Form a learning plan for an HTML5 future

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The trend toward using Web technologies for application development, even outside of the Web browser, is here to stay. The recent revelation that Windows 8 will have provisions for writing apps using the HTML5 technologies merely cements this shift in the development world. So the question is: How are you going to deal with it?

If you haven’t been following closely, it is easy to wonder why and how Web technologies are suddenly being cast in the role of desktop application development platforms. In the HTML5 standard that is being finalized, there are a number of new items that add on real application development capabilities to HTML’s existing document formatting. In the past, big JavaScript frameworks and browser plugins were needed for some fairly trivial functionality.

HTML5 changes the game by adding support for things like video streaming, multithreaded and asynchronous processing (via the “Web Workers” message passing system), direct communications through sockets, and more. While the idea that a document format standard has these capabilities may be horrifying to some (including myself), this is the direction that HTML is headed in, and it has backing from Apple, Microsoft, Google, Mozilla, Adobe, and more. In addition, the various frameworks out there make it very easy to directly connect Web applications to backend Web services. As a result, HTML5 is now as capable as technologies like Silverlight, Flash, Flex/AIR, and JavaFX for many tasks (though there are still some things that those technologies do better).

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