 application developers – it means more distribution opportunities for apps, although platform specific payment systems and platform revenue-shares will follow later on.
At least one major console game released or re-released using WebGL
In 2012, at least one AAA console game company is going to make the leap and decide to launch a 3D title on the web using WebGL instead of (or in addition to) creating a downloadable client. It might be a re-release of a well-known title (Like “Team Fortress 2″ or “Assassins Creed”), or another way to play a popular MMO (like “Eve Online” or “World of Warcraft”), or it may be an entirely new title launching for the first time.

Many more applications will use offline cache and will work offline
The offline application cache will dramatically improve the usability and speed of HTML5 apps. Querying a local database will allow applications to avoid a round-trip to the server, eliminating that laggy web-app feel that makes us all prefer native apps today.

In 2012, expect to see a few issues arise from this extended usage. You’ll lose your work by clearing your cache at least once or twice. Also expect security vulnerabilities to keep showing up that allow malicious applications to access private files stored on your computer by another

HTML5 ads will become prevalent and overtake Flash ads
Website owners keen to monetize the increasingly large amount of traffic coming from iOS devices will demand HTML5 ads (rather than Flash ads). Startups will emerge to serve this market. These startups will solve the sand boxing, security, and authoring tools issues that this new market will face. Now that HTML5 is capable of doing everything that flash ads commonly do, it’s just a matter of time before they take over.

JavaScript will get a lot faster with better memory management and typed arrays
JavaScript has gotten really, really fast – it’s already among the world’s fastest scripting languages – but there is room for improvement. Google Chrome has started pushing the envelope on better memory management and garbage collection algorithms. This, combined with typed arrays, will bring JavaScript performance closer to more mature languages like Java.

Canvas will get hardware acceleration in more browsers (but no major mobile browsers)
Other browser makers will follow Internet Explorer’s lead and add hardware acceleration to their canvas implementations. Those that don’t will suffer a severe loss in mind-share. Firefox is most at-risk in this regard. If Mozilla fails to accelerate their canvas it risks being portrayed as the new IE — slow and bloated and burdened down with legacy code.

However, in 2012, no major mobile browsers will successfully roll out a hardware-accelerated canvas. We will have to wait until 2013 to start seeing that catch on.

People will play popular HTML5 games on their mobile devices from Zynga and others, but they will be very simple games
You can expect to see your friends playing games like Zynga Poker, Words with Friends, and Mafia Wars on their mobile phones, running purely in HTML5. These games will be played on both destination websites and within native applications (like the Facebook app).

However, successful HTML5 games on mobile devices will be limited to menu-based games, card games, board games, turn-based multiplayer games, and avatar customizer games. More complex and visually intensive Zynga “Ville” style games with isometric worlds or hundreds of animating sprites will not yet strike gold in 2012.

Facebook will release improved HTML5-based APIs that allow for more seamless integration with external websites
In its continued quest to be the de facto social-graph of the web, Facebook Connect will grow and expand to take advantage of new HTML5 features. This will allow even deeper and richer integration of Facebook connect with external websites and services.

Facebook will get a lot more seamlessly integrated with your desktop
Think drag-and-drop, file system access, photo synching, and widgets on your desktop. All of these features (and more) will start to blur the line between desktop and browser, bringing your social graph more closely into contact with your traditional desktop experience.

Apple will NOT fix HTML5 sound in mobile Safari
HTML5 sound used to work well in mobile Safari, back in the days iOS3. However, Apple disabled most of the API in iOS 4 and 5. It just introduces competition for iTunes — both the music store, and the App Store. In its continued fight to maintain total control over the Apple ecosystem, they will refrain from fixing HTML5 sound in 2012.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Microsoft updates Windows Azure cloud platform

Microsoft has released new features of its Windows Azure cloud development platform, including open source capabilities and simplified billing and management.

Developers partial to open source development will benefit from the first Windows Azure software development kit (SDK) that includes language libraries for Node.JS, with support for hosting, storage and service bus.
Microsoft is delivering an Apache Hadoop-based service for Windows Azure to bolster the platform’s big data functionality, helping customers take advantage of advanced data analytics.
“These changes will help developers build applications on Windows Azure using the languages and frameworks they already know,” said Microsoft in a blog post.

As part of efforts to make it easier to get started and manage applications on Windows Azure, the update offers a free 90-day trial and spending caps that simplify the sign-up process.

Managing cloud costs

The new Windows Azure Management Portal enables customers to view real-time usage and billing details so they can more easily control how much they use and spend on the cloud platform.Microsoft said the update offers customers greater flexibility for scaling and managing databases by increasing the maximum database size for SQL Azure from 50GB to 150GB and introducing a price cap which lowers the effective cost per gigabyte for customers with large databases.

“This change allows customers with 50GB databases and larger to continue to grow without additional costs,” said Microsoft.

Securing applications against hackers

In October, Adrienne Hall, general manager of Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing group, told Computer Weekly that Azure customers are showing that cloud implementations are moving from collaboration applications only to include mission-critical applications as well.

