How is HTML5 different from HTML
Differences Between HTML and HTML 5: Fundamental New Features
HTML5 is currently the foundation of the Internet. That may sound simple at first - but it isn't necessarily. The internet is now a lot cooler and more dynamic than it used to be.
To make this possible in the first place, it was first necessary to improve HTML. In this tutorial, we want to take a look at the main differences between the HTML of yesteryear and HTML5.
But first let's start by describing what HTML is all about.
What is HTML anyway?
To answer the question "What is HTML", let's begin by breaking down the acronym HTML. HTML stands for HyperText M.arkup L.anguage. But if you're not already doing cool things on the internet, it probably won't help you too much now.
The first big mistake many people make with HTML is thinking of HTML as a programming language. But it's not. Instead, it's a way of writing directives for the browser. These directives describe what the skeleton of the page should look like.
The difference between HTML and a real programming language is that HTML can't handle logic - and that's what makes a real programming language, after all. HTML does not allow you to react to conditions like a classic programming language.
This is the short version of the answer to the question “What is HTML” and thus also the first step in understanding the differences between HTML and HTML5.
Ok, so how does HTML work now?
Learning to understand HTML is a huge help in understanding the differences between HTML and HTML5. HTML5 looks back on a long history in the overall context of web development, which is not least due to the enormous technical development in this sector.
Now let's learn to understand what HTML is and how it works.
Your entire HTML code describes to the browser what is displayed in which order on your website. If you're just using HTML, your page is unlikely to look very pretty. That's because you use CSS for styling. HTML only describes which elements are on the page and uses them to create the appropriate structure for the browser. That's why it's so essential for web development. You could even say that HTML IS the Internet.
Simply put, HTML works by defining various elements between what are called Tags, namely <> (opening tags) and (closing tags). These tags define what an element represents and where it is located.
- <p> stands for a so-called paragraph, a text element
- <h2> stands for Heading 2, a (sub) heading
- Both elements would be closed with the appropriate tag, with for the paragraph and h2> for the heading
If you want to get to know more tags, we can provide you with a list.
These are just the basics and things can get more complicated than that. Basically, however, HTML is just a string of elements. How, where and with what day these elements are presented is a question the answer to which has changed over the years. Hence, the syntax is one of the main differences between HTML and HTML5. It has to be said that HTML5 has changed for the better over the years. The syntax became more intuitive and less complicated.
What is html5
We have now learned together what HTML is. But what is HTML5?
You have to know that the people who came up with HTML in 1995 had no idea how much the internet would change in the next 20 years.
In order to do justice to these changes, the language of the Internet also had to adapt to the new requirements. HTML5 is the latest evolution of HTML. Its job is to make all websites compatible with all browsers that are in use (... even if it doesn't always work perfectly and we sometimes still have to take care of it ourselves).
Of course, you can also use the previous HTML versions to build a website. It would just not be as good and technically less in line with current requirements. Probably the most serious change to HTML is the way it handles modern websites, for example to cater to users who are using mobile devices (tablets and cell phones). This type of access is still increasing. Overall, it can be said that there is no way around HTML5 for a new website in 2019.
HTML and HTML5: The Differences
We now know what HTML and HTML5 are. Now let's look at how HTML and HTML5 differ, and specifically what makes HTML5 better than its predecessor.
Do you remember when the web looked like this? AOL.de in 2004
The first, rudimentary version of HTML was introduced in 1993. Its successor, HTML 2.0 came out in 1995. Try to remember the first website you saw (or alternatively, look again carefully at the picture above). Now open a new tab on your browser and compare the picture with a current, dynamic and responsive website.
Do you realize how advanced the new sites are compared to the old '90s sites?
The differences are literally gigantic. Creating a modern website with the HTML of yesteryear would be very difficult if not impossible. The technologies required for this simply did not exist back then and when they did exist, they were either not supported or insufficiently supported.
As the capabilities of computers and the Internet increased, HTML was rewritten by developers around the world with one goal: to render more modern, better web pages with far more capabilities.
HTML 3.0 was introduced in January 1997, but was only for a short time (about 11 months)
HTML 4 was created in 1997 at the suggestion of the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) and was the bedrock of the Internet for 17 years, much longer than any of its predecessors. HTML 5 was created in 2014 and it wasn't long before developers started using it. Another difference between HTML and HTML5 is that HTML 5 will have no successors. HTML5 will no doubt receive some updates, but there won't be an official successor, at least none are planned as of now.
Now let's see how HTML5 has been adapted to meet the modern demands of the Internet.
Better error handling
One of the main differences between HTML (HTML4 and all of its previous versions are hereinafter abbreviated as HTML) and HTML5 is improved error handling. The reason for this is simple:
No developer, no matter how good, manages to write code that has no bugs - at least not until now.
One of the main goals of HTML5 was to enable browser developers to describe better parsers. The parser is the part of the browser that interprets HTML code and returns an error if it finds errors.
To enable consistent error handling, error handling in HTML5 was designed so that errors can be handled consistently. This makes the development of a browser easier and therefore cheaper.
In addition, HTML5 is also more robust: Not every small mistake leads to the fact that a website is no longer displayed at all.
Support for modern web applications
Another difference between HTML and HTML5 is support for much more advanced web applications. The reason why such improved support was needed is very simple:
Imagine a website from the 90s. Now think of the Netflix site (see screenshot below). Modern websites are structured more like standalone applications that run in the browser. HTML5 is one of the reasons why such applications are possible.
