On the potential of HTML5

By now, many of you must have looked at, or at least heard of, the experimental, HTML5 version of YouTube. And if you read the news, you’ll know Steve Jobs now expects HTML5 to replace Adobe Flash altogether as the predominant web video standard. Such a development would conveniently make the iPhone and iPad’s lack of Flash support a non-issue.

HTML5 video isn’t quite there yet, of course, because browser makers still can’t seem to agree on whether to use Ogg Theora or H.264 video codecs. But HTML5 is much, much more than just another way to embed videos in a web page. I’ve been looking at some example applets that showcase HTML5’s other capabilities over the past few days, and I can’t help but be impressed. Let me show you.

One of the first examples I came across was Gil Megidish’s partial HTML5 and JavaScript port of Another World, a cult adventure platformer from 1991:

Playing is as simple as pressing the right keys in the browser window. The port bears a striking resemblance to the original, too; just compare it to this YouTube video of the full game. As Megidish acknowledges, however, this isn’t a perfect port—more like a proof of concept.

Old-fashioned 2D games aren’t the extent of what developers can put together. Next up: Jacob Seidelin’s port of Wolfenstein 3D, a much more elaborate application with pseudo-3D graphics, music, and sound:

The game seems to capture mouse input, but you can play simply by hitting with the arrow keys to move, X to open doors, and C to shoot. Here, too, we can see some occasional graphical glitches, but the port works surprisingly well and uses little CPU power, to boot.

Finally, here’s HTML5 and JavaScript put to use in a graphical image editor with draggable palettes, multiple undo levels, customizable brushes, and all that good stuff—Michael Deal’s Sketchpad:

You can check out some more examples over at Chrome Experiments. Some of the applets there are pure JavaScript, but many use new HTML5 capabilities like the canvas element. To use anything with HTML5, you’ll need the latest version of Firefox, Chrome, Safari, or Opera. Internet Explorer doesn’t support any of this functionality right now.

Lack of support in IE could be a pretty big roadblock toward broader adoption of HTML5 features, of course. But considering Microsoft’s new-found embrace of web standards with IE8, I wouldn’t be too surprised to see the company hop on the bandwagon sooner or later. After that, it’ll be up to developers to decide whether they want to write their web-based apps, games, and video players using open standards or Adobe’s proprietary tools. I think the mere presence of a choice can only mean good things for the web.

Comments closed
    • tygrus
    • 10 years ago

    The Video codec should be adaptable to multiple current and future standards. Why be so restrictive, why not future proof the design ?

    One problem of web standards being so varied is client software not implementing or features or incorrect implementations. Maybe with HTML5 they will try to enforce a feature set that all must meet so content will work for everyone (and everywhere).

    • joselillo_25
    • 10 years ago

    I can open FEW video tabs using HTML5 than Flash. This is not good.

    Yesterday I also use the wmv plug in to watch a video in a webpage that still use this technology. Fast, high quality, easy and with very low CPU charge. Still do not understand how flash got this market.

      • jstern
      • 10 years ago

      I too also saw a flash type video that was wmv, on what I believe was a Microsoft website. Not only did it drew less power, but I can also tag them, if I chose to download them. I have a so many videos downloaded from youtube, and if only I was able to tag them, it would make things much easier.

    • Pax-UX
    • 10 years ago

    I’m looking forward to the death of Flash, I’ve got it disabled on my main browser and YouTube is the only site I use it for. It was useful when web standards were crap, lacked AJAX and HTML was all about the fire gif. Flash acted as a back-door allow for a prettier interactive web space.

    But things have moved on, I give Flash 2 years. If you look at some of the JavaScript libs out there, they’re very impressive and if I was going to spend time on a website again it would be pure HTML/JS.

    • clone
    • 10 years ago

    Adobe owns…… OWNS the market…… the only way HTML 5 will go anywhere is if Adobe sits back and does nothing forever.

    competition usually spawns a reaction…. if Adobe isn’t looking they’ll be clumsy and fail but all issues with this segment are fixable and workable.

    Adobe OWNS the market and will innovate, I’m glad someone has forced it and personally while not an Apple hater (I’ve been thinking of buying an Apple laptop) it’d be nice to see them fail at something just to keep them on top of their game.

    Ipad is junk.

      • eitje
      • 10 years ago

      q[

    • stmok
    • 10 years ago

    From Ars Technica…

    *[http://arstechnica.com/open-source/news/2010/02/nuanti-brings-html5-and-ogg-theora-video-to-silverlight.ars<]§

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 10 years ago

    And yet, despite even IE8’s lack of HTML5 support, all sorts of online databases and “cloud computing” applications that corporations use still work in IE6…which means it’s not going anywhere and we’ll still be living in the dark ages for a while yet.

