Getting Ready With HTML5

Stephen Yagielowicz

For adult webmasters, staying current with the Internet’s core technologies is a vital business concern — with questions being raised over the timeliness and suitability of deployment and the most advantageous uses of any new infrastructural assets. Such is the case with the highly anticipated shift towards adult website development using HTML5 — the latest in a line of official HyperText Markup Language coding specifications.

While the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has yet to ratify the fast-emerging HTML5 standard, forward-looking webmasters are already incorporating elements of this advanced code set — despite limited platform compatibility and the very real possibility of a developmental dead end if these “unofficial” coding techniques are not supported in future browser releases.

Since HTML5 is inevitably creeping closer to adoption, now may be a good time to begin getting up-to-speed on the changes and opportunities heading our way.

Since HTML5 is inevitably creeping closer to adoption, now may be a good time to begin getting up-to-speed on the changes and opportunities heading our way, and to begin laying the groundwork for an eventual migration of our websites over to this latest means of defining online content presentation. Here then is a closer look at some of the practical things that adult webmasters can do today to ease their transition to HTML5 tomorrow:

Among the factors driving the creation of HTML5 is the move to the semantic web — which essentially means calling things what they are, rather than using more arcane references as has been typical in computing history — where not too long ago, filenames were limited to eight characters in length, with no spaces in between. Yesterday’s cryptic “mysfnmey.txt” has become today’s “Mystery File Name Made Easy.txt” — with similar semantic evolutions planned for HTML5, so you can “design the way you think.”

For example, new tags introduced in HTML5 allow for descriptive content naming conventions, such as article, summary, footer and nav, in lieu of generic div and span tags. Working with current HTML 4.01 or XHTML 1.x implementations, webmasters can ensure that page templates and their style sheets make use of descriptive elemental names — such as “header,” “footer” and “nav,” etc. Apply these naming conventions to div IDs and descriptions as well as to “included” filenames and other references, for a uniform approach that focuses on content characterization rather than on minimal byte usage.

This will ease future code transitions while making code reading easier today. This of course is very different from the old-school approach of using “img” as the name of your site’s “images” folder — simply in order to cut the number of characters used in half. While pages may load imperceptibly slower when laden with descriptive code and references, the search engine benefits from creative characterizations should more than make up for any performance drop.

As a side note, WordPress users have a nice jump-start on the semantic conversion process, due to the semanticfriendly layout of its architecture and default template sets.

A rich-media experience.HTML5 also strives to integrate much of the multimedia functionality currently off-loaded to third party (and often proprietary) applications, such as Adobe’s Flash, Microsoft’s Silverlight and Sun’s Java, among others — the common use of which will undoubtedly decline as HTML5 reaches critical mass and support for its audio and video tags and other multimedia extensions becomes more widespread.

A secondary source element within the audio or video tag allows webmasters to specify preferred playback codecs in a compatibility cascade that allows the browser to automatically go down the list until it finds a specific, available codec — a key to optimal playback performance.

Interestingly, much of the early publicity surrounding HTML5 and its video tag stemmed from the hope that it would bring OpenSource video to the forefront and break the type of patent strangleholds that, for example, keep Adobe’s Flash off of Apple’s iPhone. However, these initiatives are faltering, since some major stakeholders seem unwilling to support the adoption of OpenSource video codecs such as Ogg Theora at the expense of their own intellectual property licensing rights. The OpenSource requirement was recently dropped from the new standard’s proposed specifications, but Google may save the day, however, with the newly OpenSource-licensed VP8 codec for HTML5 video, which provides competition for H.264 and other formats and which could soon be making waves in adult.

The new Canvas element holds a lot of promise for designers, using JavaScript and other scripting languages to draw a myriad range of images, including charts, graphs and slideshows, within a predefined page area. Styled using CSS, Canvas offers a fallback provision similar to the soon-to-be deprecated noframes tag. The use of the Canvas element enables animated backgrounds, interactive content displays, dynamic image compositing and much more — so you can be certain that this innovative technology will soon become quite commonplace on the adult Internet.

Originally developed by Apple, several licensing and royalty issues over Canvas were reportedly resolved in order to pave the way for its inclusion into the HTML5 standard. Currently unsupported by Internet Explorer, Canvas brings its native vector graphics and robust display capabilities to users of the latest versions of the Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Safari web browsers, appearing across a range of innovative websites.

Changes for adult webmasters.HTML5’s abandonment of long-time coding crutches such as the center and font tags will cause a revisiting of the elements that these tags have been applied to, although b and i somehow remain valid. Despite this, the trend is clearly towards styling exclusively through CSS.

One of the most dramatic impacts to the status quo may come with the cessation of support for framesets. Although robust backwards-compatibility allows HTML5 to gracefully degrade on deprecated technologies, this mainstay of web design will end.

The iframe, or inline frame, which enables a significant amount of today’s adult affiliate advertising, will enjoy continued support however, expanded with the addition of three new attributes, including “sandbox,” which will allow for the sandboxing of blog comments, for example.

Returning from deprecation is one welcome throwback — the “target” attribute of the anchor a tag — returned in part due to its usefulness at addressing the retained iframe.

Designers will be out of luck however if they specify the width, height, alignment and a variety of other formatting parameters for a wide range of elements — and that includes losing the ability to add the background attribute to a page’s body tag. Since CSS handles display attributes better, presentational attributes are dropping from the HTML5 specification — so if you are not using CSS to control your site’s layout and appearance, now is (well past) the time to start.

While according to HTML5 specification editor Ian Hickson the standard may not be fully ratified until as late as 2022, certain elements of the underlying code are now stable and being supported today (although unofficially) in a number of popular web browsers.

“The HTML5 specification will not be considered finished before there are at least two complete implementations of the specification,” Opera Software’s Anne van Kesteren wrote in the HTML5 Working Draft. “This is a different approach than previous versions of HTML had. The goal is to ensure that the specification is implementable and usable by designers and developers once it is finished.”

Although the final HTML5 specifications may really be as much a product of patent attorneys as it is of Internet technologists, it is clear that this sanctioned method of coding is the wave of the future and something for adult webmasters to learn more about today.