With less than 1% of security exploits in the first half of 2011 being against zero-day or unpatched vulnerabilities, organisations can guard against most attacks by getting the basics right, she said.
This also means that by switching to cloud-based managed services, organisations have the opportunity to transfer some of the risk of common threats to service providers, said Hall.

"Most risks are manageable, but many organisations are not doing all they can to reduce attacks. Cloud-based managed services could help with that," she said.Cloud providers, such as Microsoft, are resourced to focus on security, said Hall, and in moving the management of a portion of security functions, resources are freed up to focus on other areas of security or on different IT projects altogether.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Working with Media in HTML5

Unless you have been living on a remote island for the past year or so, you have probably heard the buzz and hype around HTML5. No, HTML5 will not cure most illnesses, nor will it end world hunger, but it is poised to reshape the rich Internet application landscape. With all the hype over the new HTML standard, it's important to bring the discussion back down to earth. Here are the important facts you need to know about this new HTML specification:
  • HTML5 is the first new version of the specification since 1999—the Web has changed a lot since then.
  • HTML5 will be the new standard for HTML, XHTML and the HTML DOM.
  • HTML5 provides a standard way of playing media—a key benefit  because there was no standard for playing media in a Web page without a browser plug-in, and no guarantee that every browser would support the plug-in.
  • HTML5 is still a work in progress, but most modern browsers have some HTML5 tag support.
When Silverlight 1.0 shipped in 2007, Microsoft touted its video and audio playback as primary features, and a prime reason to see Silverlight as an alternative to Flash—which is supported in one version or another on 95 percent of browsers worldwide. As of this writing, Silverlight is supported on around 75 percent of browsers worldwide, or about three of every four computers. But if you’re looking to play media and you don’t want to the hassle or the dependency of a plug-in, HTML5 is the answer.
To see the difference between using the HTML5 video tag and the traditional object tag to play media, consider the example in Figure 1.
Figure 1  The HTML Video Tag vs. the Object Tag to Play Media
  1. <section>
  2.     <h1>Using the HTML5 Video tag to play video</h1>
  3.     <video src="video1.mp4" >
  4.     </video>
  5. </section>
  6. <section>
  7.     <h1>Using the Object tag to play media using the Flash plug-in</h1> 
  8.     <object type="application/x-shockwave-flash"
  9.                data="player.swf" width="290" height="24">
  10.         <param name="movie" value="player.swf">
  11.     </object>
  12. </section>
So what’s the big deal? Both examples are simple and easy to implement. But the important point here is that because the <video> tag is a standard, there will be no question that it should be used to play media. You don’t have to guess if a browser has a certain version of a particular plug-in installed to play your media. The standard part is what’s been missing from HTML.

Supported Media Formats in HTML5

To use media in your next HTML5 application, you need to know what formats are supported. HTML5 supports AAC, MP3 and Ogg Vorbis for audio and Ogg Theora, WebM and MPEG-4 for video.
Even though HTML5 supports these media formats, however, not every browser supports every format. Figure 2 shows current browsers and the media formats they support.
Figure 2 Media Support in Current Browsers

BrowserVideo FormatsAudio Formats
 Ogg TheoraH.264VP8 (WebM)Ogg VorbisMP3Wav
Internet ExplorerManual install9.0Manual installNoYesNo
Mozilla Firefox3.5No4.0YesNoYes
Google Chrome3.0No6.0YesYesYes
SafariManual install3Manual installNoYesYes

Using the Video Tag

To play a video in an HTML5 page, just use the <video> tag, as shown here:
  1. <video src="video.mp4" controls />
The src attribute ( sets the name or names of the video to play, and the control’s Boolean switch dictates whether the default playback controls displays. You can also use two other Boolean properties—autoplay and loop—when setting up the video tag. Figure 3 lists each property attribute and its value.
Figure 3 Video Tag Properties

 AudioMutedDefines the default state of the audio. Currently, only muted is allowed.
 AutoplayAutoplayIf present, the video starts playing as soon as it’s ready.
 ControlsControlsAdds Play, Pause and Volume controls.
 HeightPixelsSets the height of the video player.
 LoopLoopIf present, the video will start over again every time it finishes.
 PosterurlSpecifies the URL of an image representing the video.
 PreloadPreloadIf present, the video is loaded at page load and is ready to run. It is ignored if Autoplay is present.
 SrcurlThe URL of the video to play.
 WidthPixelsSets the width of the video player.

