October 26, 2011


   My regular readers no doubt know that I am a computer enthusiast but that I am not a programmer. I can help you buy a computer. I can help you set it up. But if you want me to create a custom program you will be lucky if you can get a "Hello World!" from me even in Python (another story).
   However, I would like to take a minute to talk about some new internet technology that is code related. As the title suggests I'm talking about HTML 5. What's so special about it? Let's take a look.
   First of all let me explain the little bit about internet technology for beginners. When you view a web page what you are really seeing is an interpretation of codes. Layers of codes really. I don't mean code in the programming sense, although that is driving everything. What I mean is that you are seeing a bunch of rules on display.
   Over the last couple of decades there have been rules created and recreated over and over that govern the way the internet is displayed in your browser. The reason for this is so the browsers can display the page you look at correctly. Years ago this was not really an issue but there were people that had the foresight to see a problem on the horizon. Today you might notice the problem.
   About 2 years ago I started to notice that a lot of newer pages would work better in one browser than they did in another. The reason for this is that the various browsers out there have come up with different ways to interpret these rules.
   Somewhere along the lines a product or two were created to fix these issues. Adobe had Flash. Java was created or implemented. There are a couple other systems out there that exist that are less well known but you probably use them every day. The idea behind these systems is that they work anywhere. Flash is perhaps the most well known now because so many games are built around Flash. A lot of fancy web sites are built around flash or incorporate flash to make things more showy.
   So a couple of years ago this problem is heightened by what people call the "Browser Wars." You may have noticed that 10 years ago almost everyone used Internet Explorer or IE. Then came a few others like FireFox and Opera. More recently has come Google's Chrome. Now most people I work with use Chrome.
   So the reason these browsers exist at all is because of some really simple ideas. Older Browsers were becoming cumbersome when it came to speed. Some of that speed is lost in the ability of the browser to interpret these rules. Over the last 2 years all the companies making browsers have been pressing hard to find ways to run these pages faster. New interpretation engines have been built. New code interpreters have been built. All with the idea of making things work better and faster. Chrome and Internet Explorer in their latest versions are the front line of the speed race.
   Now back to HTML 5. This new set of rules and language is designed for something more than just speed. HTML 5 includes a lot of new features that embed things like animation and video directly into the page. Previously for this stuff to be done you needed Flash. Flash is an add on to any browser. This means that it doesn't just work it needs to be added on.
   So essentially HTML 5 is all about user experience. It's a new set of rules that modern browsers need to follow so that people can design web sites that are more interactive and interesting than anything that has come before.
   What do you need to experience it? This one is simple. You need a modern browser. You need Internet Explorer 9 or Chrome (version doesn't matter since it updates itself automatically) or the latest version of Opera or FireFox. My recommendation is either IE 9 or Chrome. The reason is that these two have the highest speed scores in almost all areas as of this posting. I personally use Chrome for nearly all of my Browsing needs now.
   If you have a new browser and want to test it now go try the new Pandora.com or YouTube.com. You can also play around with http://ie.microsoft.com/testdrive/Default.html where Microsoft has created a bunch of simple pages that will test speed and let you goof around with some HTML 5 toys. I enjoyed shooting Mr. Potato Head out of a Cannon.