There have been several stories in the press over the last week or so about how various companies have been switching to HTML5, or hybrid apps based around HTML5, where a native wrapper is used to turn the HTML5 into a standalone app.
For advice on creating HTML5 apps, or converting your apps to HTML5, visit the Intel Developer Zone HTML5 area.
I’ve identified three main reasons companies appear to be switching to HTML5, the three ‘F’s:
• Freedom: Here I mean free as in speech, rather than free as in beer. If you create a web app using HTML5, you can be free of any of the restrictions imposed by app stores.
Of course, app stores provide a fantastic environment for discovering and downloading apps, and a proven mechanism for monetising them, but using HTML5 as your base code means that you can always host your app online as a fallback position if your app isn’t accepted into a store for any reason. HTML5 is independent of any single company, so there will always be options for distributing it.
• Future-proofing: Netflix has announced that it is planning to switch from Silverlight to HTML5 for its video player because Microsoft has announced the end of life of Silverlight 5 in 2021. That might seem a long way off, but if you’re heavily invested in a platform, you want it to be one with a future.
HTML5 is clearly the technology that is attracting the most investment and attention from across the industry, and so has the most secure future. Netflix notes that there are still some gaps to fill, including browser support for the Web Cryptography API which is important for its digital rights management, but Netflix’s switch demonstrates its faith that these gaps will be filled.
Creatives are often advised to avoid following the crowd, but when it comes to choice of platform, the more people who are using it, and developing it, and creating tools for it, the more secure its future.
• Flexibility: Given that the market is heavily fragmented across different devices, form factors and operating systems, it makes sense to start with a strategy that gives you the maximum flexibility in porting applications. HTML5 runs on almost any modern platform, and certainly runs on the most popular platforms.
Of course, adjustments will need to be made for different screen sizes and different visual assets might need to be deployed, but having a single underlying code base makes it much easier to port applications across, and means you can focus on actual differences between devices and platforms, and not just rewrite code because you have to for compatibility reasons.
As a platform that is still under development, there are some things that HTML5 isn’t yet ideally suited for, of course, so it’s not the perfect solution for every application. In particular, it’s not as easy to tap into a device’s hardware using HTML5, and LinkedIn has adopted native apps in part to achieve greater fluidity in the interface.
However, if your application could work well using HTML5, making it your first choice will ensure you can benefit from the freedom, future-proofing and flexibility that it brings.
• This blog post is written by Softtalkblog, and is sponsored by the Intel Developer Zone, which helps you to develop, market and sell software and apps for prominent platforms and emerging technologies powered by Intel Architecture.