The following code shows a few of the key properties on the video player in a common scenario that includes setting the height and width, autoplay, loop and controls properties, which will display the play, pause and volume controls as well as a fallback error message.
  1. <video src="video.mp4" width="320" height="240" autoplay controls loop>
  2.     Your browser does not support the video tag.
  3. </video>
You can also set the specific MIME typeusing the type attribute and codec in the source element. These examples use the type attribute to set the MIME type and the encoding of the media:
  1. <!-- H.264 Constrained baseline profile video (main and extended video compatible)
  2.   level 3 and Low-Complexity AAC audio in MP4 container -->
  3. <source src='video.mp4' type='video/mp4; codecs="avc1.42E01E, mp4a.40.2"'>
  4. <!-- H.264 Extended profile video (baseline-compatible) level 3 and Low-Complexity
  5.   AAC audio in MP4 container -->
  6. <source src='video.mp4' type='video/mp4; codecs="avc1.58A01E, mp4a.40.2"'>
You can set properties in either HTML or JavaScript. The following code shows how to set the Boolean controls property in HTML and JavaScript.
<!-- 3 ways to show the controls -->
<video controls>
<video controls="">
<video controls="controls">
// 2 ways to show controls in JavaScript
video.controls = true;
When you don’t know whether a browser will render the page, you need a fallback mechanism to play your media. All you do is list the video formats you have rendered your video in, and the browser plays the first one it supports. You can also add text as a last resort to let the user know that the browser being used doesn’t support native HTML5 playback of video. The following code includes multiple video sources as well as a fallback message indicating no HTML5 support.
  1. <video controls>
  2.     <source src="video1.mp4" />
  3.     <source src="video1.ogv" />
  4.     <source src="video1.webm" />
  5.     <p>This browser does not support HTML5 video</p>
  6. </video>
If you want to make sure your video plays, you can include the object tag to play a Flash version as well, like so:
  1. <video controls>
  2.     <source src="video1.mp4" />
  3.     <source src="video1.ogv" />
  4.     <source src="video1.webm" />
  5.     <object data="videoplayer.swf">
  6.         <param name="flashvars" value="video1.mp4">
  7.         HTML5 Video and Flash are not supported
  8.     </object>
  9. </video>
You can also use JavaScript to check if a video format is supported by checking the canPlayType property, as follows:
  1. var video = document.getElementsByTagName('video')[0];
  2. if (video.canPlayType)
  3.    { // video tag supported
  4. if (video.canPlayType('video/ogg; codecs="theora, vorbis"'))
  5.       { // it may be able to play}
  6.         else
  7.       {// the codecs or container are not supported
  8.         fallback(video);
  9.   }
  10. }
If you want to do something more expressive than the simple fallback text, you can use the onerror event listener to pass the error to:
  1. <video src="video.mp4"
  2.        onerror="fallback(this)">
  3.        video not supported
  4. </video>
Using the poster property, you can specify the URL of an image to show in place of the video on the form. Usually you’re showing either a list of videos or a single video on a form, so having an easy way to show a preview of the video in the form of an image delivers a better user experience. Here is the poster property in action:
  1. <video src="video1.mp4" poster="preview.jpg" </video>
Finally, by using a bit of JavaScript and basic HTML, you can create a more interactive video player. Figure 4 shows how to add a video player to a form with JavaScript and how to respond to user input to the control.
Figure 4  Interacting with Video in JavaScript
  1. var video = document.createElement('video');
  2. video.src = 'video1.mp4';
  3. video.controls = true;
  4. document.body.appendChild(video);
  5. var video = new Video();
  6. video.src = 'video1.mp4';
  7. var video = new Video('video1.mp4')
  8. <script>
  9.     var video = document.getElementsByTagName('video')[0];
  10. </script>
  11. <input type="button" value="Play" onclick="">
  12. <input type="button" value="Pause" onclick="video.pause()">
For a complete list of events and capabilities for playing video, check out this section of the spec at

Using the Audio Tag

Using the audio tag is much like using the video tag: you pass one or more audio files to the control, and the first one the browser supports is played.
  1. <audio src="audio.ogg" controls>
  2.  Your browser does not support the audio element.
  3. </audio>
Figure 5 lists the properties available in the audio tag. The control doesn’t need to display like a video player, so properties like height, width and poster are not included.
Figure 5 Audio Tag Properties

 AutoplayautoplayIf present, the audio starts playing as soon as it’s ready.
 ControlscontrolsControls, such as a play button, are displayed.
 LooploopIf present, the audio starts playing again (looping) when it reaches the end.
 PreloadpreloadIf present, the audio is loaded at page load, and is ready to run. It’s ignored if autoplay is present.
 SrcurlThe URL of the audio to play.

As with the video tag, you can pass multiple files to the audio tag and the first one that is supported will play. You can also use a fallback message when the browser doesn’t support the audio tag, like this:
  1. <audio controls autoplay>
  2.    <source src="audio1.ogg" type="audio/ogg" />
  3.    <source src="audio1.mp3" type="audio/mpeg" />
  4.     Your browser does not support the audio element.
  5. </audio>


HTML5 is the next standard for the Web, and depending on the browsers you’re targeting, you can start using some of the new tags, such as audio and video, right now. Be cautious when using HTML5, however, because not every browser supports the new tags, and even if one does, it might not support every media format. If you’re using a modern browser that does support HTML5, you still need to do the extra work to process your media in all formats to ensure user success. Here are some great Web resources that provide browser support information as well as all the other information you need to ensure HTML5 media success:

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Flash and Silverlight R.I.P.? The Wonderful World of HTML5

Say it isn’t so!

HTML5 is predicted to kill Flash and Silverlight, as well as destined to help resolve fragmentation in the mobile market! Is this good or bad? The following infographic provides information related to the wonderful world of HTML5.

HTML5 and the Death of Flash and Silverlight