Friday, May 29, 2009

Google Wave - Why HTML5?

I have been caught up in the hype of google wave. I'll assume you already know what google wave is (Think of it as a mix of instant messaging with email). After watching the Google I/O presentation video, I was thinking, why does this have to be implemented in html 5? Here are some reasons I can dream up:

  1. Html 5 is a richer markup language, with new elements supporting web apps, not least of which is native support for video and other media. It has better support for web apps, including the well known canvas.
  2. Html5 is still in development, so the developers of wave can suggest new features that would be useful for their application. At about 16minutes into the video they mention that they are working on a proposal to get a feature added into html5. The wave team had one feature that they want html 5 to support, which is dragging and dropping files from the local machine into the browser. Currently they use google gears to provide this functionality.
  3. The local storage feature of html5 enables the use of more data in a single web app. So even though there can be a lot of information in each wave, the wave can be brought up instantaneously, and the user can scroll through the history of the messages for a single wave, and the app is still highly responsive. (I am assuming this was done using local storage, otherwise I can't imagine xml and media over the network would be as fast as I saw.
  4. The next version of Internet Explorer (8) does not have full support for html5. Even though the google guys say they are happy that Microsoft will support html5 in the future, this will not happen immediately, and IE will lose market share if google wave really takes off.
  5. This is the main one for me. Google believes that html5 is the future of the web. Google doesn't have to create their own OS, because html5 is going to be the next operating system of the web. With html5 there is no need for flash, no need for silverlight, or a particular browser. Google can continue doing what they do best, which (after search and advertising) is build web apps using raw html and javascript.

Some of these reasons are more side-effects than causes. Either way, with google wave, html 5 has become a much more important language for web developers, and for me Wave has brought html5 very much from a working draft, into the near future.