Top 10 Reasons to Start Using HTML5 Right Now…

So you’re still not using HTML5, huh? I guess you probably have your reasons; it’s not fully adopted yet, it doesn’t work in IE, you don’t like users, you’re out of touch or you are just passionately in love with writing strict XHTML code. HTML5 is the revolution that the web needed and the fact is, it is the future whether you like it or not — suck it up and deal. HTML5 isn’t hard to use or understand and even though it’s not fully adopted yet, there are still plenty of reasons to start using it right now — like right after you get done reading this article.

html5-reasons

There are lots of articles touting the use of HTML5 and praising the benefits of it, yes this is another one of those. With all these articles, with Apple pushing it, with Adobe building new dev products around it, and with so many web sites devoted to it, I still talk to fellow designers and developers who haven’t or won’t adopt it for a variety of reasons. I think the main problem is, it still seems like a mysterious creature to many. To many it feels more like the jet pack or the flying car — an awesome idea that is fun to think about but still not practical in its use. Wrong, the reality is that it is extremely practical right now! It’s not the latest Mercedes concept car being towed around form car show to car show, it’s a reality and it’s not going anywhere.

In order to further demystify HTML5 and help these knuckle dragging designers and developers to jump on the bandwagon I’ve put together a top ten list of reasons why we should all be using HTML5 right now. For those that currently use HTML5 this list may not be anything new or ground breaking, but hopefully it will inspire you to share the benefits of HTML5 with others in the community. We’ll do this Letterman countdown style (minus the celebrity presenter) and start with number ten – accessibility.

10 – ACCESSIBILITY

HTML5 makes creating accessible sites easier for two main reasons: semantics and ARIA. The new (some currently available) HTML headings like <header>, <footer>, <nav>, <section>, <aside>, etc. allow screen readers to easily access content. Before, your screen readers had no way to determine what a given <div> was even if you assigned it an ID or Class. With new semantic tags screen readers can better examine the HTML document and create a better experience for those who use them.

ARIA is a W3C spec that is mainly used to assign specific “roles” to elements in an HTML document – essentially creating important landmarks on the page: header, footer, navigation or article, via role attributes. This has been well overlooked and widely under-used mostly due to the fact that it wasn’t valid, however, HTML5 will validate these attributes. Also, HTML5 will have built in roles that can’t be over-ridden making assigning roles a no brainer. For a more in depth discussion on HTML5 and ARIA please visit the WAI.

9 – VIDEO AND AUDIO SUPPORT

Forget about Flash Player and other third party media players, make your videos and audio truly accessible with the new HTML5 <video> and <audio> tags. Getting your media to play correctly has always been pretty much a nightmare, you had to use the and <object> tags and assign a huge list of parameters just to get the thing visible and working correctly. Your media tags just become these nasty, huge chunks of confusing code segments. HTML5′s video and audio tags basically treat them as images; <video src=”url”/>. But what about all those parameters like height, width and autoplay? No worries my good man, just define those attributes in the tag just like any other HTML element: <video src=”url” width=”640px” height=”380px” autoplay/>.

It’s actually that dead simple, however because old evil browsers out there don’t like our HTML5 friend, you’ll need to add a little bit more code to get them working correctly… but this code isn’t nearly as gnarly and messy as the <object> and tags:

<video poster="myvideo.jpg" controls>
 <source src="myvideo.m4v" type="video/mp4" />
 <source src="myvideo.ogg" type="video/ogg" />
</video>

Some resources worth checking out:

8 – DOCTYPE

doctype html

<!DOCTYPE html>

Yup that’s it, that is the doctype, nothing more, nothing less. Pretty simple right? No more cutting and pasting some long unreadable line of code and no more dirty head tags filled with doctype attributes. You can simply and easily type it out and be happy. The really great thing about it though, beyond the simplicity, is that it works in every browser clear back to the dreaded IE6.

