Some say 2011 was the year of the big breakthrough for HTML5.
From a promise to something real. A technology supported by a growing number of developers. The only true device agnostic alternative.
Well, if 2011 was the year of the big leap forward, seems like 2012 was the year of the disillusionment.
HTML5 became one of the biggest topics for debates, being mostly smacked down by many experts.
- “Is it better than native?”
- “Is it ready for prime time?”
- “Did you hear what Mark Zuckerberg said about HTML5?”
Gartner recently stated that HTML5 is still 5 to 10 years from becoming a suitable basis for businesses.
I think they are wrong.
I am certain it will happen much faster. For many businesses it is already happening right now.
Many people have mistakenly defined HTML5 as an equivalent alternative for native development. It cannot be, just like a web based email client such as Gmail cannot compete with a native rich client such as Outlook.
And yet, organizations are successfully using web-based tools for doing business, isn’t it?
Windows is undisputedly dominant in the enterprise, and yet most software vendors build web-based products and stay away from native technologies, aren’t they?
Web tools are part of any IT strategy and only 10 years ago experts claimed that web applications will never be able to replace native products (I remember I used to protect native technologies such as MFC and .Net against those wild, disordered web developers who used plain text editors with no compilers… they’ve won. I lost. I’m now part of their team).
The same will happen in mobility, and it will be thanks to HTML5 and other mobile-web technologies.
So 2012 seems like the year of disillusionment for many HTML5 developers, but it’s not because it’s a bad technology. It’s because it’s so good it managed to dazzle all of us.
Think about it for a second: a new technology which is not even close to being standardized, already responsible for the death of a few other successful technologies, already supported by all the leading platforms, being used by a huge number of organizations, products, platforms, and more.
That was the peak of inflated expectations, and from there it could only go down.
So during 2012 people and organizations have learned that in some cases (or better say: some Android devices) the user experience provided by HTML5 is not yet perfect. Developers have learned that in some areas there are still functional gaps. The world has learned that HTML5 will never be a good fit for developing games. It learned that HTML5 does have limitations.
It changes nothing, because what the business world has also learned is that HTML5 brings a perfect answer to many of its’ needs: it’s easy to deploy, flexible and configurable beyond any imagination, truly device agnostic, beyond just mobile devices, and most of all: can support the majority of the business needs fairly easily (and also interact with complementary technologies to close some remaining gaps if exist).
My personal experience with HTML5:
I’ve been involved with mobile development for the past 8 years. Java, Embedded C++, .Net, WAP, Objective C, Windows Mobile, CE, resistive screens, styluses, you name it.
We started using HTML5 back in 2009, when it was fairly new and not as popular as it is today.
Back then, we were asked to build a native BlackBerry client for a few of our clients. Java for BlackBerry was the obvious way, but we felt it would be a matter of time before iOS and Android will become popular among our enterprise customers. We wanted to develop once and still support those new platforms. We made a bet on HTML5.
Today, old BlackBerry is dead, and BlackBerry 10 is just around the corner. It will have a solid support for HTML5, just like iOS and Android have. We made the right decision.
So back to 2012: while people were debating whether HTML5 can compete with native or not, we at ClickSoftware, spent our time deploying our mobile solutions among many of our large enterprise customers all over the world.
Thousands of mobile employees are using our HTML5-based products today. They love it. They run it everywhere, on multiple devices from smartphones to tablets, including laptops and desktops. Some are using our products as pure web-based apps, while others have selected to embed it inside native containers. Functionality wise it gives them exactly what they need, with the ease of web-deployment, brilliant configurability and extremely high flexibility. Using Responsive design, our solutions not only run everywhere, they are adapting to the device type, screen size, peripheral devices and network availability.
2013 is right around the corner, and I’m sure we will see more products designed to run everywhere using HTML5.
Few years ago I predicted that by 2013, HTML5 will rule enterprise mobility. In some aspect this prediction has already materialized. In other aspects it will take longer, as companies are still learning the pros and cons of the mobile web, and with time will learn how and where to make a better use of it.