html5Icon“Stable target”–per the Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C) concerning HTML5’s final rollout

The HTML5 standard is complete. Isn’t that fantastic??!! And with that, developers around the world just started crying about all of the mobile app dev hours they’ve spent working through the last few years. Well, maybe not crying. BUT, the impact of all of their previous work and it’s relevance in the future becomes a trickier question. The long nights, the hundreds of lattes, the elegant apps specifically developed for iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, etc etc…well, something just feels like it changed.  What will need to change in the marketplace? Is there a better way to reach consumers with a mobile application? Browser based development, instead of mobile OS specific…is one better than another?  As a mobile app dev shop, what do I recommend going forward? 
 
Full disclosure.  About a year and a half ago, my colleague and I started working through a mobile project where we encouraged the client to do HTML5 instead of doing a OS specific implementation. Not because we thought it was the best short term decision. We knew that it would present it’s own challenges but we also understood that the key for this application was adoption by end users.  Customers who weren’t all using the latest or greatest iPad. Or even iOS devices for that matter.

However, after starting quickly got into the “incompleteness” of the HTML5 UI standard. It ended up being the right decision and set our client for the future.  But, all along the rock star development lead I worked with would comment about “it would be much easier if we were just coding to one mobile app platform”. There was definitely a lot of trial and error required, not to mention very unique solutions he came up with.  Plus, we had to do some creative decisioning when the legal department weighed in on some of the UI controls we hacked together in HTML5 (you know lawyers!).  

The main benefit from the standard being complete will be that people don’t have to pick one mobile OS vs. another if it doesn’t match their preferred mobile strategy.  Companies can let ‘er rip on developing in HTML5 knowing that they’re not shooting at a moving target.  And if mobile app dev shops play their cards right, their original work will be a fantastic input for the potential re-write their clients might hire them to complete. They will be able to develop the right cross platform application for their clients, who in turn can reach their consumers in a much more consistent cross mobile device method.  Regardless of whether the lawyers like it or not!