7 – CLEANER CODE

If you are passionate about simple, elegant, easy to read code then HTML5 is the beast for you. HTML5 allows you to write clear and descriptive code, semantic code that allows you to easily separate meaning from style and content. Consider this typical and simple header code with navigation:

<div id="header">
<h1>Header Text</h1>
<div id="nav">
<ul>
<li><a href="#">Link</a></li>
<li><a href="#">Link</a></li>
<li><a href="#">Link</a></li>
</ul>
</div>
</div>

So this code is pretty clean and simple? But with HTML5 you can clean this up even more and at the same time give your markup more meaning:

<header>
 <h1>Header Text</h1>
 <nav>
  <ul>
   <li><a href="#">Link</a></li>
   <li><a href="#">Link</a></li>
   <li><a href="#">Link</a></li>
  </ul>
 </nav>
</header>

With HTML5 you can finally cure your “divitis” and “classitis” by using semantic and HTML headers to describe your content. Previously you would generally just use div’s for every block of content than drop an id or class on it to describe its content but with the new <section>, <article>, <header>, <footer>, <aside> and <nav> tags, HTML5 allows you to code your markup cleaner as well as keep your CSS better organized and happier.

Some resources worth checking out:

6 – SMARTER STORAGE

One of the coolest things about HTML5 is the new local storage feature. It’s a little bit of a cross between regular old cookies and a client-side database. It’s better than cookies because it allows for storage across multiple windows, it has better security and performance and data will persist even after the browser is closed. Because it’s essentially a client side data base you don’t have to worry about the user deleting cookies and it is been adopted by all the popular browsers.

Local storage is great for many things, but it’s one of HTML5 tools that are making web apps possible without third party plugins. Being able to store data in the user’s browser allows you to easily create those app features like: storing user information, the ability to cache data, and the ability to load the user’s previous application state. If you are interested in getting started with local storage, check out Christian Heilmann’s great 24 Ways article from last year —Wrapping Things Nicely with HTML5 Local Storage.

Some more resources worth checking out:

5 – BETTER INTERACTIONS

Awe, we all want better interactions, we all want a more dynamic website that responds to the user and allows the user to enjoy/interact your content instead of just look at it. Enter <canvas>, the drawing HTML5 tag that allows you to do most (if not more) interactive and animated possibilities than the previous rich internet application platforms like Flash.

Beyond <canvas>, HTML5 also comes with a slew of great APIs that allow you to build a better user experience and a beefier, more dynamic web application — here’s a quick list of native APIs:

  • Drag and Drop (DnD)
  • Offline storage database
  • Browser history management
  • document editing
  • Timed media playback

For way more info on these APIs and more native interactive features of HTML5 visit HTML5Doctor.

Some resources worth checking out:

4 – GAME DEVELOPMENT

Yup, that is correct, you can develop games using HTML5′s <canvas> tag. HTML5 provides a great, mobile friendly way to develop fun, interactive games. If you’ve built Flash games before, you’ll love building HTML5 games.

Script-Tutorials has recently offered a four part series of lessons focused on HTML5 game development, head on over and check out some of the sick stuff they have created:

Some more resources worth checking out:

3 – LEGACY/CROSS BROWSER SUPPORT

modern browsers support

Your modern, popular browsers all support HTML5 (Chrome, Firefox, Safari IE9 and Opera) and the HTML5 doctype was created so that all browsers, even the really old and annoying ones, er, IE6 can use it. But just because old browsers recognize the doctype that doesn’t mean they can use all the new HTML5 tags and goodies. Fortunately, HTML5 is being built to make things easier and more cross browser friendly so in those older IE browsers that don’t like the new tags we can just simply add a Javascript shiv that will allow them to use the new elements:

<!--[if lt IE 9]>
<script src="http://html5shiv.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/html5.js"></script>
<![endif]-->

Some resources worth checking out:

2 – MOBILE, MOBILE, MOBILE

Call it a hunch, but I think mobile technology is becoming more popular these days. I know, that is a pretty crazy assumption and some of your are probably thinking — mobile is just a fad… right. Mobile devices are taking over the world. The adoption of mobile devices continues to grow very rapidly and this means that more and more users will be using their mobile browsers to view your web site or application. HTML5 is the most mobile ready tool for developing mobile sites and apps. With Adobe announcing the death of mobile Flash, you will now count on HTML5 to do your mobile web application development.

Mobile browsers have fully adopted HTML5 so creating mobile ready projects is as easy as designing and constructing for their smaller touch screen displays — hence the popularity of Responsive Design. There are some great meta tags that also allow you to optimize for mobile:

  • Viewport: allows you to define viewport widths and zoom settings
  • Full screen browsing: IOS specific values that allow Apple devices to display in full screen mode
  • Home Screen Icons: like favicons on desktop, these icons are used to add favorites to the home screen of an IOS and Android mobile device

For more info on how to mobilize your site via HTML5, check out “Mobifying” Your HTML5 Site.

