The BBC does a U-turn on HTML 5
As HTML5 fever increases it is a question of when you support it rather than if
Published 10:37, 07 October 11
Rewind to August 13th 2010 and Erik Huggers Director of BBC Future and Technology blogged that the the BBC were committed to open standards but "HTML5 is starting to sail off course".
At the time I thought this was a brave statement to make especially as the late Steve Jobs had already announced in April that year and despite a billion app downloads, that HTML5 negated the need for many proprietary browser plug-ins. It was clear at the time this was squared largely at Flash (and possibly Silverlight too).
For me this was a faux pas too far as Huggers continued his blog with statements about proprietary implementations of HTML5 by Apple and fractions of opinions within the W3C and WHAT-WG (who initiated the development of HTML5).
Now fast forward to almost exactly a year later, and Gideon Summerrfield, Executive Product Manager for BBC iPlayer announces the launch of a HTML5 version of iPlayer. Initially this is just aimed at PS3, but will roll out to other devices in the future.
If we take a slight diversion and look at the developer conferences for both Microsoft and Adobe in the last four weeks, both made big announcements about tools and support for HTML5. However committed developers with years of invested skills in SilverLight and Flash were left deflated with the lack of announcements on the future of these technologies.
So have the sleeping giants finally woke up? It seems like it to me.
However, in the case of the BBC, Summerfield's blog states that they will also launch new versions of the iPlayer for Flash and Air. This may be a short term decision to wait for wider support for HTML5, but there is little clarity about what they see as the future for iPlayer.
To Hugger's credit he did foresee the benefits of HTML5 could bring to the BBC in reducing development timescales and having a common skill set.
However I applaud those that have the courage and conviction to take bold steps forward and put their money where their mouth is. The FT is a shining example, ditching their AppStore versions for iDevices and completely moving to HTML5.
There is work to be done on HTML5 and it will evolve for some time yet, but the bandwagon has started to roll and as a good friend of mine said to me at the start of the .com era, "When you see the bandwagon starting to move, you have a choice to jump on, or stand in its way to try and stop a tonne of metal".
For me it is clear. I'm not standing in the middle of the road, I'm jumping squarely on the HTML 5 bandwagon. The question is, are you?