More than two decades after HTML was introduced, we’re still asking questions about what the web is, and what it might become. What kinds of features and applications would we, as users, find fun, useful or even indispensable? What tools do developers need in order to create these great sites and apps? And finally, how can all this goodness be delivered inside a web browser?
These questions led to the evolution of the latest version of HTML known as HTML5, a set of capabilities that gives web designers and developers the ability to create the next generation of great online applications. Take the HTML5 <video> tag, for example. Video wasn’t a major (or, really, any) part of the early web; instead, internet users installed additional software called plug-ins, in order to watch videos inside their web browsers. Soon it became apparent that easy access to video was a much-wanted feature on the web. The introduction of the <video> tag in HTML5 allows videos to be easily embedded and played in web pages without additional software.
Other cool HTML5 features include offline capabilities that let users interact with web apps even when they don’t have an internet connection, as well as drag-and-drop capabilities. In Gmail, for instance, easy drag-and-drop allows users to instantly attach a file to an email message by simply dragging the file from the user’s desktop computer into the browser window.
HTML5, like the web itself, is in perpetual evolution, based on users’ needs and developers’ imaginations. As an open standard, HTML5 embodies some of the best aspects of the web: it works everywhere, and on any device with a modern browser. But just as you can only watch HDTV broadcasts on an HD-compatible television, you need to use an up-to-date, HTML5-compatible browser in order to enjoy sites and apps that take advantage of HTML5’s features. Thankfully, as an Internet user, you have lots of choice when it comes to web browsers — and unlike TVs, web browsers can be downloaded for free.