HTML5 Live Conference

I recently attended HTML5 Live, a single day conference here in New York. The conference was pitched as an event focusing on HTML5 for enterprise developers instead of designers. I was surprised to see a number of familiar faces from both the industry and the .NET/Java community. It seems that although HTML5 applications are not yet being widely developed, they’re very much on people’s minds. That said, despite the enterprise focus, once we sat down nearly everyone pulled out a MacBook or iPad, just like any other web event…

The Keynote was given by Jeffery Hammond, an expert on application development from Forrester. In my opinion, his talk was pitched perfectly. Mainly, that HTML5 has recently been extremely hyped and as people actually get into it they should be aware that they’re going to be disappointed. Although that seems like quite a negative way to start a conference on the subject, he followed it with a very pragmatic look at where HTML5 currently is, and where it’s going to be in the coming years.

HTML5 on the Gartner Hype Cycle

I found how he described us as being at the top of the “inflated expectations” curve particularly amusing as many of these I’ve seen first hand-

  1. Marketing is keen to “add HTML5”
  2. Many technologies and API are keen to be grouped with HTML5, despite being quite unrelated.
  3. “Flash/Silverlight are dead”
  4. HTML5 is cited as the solution for just about everything.
  5. Mainstream media have already picked up on the trend. (I think he referenced the New York Times)

The bottom line of his talk was that HTML5 today is an attractive option for applications that want a broad reach across mobile devices. Whereas there are still large gaps in desktop browsers, and the tooling is still very much evolving. Everyone will find HTML5 “ready” at a different time – know your users.

Adobe and Microsoft were also both represented at the event. Representatives from both companies were keen to show their love for the new HTML5 platform; I think both had “We ♥ HTML5” in their slides. On Adobe’s front, they started by demonstrating some of contributions they’ve made to webkit as a result of it’s integration with AIR – clearly making the point that HTML5 and their RIA platform can have a mutually beneficial relationship.

As for Microsoft, I was wondering quite what they would have to talk about apart from IE9. Although I expect that we’ll see some HTML5 tooling from Microsoft in the near future, currently there’s not much to speak of. I was pleasantly surprised to hear a great overview of HTML5 and a look at the tests that Microsoft are committing to various specifications. Although not much of it was particularly new to me, I’m glad that this is the kind of talk Microsoft will be giving to introduce developers to the platform. Of course there was the mandatory IE9 fishes demo.

Like most events, I found the most interesting part meeting other attendees after the talks were over. Most of the people I spoke to were there simply to gain some understanding of what HTML5 actually is. It’s clear that despite the recent buzz (or cynically maybe due to), HTML5 is a confusing term for a lot of developers, especially in the enterprise.