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

By 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.

  • ralph.m

    HTML5 seems really interesting, but I’d like to hear more discussion about its abandonment of SGML standards, as so eloquently expressed by felgall in the SitePoint forums:

    Hoping we aren’t heading down a road here that we’ll regret later on.

    • awasson

      I’ve been asking this question (the one on ralph.m’s post) on several forums and blogs and other than Felgalls’s answer, nobody seems to have anything to say about it which makes me wonder about the unremarkable DOCTYPE tag. Maybe Craig has some follow up info…

      HTML5 looks like a really promising tech but is the DOCTYPE tag shooting it in the foot for any future versions of HTML5.x or HTML6, etc… The problem I’m getting at is that without referring to a DTD which we do with current versions of HTML how does a browser engine recognize the version?

      Older non-HTML5 aware browsers will think it’s HTML4.x which is fine but what about 10 years down the road when HTML6 or HTML5.5 are out. How will the markup be recognized as distinctly different from the various versions?

      Also, when is HTML5 going to be out of draft? Should it be promoted like done deal when it’s not even a real standard yet? If you read any of the Apple propaganda it’s as if HTML5 is a stable standard. Obviously more to do with their PR issues with Adobe but all the same, since W3 don’t seem to have a date for release should it be so heavily promoted when it’s obviously not mature?

  • jaredwilli

    I started using it months ago. I went to a meetup in february that had members of the W3 presented html5, css3,svg, and canvas at. It’s really very cool. I’ve restructured 2 of my sites using html5 and css3 already even. and wednesday im going to a meetup where W3C’s Philippe Le Hegaret will go over building an html5 video player, which we did back in february as well :)

  • Dax

    If not only for the DOCTYPE declaration itself!!!

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