Some resources worth checking out:

1 – IT’S THE FUTURE, GET WITH IT!

The number one reason why you should start using HTML5 today is this: it’s the future, start using it now so you don’t get left behind. HTML5 is not going anywhere and as more and more elements get adopted more and more companies will start to develop in HTML5. HTML5 is essentially just HTML, it’s not scary, it’s not anything you really need to figure out or relearn — if you’re developing XHTML strict right now you are already developing in HTML5 so why not take full advantage of it’s current capability?

You really don’t have any excuses not to adopt HTML5 and begin your new love affair with it. Truly, the only real reason I prefer to use HTML5 is just to write cleaner code, all the other benefits and fun features I haven’t even really jumped into yet, but that is the great thing about it, you can just start using it right now and not even change the way you design. So, start using it right now, whether you are just simplifying and making your markup more semantic OR you are gonna build some sick new mobile game that will take over the world — who knows, maybe you can start selling stuffed animal versions of your gaming characters too.

GREAT HTML5 RESOURCES

http://html5doctor.com
http://html5rocks.com
http://html5weekly.com
http://www.remysharp.com
http://www.script-tutorials.com

Posted by: Dhiraj kumar

HTML5 canvas awesomeness – games roundup

HTML5 is being developed as the next major revision of HTML, the core markup language of the World Wide Web. Besides new elements like headersectionfooter, etc., the HTML5 brings you the canvas element.

The canvas is a rectangular area within you can use Javascript to draw graphics or other visual images on a web page. Although HTML5 is not a W3C recommendation yet (because of cross browsers issues), people already started to play with it, and when I say play, I mean it.

Today I’ll share with you some awesome HTML5 games demos that show the HTML5 canvas potential.

Agent 008 Ball

8ball

Z-Type

RGB Invaders

Pacman

Spy Chase

Biolab Disaster

Wolfenstein 3D

Fred Jones in Adventureland

Asteroids

Crystal Galaxy

Same Game

Final words

A common misconception is that HTML 5 can provide animation within web pages, which is totallyuntrue. Either JavaScript or CSS3 (or both) is necessary for animating HTML elements.

Posted by: Dhiraj kumar

7 tips to organize your CSS

Working often with CSS for my own website or for my job makes me trying always to be organized and that made me thinking about a thing. What is the best way to organize my CSS file(s)? With this article I will try to present you a short guide about CSS organizing.

tips-to-organize-your-css

1. Group your CSS files into a folder

Beside your main CSS file you may want to use also a print CSS file or why not a CSS file for the IE6/7 browser. Placing them together in a folder named css for example will help you improve your website back-end structure.

group-css-files

2. Use efficient selectors

A very important thing for you to know is how browsers understand and read your CSS selectors? The answer is that they read them from right to left. That means that for the selector ul li a span the first thing thing interpreted is span.

efficient-selectors

The id is the selector with the greater specificity so always, instead div#header you should use just #header. This way your file will be less redundant and smaller. Also note that the use of efficient CSS selectors is a nowadays requirement.

3. Comment and separate your CSS rules

Generally, a CSS file contains reset styles, header, content and footer styles and in order to easier browse your CSS rules you should choose a way to separate them.

comment-css

You can choose an simple and easy to notice separator as in the following example:

  /* Header styles */
  /* ---------------------------------- */
  /* Content styles */
  /* ---------------------------------- */
  /* Footer styles */

4. Create a simple color scheme to use for your styles

When you are dealing for example with a CSS file for an web application you will use a lot common styles and colors.  So placing something as following inside a CSS comment could be very helpful for you:

  /* Colors: Light Gray #eaeaea, Dark Gray #828282, Red #c60000 */

5. Use a meaning naming convention for your selectors.

Let’s suppose you need to name your logo, menu and a tagline that are placed inside a header id wrapper. A good approach in this way would be to use namings as:

  • header-logo or h-logo
  • header-menu or h-menu
  • header-tag or h-tag

css-naming-convention

6. Create your own small CSS framework

By doing that you will be able to use these common CSS classes at any time for any elements from your markup.

