3 and 4 in a series on HTML5 for the enterprise

Continuing the story on HTML5 and why it’s ‘good enough’ for enterprise, here are two more commonly heard assumptions regarding building a web app using HTML5.

The current HTML5 ecosystem is by no means perfect, but it is very good for some things. The current draw backs in user experience and browser and device ubiquity probably just don’t matter for Enterprises, who are for the most part IT driven and uncomfortable thinking about visual design and User Experience as part of a system design.

3 – HTML5 development is cheap – ’cause it’s the web, right ?

There’s no doubt that the design and development skills needed to build HTML (and the absolutely necessary Javascript and CSS) are readily available, and the development tools are mature and sophisticated. However, my own experience has been that :

  • Because HTML5 is an evolution from HTML4 and other associated technologies, it is fairly easy for any web designer or developer to claim some HTML5 skills.  While HTML5 is not a hugh leap from HTML4 or XHTML, it does have nuances and a very heavy reliance on CSS3 and Javascript.
  • CSS3 skills can be in something of a no-mans-land between visual design and development. A good all rounder web generalist is more likely to be comfortable with CSS3 than a dedicated designer or dev.
  • Javascript is becoming more and more arcane as a plethora of frameworks and add-on libraries and languages sprout up, in an attempt to rationalise and simplify the use of the language which is now expected to be enterprise-grade. In fact these are having the effect of making the development ecosystem more and more complex.

Add to this that few people are really familiar with Responsive Design (so it has to be learnt), + time overheads to cater for the vagaries of each browser and device, and suddenly things are not looking quite so cheap and straightforward.

4 – Developers will desert native apps in favour of HTML5 (because it’s cool)

Development using native technologies for iOS and Android have become a huge success story for Apple and Google and also for the developers who actually build the applications that fill iTunes and Google Play. While Apple and Google take 30% of the sale of any application (for providing a consumer billing platform and app store as a distribution point to the market), the remaining 70% goes into the pocket of the developer. Build a successful app and you could be rich.

The fact that there is money to be made from native apps development is something that the HTML5 lobby continually ignore – vaguely hoping that because HTML5 is a new, cool, thing developers will realise its the future and just slowly move across to it as demand from consumers increases.

Unfortunately, there are some things that will need to be in place before there is an easy way for a developer to charge for their work and an easy way to be found by potential customers. Some native devs are indeed now saying that it is getting difficult to be found in the iTunes app store and Google Play due to overcrowding – but where would they rather be ? Out on the web trying to drive traffic to their web-app with SEO and charging customers via Paypal … ? I’m not so sure.

More to come soon.


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