HTML is the programming language for the web. Any web page you look at through a web browser needs to be presented using the Hypertext Markup Language, or HTML for short.
In the early days of the World Wide Web, HTML was pretty simple. In those days all you needed was a way to show words on a screen, some images, and create links from one page to another. The functionality of HTML quickly expanded and new web browser versions kept coming out to support the expansions.
HTML blossomed into different versions and by time early public awareness of the web came about in 1996, we were already using HTML version 3.2. That was quickly replaced by HTML 4 in April 1998.
The next version of HTML, version 5, promises to solve a lot of programming issues between proprietary web browser techniques and programming methods. One prime example is the use of Flash video vs. MP4 video.
The organization that oversees the growth of HTML is called the World Wide Web Consortium, or W3C for short. W3C's basic vision of the world is to have the web available to all people and on every computing device. In order to achieve this goal, they've asked many technology companies for their ideas for HTML5.
HTML went from version 3.2 to 4 in only 2 years. Going from 4 to 5 is taking many years because too many companies are involved and technologies are rapidly changing.
The latest online report we found states that HTML 5 might not even be "official" until 2014.
HTML 5 already seems to be a major technology shift for the internet. In the past few years many websites have implemented HTML 5 programming and most portable devices (like your smartphone and tablets) support mostly HTML 5 with little or no support for HTML 3.2 and 4.
Each of the web browser companies are already including limited support for HTML 5. There are 5 major web browsers, not including the smartphone variations. Each browser has several versions still in common use.
These are the statistics of browser usage on jewelry websites for the month of August 2011. The browsers are listed in order of company popularity and then version popularity is shown in parenthesis.
48.68% market share: Internet Explorer (ver. 8, 9, 7, 6)
21.39% market share: Firefox (ver. 3, 6, 5, 4)
17.32% market share: Safari (ver. 53x, 653x)
12.35% market share: Chrome (ver. 13, 12, 10, 14)
0.27% market share: Opera (ver. 11, 9, 10)
With every browser version release, each company adds more support for the impending HTML 5 standard. But since HTML 5 doesn't have an official ratification date, we could see some of the proposed language features change.
Chrome and Firefox both have aggressive development and release dates. Firefox claims they will have versions 7, 8 and 9 all available before the end of 2011. Both Chrome and Firefox are trying to release new versions every 6 weeks.
So what do all these web browsers mean for you, the jewelry store owner?
It means that your web programmer is going to have a hard time keeping up with the programming technology these browsers support. Web programmers will also have a hard time testing your website on every browser.
We find it interesting that as of today, Firefox 6 is the "current" version of Firefox, but any jewelry website project that starts today will need to be tested on Firefox 9 by the time the site is ready to go live.
We are seeing very rapid development right now. A few weeks ago we said you should redesign your website every 18 months, but with this level of browser advancement you need to keep looking at your website and make sure these new browser versions don't suddenly cause display issues.
Speaking of display issues, there are specific HTML 4 tags that are not supported in HTML 5, and others have changed their purpose. For your benefit, we will go back to real HTML basics in the next few Daily Golden Nuggets and tell you what's new and how you should start retraining yourself now.