May 4, 2010 2
HTML5 is receiving a lot of attention.
According to the gospel according to wikipedia, “HTML5 is being developed as the next major revision of HTML“, and “HTML5 is the proposed next standard for HTML 4.01, XHTML 1.0 and DOM Level 2 HTML“. For the layman among us, it aims to “reduce the need for proprietary plug-in-based rich internet application (RIA) technologies such as Adobe Flash, Microsoft Silverlight, and Sun JavaFX”.
But what does HTML5 offer specifically in the context of eCommerce development? To find out I canvassed some members of our Front End Team to see what they had to say on the subject.
TONY: “Due to the nature of user agent development, we may never be able to exploit all the features of HTML5/CSS3 in the near future, but its introduction is a welcome breath of fresh air. HTML5 can allow sites to be enhanced with non-propriety video and video controls. It also has the ability to access a client side database for larger and faster data storage, along with Web Workers that are used to allocate separate threads for process intensive work. The ability to build complex and fast applications in browsers (and other user agents) becomes a possibility. HTML5 addresses accessibility through use of the ARIA attributes, and it allows for a neater solution for generating complex and changeable layouts through the use of CSS3, columns and styling with rounded corners or gradients. Then of course there is Canvas, font support, native slider controls. These are just a few of the features that will influence eCommerce development.”
STEVE: “Video commerce platform provider Liveclicker has released the industry’s first HTML5 player supporting interactive video commerce. The player is already live on Onlineshoes.tv for Chrome, Safari, and iPhone users. Some of the key HTML features these guys have been playing with are:
- Interactive text overlays in-video (which is supported)
- Integrated back-end reporting including conversion tracking and optimisation tools
- Product data feeds (from retailers for example) which allows in-video merchandising of products, descriptions, pricing
- Sharing of video / ‘Related’ video functionality
- Fallback to Flash for non-supporting browsers”
DANYAL: “With HTML 5 comes a standard way to embed a font into a website. Developers have long struggled to find a way to provide exotic typeface to browsers, resorting to techniques such as image replacement and, less commonly, methods which depend on Flash, such as sIFR. Each of those techniques has its own side effects, ranging from semantic damage to the page, to an increased dependence on third-party technologies. HTML 5 will make it trivial for eCommerce companies to maintain brand fidelity by using the same fonts that are used in other contexts.”
LAWRENCE: “One of the biggest and best new features in HTML5 is the way that it handles video. For years now Adobe have had the thick end of the market share when it comes to online videos and ‘monitor motion’ capabilities. Their product ‘Flash’ has left a lasting impression on most of us, often for different reasons and is supported by most browsers, although it is a serious resource hog and uses lots of CPU time and battery power.
Flash is not supported on the iPhone or the iPad, which considering the popularity of these two products could be a problem if you are developing towards them. HTML5 is what Apple are relying on to bridge the Flash gap. In a recent article in The Economist, Apple are quoted as saying: “The attraction of HTML5 is that it is designed to handle audio and video internally, without the need for browser plug-ins such as Adobe’s Flash.””
ANTHONY: “Geolocation, while initially intimidating in a “Big Brother” sort of way, is an interesting prospect for eCommerce on mobile devices. Just imagine being told that the product you are looking for is in stock at a nearby store before pressing the “Add to Basket” button and without entering your postcode! A great way to get people into your stores and seeing what else you have to offer.”
RACHEL: “The application of the new features in HTML5 in an eCommerce environment could be limited due to the nature of standards support across browsers and the reliance and knowledge of Flash and Silverlight to achieve the same things. The main features of Video support, improved Drag and drop and offline storage could however make for a more immersive user experience. Video reviews would be dependent on the internet provision of users, but with encoding getting better these could become commonplace in the eCommerce market. Drag and drop along with HTML5 Canvas may be able to match Flash for basket functionality and Offline storage (replacing cookies) of previous purchases, un-purchased baskets or favourite items would speed up not only the experience for the user but reduce the database calls on a server.”