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HTML5 and CSS3 - how long must we wait?

January 17, 2011

It seems that most things these days can be done via your friendly web browser from devices of many shapes and forms. For the most part, viewing websites should be a breeze after the hours of input from the designers and web developers. But, it is no longer enough to just slap up a 2 dimensional website and display the bare basics of your client's information. Nearly everyone these days wants the 'Web 2.0' experience, and if they don't know about it, then those in sales are quick to tell them about it - making a simple website design into one that makes the teeth grind.

It should be fine - and a great joy - to create these 'Web 2.0' websites right? I mean, who doesn't love things sliding around your page, smooth image transitions, video, and a full interactive user experience? Unfortunately, if you've been developing any sort of website, you'll be quick to find that the simple is not so simple. By keeping to XHTML standards, it is possible to get all those browsers out there to agree on a similar output, but when we try and add the 'Web 2.0' factor things very quickly go haywire! There are some supporting JavaScript tools, e.g. jQuery, that helps cut down on all the hard work for you, but this is still just a band-aid approach to help the transition from old technologies to new concepts. As wonderful as jQuery is, and I absolutely love using it, I have a greater desire to start using HTML5 and CSS3 techniques. For some reason though each time I get inspired to use the new technologies I stop myself by remembering that not everyone is on the latest and greatest computer with all the latest updates to their browsers – meaning that HTML5 and CSS3 is just not going to work. Just try and explain to your client that out of 1000 people who view your site, a potential 300 of them may have issues viewing things they way you intended. So how long must we wait?

If we face the facts, and every programmer loves facts, at least 27% of internet users (as of December 2010) are on Internet Explorer (source: http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_stats.asp) which is completely incompatible with the new technologies. The majority of the other browsers are all currently (today) compatible with most of the features we all want to use in HTML5 and CSS3. On the plus side, Internet Explorer 9 is almost out which will solve the compatibility issue and I'm confident that Microsoft will push that out ASAP to all its faithful users. This does raise another side issue that Internet Explorer 9 won't work on Windows XP machines – which is currently almost 50% of the world (source: http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_os.asp). Windows 7 is becoming increasing popular and so eventually this won't be too much of an issue, but for now – how long must we wait?

I've heard people say it will be another 10 years before you can safely do away with all your Internet Explorer conditional tags, but in the meantime we just have to carry on, as we always have, and make exceptions for all browsers to gain the result our clients are after. In my opinion, once Internet Explorer 9 is out, we should be ok to start creating HTML5 and CSS3 interfaces for restricted areas of websites e.g. local Intranet, Content Management Systems, or anywhere else that you can control and dictate who will have access to it. It is a marvellous technology that should be embraced and we all need to jump on board sooner or later to push things along – and that's exactly what I intend to do this year.

Useful resources:

http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_stats.asp
http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_os.asp
http://diveintohtml5.info/
http://www.css3.info/
http://jquery.com/

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Filed under Design & Development

Written by

Nigel commenced with Apex in 2004 shortly after graduating from WITT with a Bachelor of Applied Information Systems. Nigel specialises in web application development and has been instrumental in the development of Orbit our Content Management System. As Senior Developer and Manager, Nigel has overall responsibility for our internal systems and management of our Web Development team. As well as being...

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