      • mesyn191
      • 10 years ago

      Support for IE6 is slowly being killed, if this keeps up in another few years IE6 may be totally dead.

      Hopefully (though probably not) companies/software writers will have learned their lesson from all that and not write software that is so dependent on a single browser anymore.

        • firerules16
        • 10 years ago

        My company still uses IE6 and does not allow any other browsers to be installed on our PCs. It makes me cringe still have to use that piece of crap.

          • PeterD
          • 10 years ago

          All that talk about “IE6 is crap” starts to sound like car tuner fans who compare sets of tyres, and fin one of them is crap because it obliges you to drive an tinny-bitsy-bit slower in the corners.

            • carburngood
            • 10 years ago

            Seriously do you really believe that? Using IE6 even versus using IE7 (let alone every other, better alternative) is the difference between having tires and driving on the rims.

    • kvndoom
    • 10 years ago

    My 16-bit memory is a bit cloudy… but wasn’t that adventure game called /[

      • bdwilcox
      • 10 years ago

      Flashback was the “unofficial” sequel to Another World. Both were by the now defunct Delphine software.

    • potatochobit
    • 10 years ago

    I want gamepad recognition

    that is all

    • Game_boy
    • 10 years ago
      • djgandy
      • 10 years ago

      So basically google is going to push the h264 route as chrome supports it while Firefox sticks to its principals and slowly loses share as everything on the web uses h264. Or at least this is how Google hopes it plays out.

      Maybe Firefox should just deal with the licensing rather than jeopardize their browser? It goes against their principals, but that’s life. Sometimes you just gotta suck it up and do what is necessary.

        • Game_boy
        • 10 years ago

        They can’t, since even the $5M license fee wouldn’t cover non-official compilations. So you couldn’t get h.264 if you built it youself, or Ubuntu couldn’t get it since they maintain their branch separately. It would be unworkable and lose the point of Firefox being free software.

        Google’s Chromium (I don’t mean Chrome) doesn’t have h.264 either.

    • jstern
    • 10 years ago

    If Apple truly doesn’t want flash because it will cut into their bottom line, then I don’t think they’re as excited as they claim to be about HTML5. I assume that they use their whole HTML5 talk as an excuse to put down flash, knowing full well that HTML5 won’t be taking over soon. Steve is pretty smart because he understands his customers. Make flash this evil thing that must not exist on the Iphone, Ipad and his Apple fanboys immediately go along with it, passionately defending Apple’s decision. He creates an us against them attitude, which makes his loyal customers accept Apple’s reasons for not having flash. Just an oppinion, I don’t know what’s really in Steve’s head.

      • neon
      • 10 years ago

      all of the charisma would just go to waste if an “us vs. them” paradigm is not created. 😉

      • Kulith
      • 10 years ago

      I think Apple just likes creating enemies.

    • wira020
    • 10 years ago

    It works surprisingly well.. and no codec or plug in is totally a plus..

    I’ve been leaning towards flash but now it doesnt matter which one became standard.. since i use windows i dont really have problen with flash..

    • UberGerbil
    • 10 years ago

    There’s also an in-browser NES emulator out there that does its thing via HTML5.

    • PRIME1
    • 10 years ago

    The sad reality is that it will take years (if ever ) for HTML5 to fully replace flash.

    By then the Pad will be on it’s 3rd or 4th gen. I’m not a big fan of Flash either, but I’m not a big fan of having the decision to use it or not being decided by Apple or any other company.

    • Sargent Duck
    • 10 years ago

    You forgot the “dang-nabbit” Dang Nabbit!

    • Arag0n
    • 10 years ago

    Opera also supports HTML5….

      • Helmore
      • 10 years ago

      What’s an Opera? Is it edible?

      *just kidding*

      • Manabu
      • 10 years ago

      Poor Opera.. now even Chrome and Safari are more known…

        • Arag0n
        • 10 years ago

        Popularity isn’t commonly a goodness reflect…

    • MadManOriginal
    • 10 years ago

    Neato. So if all goes well and the details of Theora vs h.264 get worked out, or more likely browser makers decide to support both, then the ‘Flash lockout’ on Apple devices won’t mean much – we’ll be able to use a web browser to do the things Flash does right now. That is unless his Jobness decides to stifle competition for the iTunes store.

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