.full-width{
  width: 100% !important;
}

.min-width{
  width: 1% !important;
  white-space: nowrap !important;
}

.centered-inline{
  text-align: center !important;
}

.centered-block{
  margin-left: auto !important;
  margin-right: auto !important;
}

7. Simple is better

Don’t try to complicate things because simplicity will save you time, effort and why not your remaining hair 🙂

Posted by: Dhiraj kumar

10 Web Usability tips for your website

At the beginning, perhaps you were developing websites just for fun or you were just learning some new tricks, but now, when you are developing a website or a web application you can’t afford to skip the usability basics rules.

In this article we’ll try to remember some basic, unwritten web usability rules.

usability-tips

1. Place the logo always in the left corner of the viewport

As drivers use to search for green traffic light to start leaving the intersection, users search the logo in the left side of the website to click on it. They are used to click on it to access the home/main page of the website. Also, as usability tests proved, the left corner of a website is the most visible content.

2. Add CSS states (almost) to everything

Nothing is more annoying that hovering a website menu, or a button, link etc without seeing a change. The user is searching for interactivity and if you, as web developer don’t offer him that, you will lose him. Beside hover, for example a button should have also an active state (pressed style). This way the user will fell he’s always under control.

CSS states example

<a href="#" id="button-style">My Button</a>

a#button-style{
  background: #eaeaea;
}

a#button-style:hover{
  background: #9c9c9c;
}

a#button-style:active{
  background: #777777;
}

3. Use label’s “for” attribute

When in a form, and you need to click on a checkbox input or radio input, it will always be easier to be able to check/uncheck the input by toggle-ing also on the label. Using labels for forms is also an accesibility “golden rule”. Getting back to usability rules, a common mistake is to use the label tag without it’s for attribute. Here is a good example for using labels when inner a form:

<input type="radio" name="options" id="id-1">
<label for="id-1">First option </label>

<input type="radio" name="options" id="id-2">
<label for="id-2">Second option </label>

As result,selecting a radio option is easier. Cool huh?

First option
Second option

4. Breadcrumbs

Using breadcrumbs could be compared with GPS navigation, the user will know his current position inside the website, it will help him to no get lost. You want to guide him through your website and you don’t want to have him annoyed by the fact he’s lost – because in this case you risk to loose him, he could exit your website immediately. Get inspired by the well known breadcrumbs patterns around the internet.

5. Highlight form fields

If you are dealing with text inputs and textareas you should use CSS focus state to specify when the user has clicked inside an input or textarea. This way user will know which form element he clicked.

Quick CSS example

input[type=text]{
  border: 1px solid #9c9c9c;
  background: #eaeaea;
}

input[type=text]:focus{
  border: 1px solid #323232;
  background: white;
}

6. Use HTML tags accordingly

Use heading, paragraph, bold elements in the right way, as they should be used. Take advantage of them by using heading to highlighting titles, use paragraphs to add a text section and bold to highlight words in the text section. Make your text easier to read by creating a text flow, this way the user will easier scan titles and sections.

Also keep in mind to use headings in their “normal” order: h1, h2,…etc. It’s recommended again not having more then one h1 per page, usually h1 contains a very important text like main title of the page, for example could be “purchase” or “download”.

7. Create a sitemap

A site map is a website structure representation, a link collection that helps improving user’s website navigation.

8. Rich content footer

Every time you build a site you should keep in mind that a website should have a header, content and footer, in some cases the last one is missing and the website looks a bit strange…it’s like “hmm…something’s missing?!”.  Lately footers are getting richer and richer content, so take advantage and add information to it and do not forget to get inspired.

9. Think as you are the user

Also, you are an user after all, but imagine you are your own website user, try scenarios, act as you have no idea about the content of your site and try finding important links as purchase, download etc. If it’s hard for you, because you already know every comma in your site, ask a friend or colleague for a feedback. Keep in mind that every opinion matters.

10. Read, read and….read again about usability

If you think you know enough, that means you still have a lot to learn. Usability evolves, but the main principles are staying and reading can help you improve yourself.
Here’s a short book list I’d recommend to read:

  • Don’t Make Me Think – Steve Krug
  • Designing Web Usability: The Practice of Simplicity – Jakob Nielsen
  • Designing Web Interfaces: Principles and Patterns for Rich Interactions – O’Reilly

Posted by: Dhiraj kumar