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Term of the Week: HTML5

What is it?

The latest version of HTML, the markup language used to structure and present content in pages on the World Wide Web.

Why is it important?

HTML5 is important because it represents a substantial improvement over previous content description languages, including HTML 4.01 and XHTML 1.1. In addition, it provides easier integration with and access to many common, but typically difficult, content presentation technologies and techniques.

Why does a technical communicator need to know this?

HTML5 is not a singular thing, it’s a collection of discrete features: audio, video, SVG, new elements, new APIs, and much more. Therefore, technical communicators must understand that, although HTML5 is widely supported, support for its features varies across display platforms.

HTML5 simplifies content structural markup through new semantic elements (<header>, <nav>, <aside>). It provides direct access to previously complex non-text content through new media elements (<audio>, <video>, <canvas>). Thus, HTML5 may be considered an enabling technology that makes it easier control the structure and presentation of content regardless of source format, browser version, or delivery device.

All technical communicators should be aware of HTML5’s features. Newer versions of many common tools support HTML5 features or transparently provide cross-browser solutions that emulate certain features. HTML5 is not just for the technical communicator who wants to know what’s under the hood, but for every technical communicator who wants to stay current.

About Dave Gash

Photo of Dave Gash

Dave Gash is the owner of HyperTrain, a Southern California firm specializing in technology consulting and training for hypertext developers. A veteran software professional with over thirty years of development, documentation, and training experience, Dave holds degrees in Business and Computer Science. He is well known in the international technical publication community as an interesting and engaging technical instructor. Dave is a frequent speaker at user assistance conferences in the US and around the world.

Term: HTML5