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HTML5 'unhinged from reality,' say Javascripters

Apple, Google and video killed the mark-up star

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Javascripters are trying to rescue HTML5 from video junkies and hypesters, saying the term is being misused - just like AJAX and Web 2.0.

Endorsements by Apple and Google for the as-yet-unfinished HTML5 have turned this next iteration of the web's mark-up spec into the buzzword of the moment, and according to blog post from Javascript specialist Ext JS, it is becoming "unhinged from reality".

People are confusing - deliberately or inadvertently - the core spec with a family of related HTML technologies, especially in graphics and video, Ext JS said.

Products' vice president Michael Mullany wrote Wednesday: "We're starting to see job postings requiring 'HTML5 experience', and people pointing to everything from simple Javascript animations to CSS3 effects as examples of HTML5.

"Just as 'AJAX' and 'Web 2.0' became handy (and widely misused) short-hand for 'next generation' web development in the mid 2000s, HTML5 is now becoming the next overloaded term."

Mullany claimed that a lot of what people think is HTML5 is actually Cascading Style Sheets 3. He called CSS a member of a collection of related HMTL5 technologies that includes Web Workers to run tasks in the background of a browser, Web Storage to store string data in a key-value pair database, and Web Sockets for server communications.

The core of HTML5 is less interesting and actually invisible to the end user. The code includes a new content model, accessibility features, and browsing contexts to make HTML cleaner and human readable. "In many cases, it allows what is currently done with styling, Javascript, or server workarounds to be done in HTML," he wrote.

Ext JS has its own agenda: the company builds and supports a Javascript client-side framework used by Adobe, Amazon, IBM, and others. Mullany also promised Ext JS is planning its own "really useful HTML5 technology web app development" that it will doubtless try to position as something for serious, hype-free development.

That said, Mullany and Ext JS have a point. As HTML5 inches painfully towards completion, the actions of Microsoft, Apple, Adobe and Google have skewed the debate so that video in particular has come to dominate the focus on HTML5.

HTML5 includes a <video> element that lets devs put video directly into webpages without additional plug-ins, leaving many to conclude they can finally build and deliver video online without relying on a single company's tools or player because HTML is an independent industry standard and can be played in standards-compliant browsers.

Browsers Firefox and Opera use the open source Ogg Theora codec for HTML5 video.

Apple's chief executive Steve Jobs appeared to endorse HTML5 as the future of video when he recently slammed Adobe Software's closed and proprietary Flash Player, saying it's not needed on the iPad because "the world's moving to HTML5".

But Apple along with Microsoft and Adobe have dashed the hopes of the HTML-5-video set, choosing to play video using the patent-backed H.264 codec - part controlled by Microsoft and Apple - inside their proprietary players.

Jobs upped the heat further by threatening open source players such as Theora with unspecified action, claiming that they're infringing on the patents that back H.264.

Meanwhile, Google has offered free-web-HTML-5-video fans a new hope by open sourcing its WebM video codec. ®

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