Making HTML5 work now for mobile app development


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HTML5 is still evolving, but in the current mobile landscape, proponents are finding ways around its limitations.

2012 wasn't a great year for HTML5. If it were a football team, the markup language would be at the bottom of its division. But just as the most banged-up team has its diehard fans, companies using HTML5 for mobile application development are not giving up on the would-be standard's cross-platform appeal just yet.

Still, they're not exactly cheering recent developments either:

HTML5 has usability issues. When German social games developer Wooga abandoned its HTML5 efforts last June, it cited problems beyond performance. Specifically, HTML5 apps usually require an Internet connection to load and frequently use, which brings up concerns about discoverability and connectivity.

It has reputation issues. The most notable slam was Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's announcement at TechCrunch last September that "the biggest mistake we've made as a company is betting on HTML5 over native [code]."

And it has performance issues, and has all along. "Performance breaks down with applications that have heavy graphics," explains Jeffrey Hammond, principal analyst for application development and delivery at Forrester Research. Performance is also a problem, he adds, when too many users try to access the same Web application at the same time.

All that said, at least some developers believe the industry will iron out the kinks. After all, HTML5 proponents like to note, Zuckerberg later said in his speech, "It's not that HTML5 is bad. I'm actually, long-term, really excited about it."

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