Web Directions @media Interview: Bruce Lawson – HTML5 is Sexy

Craig Buckler

Craig speaks to Bruce Lawson, Opera’s Open Web evangelist and presenter of “HTML5: structure, semantics, styling and sexiness” at Web Directions @media in London, 8-11 June 2010.

Note: Do you want to attend Web Directions @media in London, 8-11 June?

@media boasts an amazing lineup of speakers including jQuery creator John Resig, SitePoint authors Rachel Andrew, Bruce Lawson and Simon Willison, and British designers Andy Clarke and Mark Boulton. Craig will be there too, but don’t let that put you off!SitePoint readers are eligible for a £100 discount on @media tickets. Simply enter the code SitePoint when you register at the Web Directions website.

Craig Buckler: Please tell us a little about yourself, your work, and how you became involved with web directions @media.Bruce Lawson: I work for Opera, evangelizing the Open Web. In February 2009 I redesigned my blog to use HTML5 (as far as I know, I was the first to do so). It was really a way of teaching myself, as I find it easier to learn it by doing that reading from a spec. It seems I struck a chord as lots of other people became interested, so John [John Allsopp, Web Directions co-founder] and Maxine [Maxine Sherrin, Web Directions co-founder] asked me to talk.CB: You’ve presented at several large events before. Do you thrive on the thrill or does it remain nerve-wracking?BL: It remains nerve-wracking; I generally throw up before going on stage.CB: Your presentation is titled “HTML5: structure, semantics, styling and sexiness”. Is HTML5 really that sexy?BL: Well, some bits are sexy. Canvas and video are sexy. In fact, some people think HTML5 = animations and video (they are just parts of the spec). But then other people think HTML5 is geo-location, CSS3 or SVG which is completely wrong. I’m a markup geek, so I find the 28 new elements, new forms and enhanced potential for accessibility to be sexy.I hope you do too, cos that’s what I’m going to show.CB: Do you think developers can use HTML5 today?BL: Yes, some parts. Canvas, video, and local storage are all available today. There is so much innovation at the moment that every month sees greater browser support. But it’s important to stress that you don’t *have* to use HTML5. Your current websites will continue to function and HTML4 and XHTML1 still works everywhere. If you need HTML5, by all means learn it — but don’t reinvent the wheel.CB: In your opinion, what are the best and worst aspects of HTML5?BL: It simultaneously advances the Web while remaining backward compatible. That’s great, but it can lead to some “WTF” moments when you see some of the uglier APIs and markup. For example, the drag and drop API is particularly minging — but it works in browsers now. The sectioning algorithm would be much easier to understand if HTML5 had adopted a new generic heading <h> (as the aborted XHTML 2.0 specified). But that is not backward compatible so we’ve kept <h1> … </h6>.That’s not a bug, it’s a feature. Advancing the Web without breaking the Web is a very different circle to square.CB: Are there any awkward questions you like us to avoid asking at your presentation?!JS: I hope no one asks about the rumors regarding me and Konnie Huq in the jacuzzi!CB: Many thanks Bruce.See Bruce speaking at Web Directions @media in London, June 2010. Use the promotional code SitePoint when you register to receive a £100 discount.

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