Netflix login screen - Modern HTML5
HTML5 comes with many of these extensions out of the box, which saves developers a lot of time.
Another difference between HTML and HTML5 is improved semantics, or in other words, simplified syntax.
The code on a complicated website quickly becomes complex, and that complexity can seem terrifying. Hundreds and thousands or even hundreds of thousands of elements mean that even experienced developers lose track of things.
HTML5 was designed to adapt HTML to twenty-first century standards. In addition, the HTML syntax has been made more intuitive. For example, there are now tags like
Better support for mobile devices
In 1997 the mobile phone was still relatively new on the market. Cell phones were mainly and almost exclusively used to - surprise! - make calls. They were also more common among the younger generation.
In 2014 the situation was completely different. The smartphone, together with the 4G cellular standard, became a powerful tool that anyone can carry in their pocket.
This change led to perhaps the most important improvement to the HTML standard - improved support for mobile devices.
In contrast to computer monitors, mobile phone displays are usually longer than they are wide. Accordingly, anything that is optimized for computer monitors looks rather humble on smartphones, unless the website is specifically optimized for mobile devices.
This is where HTML5 comes in by significantly simplifying the development of smartphone-friendly websites.
If you think about yourself and your surfing behavior - what is the chance that you will stay with your smartphone for a long time on a page that just looks modest? Nowadays, more than half of all internet users use the smartphone. So it was high time.
There are studies that show that when a brand offers a mobile-optimized website, sales go up dramatically. This also makes mobile device support interesting for companies.
Improved support for video and audio files
The processing of video and audio is another difference between HTML and HTML5.
In 1997 most of them were connected to the Internet via an analog modem and download speeds were accordingly. Compared to today, computers were more like toasters and no one worried that HTML4 wasn't really designed to play video and audio files smoothly.
The situation is completely different in 2014 and 2019, respectively. Most of them have much better connections and video and audio are integral parts of the Internet. Videos and podcasts usually appeal to a larger audience than dry articles.
Improved support for video and audio were therefore imperative improvements to HTML through HTML5.
Support of vector graphics
Nowadays, vector graphics are often used to make websites look nicer. However, this was not adequately supported by HTML. Good support for vector graphics wasn't introduced until HTML5.
A normal .jpg file is simply described and scaled by showing the pixels either further apart or closer together.
But what happens if a small image is displayed greatly enlarged due to design requirements? The image will be displayed, but it will be very pixelated. This is because a small amount of information (the small image) has to fill an image that is actually designed for more pixels. The solution? Vector graphics.
If you use Adobe Photoshop to create an image with various assets in .png or .jpg format and then enlarge it afterwards, the image will lose quality.
Of course, you could recreate the image in Photoshop, but if your assets aren't of the quality you need, then upscaling the image won't help either. Since no information can be generated by scaling that was not there in the original image, your image will still not look good.
This problem can be avoided with the .svg format and programs such as Adobe Illustrator that are based on vector graphics. A vector object can be scaled to any size without affecting the quality.
Monitors and televisions with 4K resolution and virtually unlimited download speeds make vector graphics an efficient way to keep your website looking good on any device.
HTML5 supports the .svg format and thus also vector graphics. This support was not yet available with HTML4.
Other improvements to HTML5
We've already touched on some important improvements to HTML5. But the list doesn't end there.
For example, HTML4 websites could only use the browser cache to store temporary files, while HTML5 can also use web-based SQL databases and the application cache. In case of doubt, this can save RAM and thus improve performance.
The range of form elements has also been expanded to adapt HTML to current requirements and to provide developers with the tools they need to develop modern websites.
Another positive improvement of HTML5 over previous versions is improved compatibility with browsers and devices.
There are a ton of platforms and at least as many different browsers. The fact that HTML4's code had to be adapted for all possible combinations of browsers and platforms often made development extremely difficult. The new version of HTML is designed to work smoothly with different devices.
All current browsers encourage developers to switch to HTML5. However, there are still a lot of HTML4-based websites out there, simply because no one has updated these pages.
All browsers still support HTML4, but the new version has a lot of advantages.
HTML 5 examples
You are probably wondering which version of HTML your favorite websites are using. The easiest way to find out is to look at the website code in your browser.
The difference between HTML and HTML5 is not great, but it is still visible. The first line of every HTML file begins with a so-called doctype-Declaration. If the file does not begin with , it is not an HTML5 document either.
In HTML 4.01 there were three different ways in which the doctype could be declared. If you want to know more about it, you can have a look at the following code:<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/strict.dtd">
The doctype in HTML5, with a standard HTML framework, would look like this:<html> <head> <title>Der LerneProgrammieren Blog</title> </head> <body> <h1>Unser Blog</h1> <p>Das ist ein Text</p> <a href="https://lerneprogrammieren.de/">Das ist ein Link</a> </body> </html>
However, this is only a brief example.
Part of a more representative example might look like this:
Example: HTML5 code of this article on LerneProgrammieren.de
Hypertext Markup Language (HTML for short) is essential for web development. Until the recommendations were issued by the W3C in 2014, the guidelines were a little behind their time for a while.
By HTML5 Some very welcome changes have been introduced:
- Improvements in error handling
- Simplified syntax
- Improved support for mobile devices
- Improved support for various video and audio formats, as well as vector graphics.
Improved support for mobile devices and the media extensions are most important for users, but there have also been some improvements for developers. Overall, it was just high time to take this step.
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