HTML5 is the way forward

HTML5 solves today's single-source file, compatibility and rendering problems


Our TOC theme for August was platforms and we transition to the theme of formats in September. In a couple of earlier interviews we talked about the future of iOS and Android as publishing platforms. I also wrote a piece about how the ultimate winner isn’t actually a platform at all. It’s time to bring in an expert and tell us whether HTML5 really is the future of publishing, both as a platform and a format.

I picked one of the smartest people I know for the job. His name is Sanders Kleinfeld and he’s a publishing technology engineer here at O’Reilly. That’s a fancy way of saying he knows digital publishing inside out. Sanders has worked extensively with HTML5 and is the author of our free ebook, HTML5 for Publishers.

Key points from the full video interview (below) include:

  • The biggest challenges today — Single-source files (where all updates are made in one place) and various compatibility problems are just two of the thorniest issues product teams currently face. [Discussed at the 1:25 mark.]
  • HTML5 helps deal with those challenges  — HTML5-based content is much more likely to render properly across a variety of devices and the Javascript ecosystem makes it even more flexible and powerful.  [Discussed at the 4:43 mark.]
  • EPUB3’s “chicken vs. egg” conundrum — Publishers aren’t likely to fully leverage EPUB3’s capabilities unless more ereader apps support it and ereader app vendors aren’t in a hurry because publishers aren’t creating a lot of EPUB3-dependent content partially because reader app support is limited. [Discussed at the 7:10 mark.]
  • EPUB3 vs. HTML5 — Sanders talks about an interesting example where the Nook was unable to properly render portions of the EPUB3 version of his ebook but the Nook’s browser displayed the HTML5 version properly. [Discussed at the 9:25 mark.]
  • What about portability? — The assumption is that an HTML5 solution requires a live web connection but local caching eliminates that problem. [Discussed at the 12:30 mark.]
  • Native apps offer a slight advantage — We’re likely to see more device features accessible via HTML5 but security concerns will probably prevent access to all the device’s capabilities. [Discussed at the 15:25 mark.]
  • How will the ebook landscape change in the next 2 years? — The distinction between ebook and app will become more pronounced where EPUB will address the former but HTML5 is the likely solution for the latter. [Discussed at the 18:10 mark.]

You can view the entire interview in the following video.

This post is part of the TOC podcast series. You can also subscribe to the free TOC podcast through iTunes.

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