Technology: The growth of HTML5 isn’t necessarily a bad thing for native apps

This week we’re going to discuss a technical aspect which forms a small part of what we do here at YUDU. An often unsung area where Apple has made real headway against Google in recent years, namely: HTML5.

While it may come as a surprise to some, Apple have been progressively supporting more and more of the W3C’s (Worldwide Web Consortium) revisions with each iOS and Safari iteration. In terms of apps, this position of leadership in the HTML5 space is potentially confusing to many, since Apple, as many probably remember have been cheerleading native app development for some time.

What’s often discounted however is that HTML5 development can help support native app development. After all, the term “HTML5” as a whole simply describes updates or revisions to existing HTML standards – most crucially, those that make supplementing mark-up with JavaScript more powerful.

Such examples include the ability to draw geometry on the fly, on-page with the <canvas> tag, or more excitingly, the ability to use WebGL to render 3d graphics within a browser. It’s important to understand that, prior to a lot of these revisions, doing anything involving significant rendering within a browser was often chaotic, requiring the use of various kinds of plugins.

So HTML5’s relationship with native apps is not necessarily adversarial: Partly because browsers needed a more standardized approach to web design and development in general (something that benefits everyone), but more importantly from our perspective because HTML5 can work effectively within app environments as well. In fact, the fact many HTML5 assets are easily reproducible means that developers can move them from a browser-based environment to a compatible app-shell environment at will.

As an illustration: Imagine you have a HTML/JS form, complete with all sorts of HTML5 related features like constraint validation, that sits on your website; it’s quite easy and straightforward to move this form to an app environment, without having to make any real revisions to the code (except for maybe some cosmetic CSS mark-up).

This of course is a basic example of a very simple HTML5 asset. iOS 8 adds a lot, lot more to the equation (it is being called Apple’s most bold statement of support for the technology). A good example of the depth of Apple’s support can be gauged by their support for SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics). SVG images have a number of advantages that endear them to web developers over other image formats a developer or web designer could use, namely the fact that the graphic itself can be defined in XML and consequently interacted with through JavaScript on the Document Object Model.

To break it down, iOS 8 supports HTML5 developments that allow HTML elements to be blended with SVG images, creating all sorts of interactive, animated graphics. So iOS 8 developers can create something like an in-browser infographic, with lots of completely interactive separate parts, blending this together with simple HTML. It may not sound like a lot, but it makes the workflow process of good design that much more simple.

Ultimately, iOS 8’s continued support for HTML5 is only a good thing for native app development. It will spur on HTML5 development for mobile devices, both within the browser and within native app shells.

YUDU’s creative team have experience in creating HTML5 assets for native applications. If you’d like to learn more about our creative team’s work, you can click here or email us for more information about our services.

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