HTML5 & JavaScript Driving The Rise Of Web Apps

It’s pretty fair to say that native apps offer the best mobile user experience. Designed purely for mobile devices, there are no compromises made for larger screens, while they can call on systems like iOS7 and Apple’s Quartz Composer to power their features. The results make for some stunning UX with smooth transitions and layered parallax effects – just look at Facebook’s Paper app as an example.

Facebook Paper

This kind high-performance app is something you can only dream of creating with web technologies and a humble browser. However, such a dream is edging closer to reality and back in February Forbes reported on the team at Famo.us and how they built a Paper replica using HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript.

New trends in web technologies are making fully functional, high-performance web applications a reality meaning you don’t need to develop separate applications for iOS, Android and other operating systems. We’re not quite there in terms of recreating native apps like Paper for mobile browsers, but developments in HTML5 and JavaScript are bringing us closer all the time.

The HTML5 JavaScript API Rocks

HTML5

There is a long list of features in the HTML5 JavaScript API and you can take a look at them here. But to save you some time, I’ll run through the key features that are set to make web app development a much cleaner process.

Web Workers mean you can execute multiple JavaScript tasks at the same time, without impacting performance in the way we are used to. Still in their early days, the application of web workers is yet to reach its potential, but they will play a major part in developing high-performance web applications that demand less from browsers.

WebSocket is another performance booster, offering a quicker alternative to AJAX for real-time communication between a web browser and a server. Basically, this cuts out some work on the HTTP requests and data can be sent any time – making it ideal for live-chat, online gaming and customer service.

Web Storage offers up an alternative to cookies, allowing data to be stored locally in a much cleaner way. While cookies send stored data upon every server call, web storage holds on to the data and stores it in the browser until it is closed.

Application Cache stores enough information so that users can access your entire website offline – which means those annoying connection drops don’t have to interrupt their session. Likewise, if your site is down for maintenance, users can access the “offline” version while you get your site back up and running.

Enter Full-Stack JavaScript Development

The HTML5 JavaScript API makes scripting so much more effective that we are seeing more developers turn to full-stack, server-side JavaScript. Developers no longer need to wrestle with PHP and MySQL when they can achieve the same goals using pure JavaScript – all with a much cleaner execution thanks to the HTML5 API.

It’s a less demanding approach for developers who are more comfortable with JavaScript, allowing them to focus on clean code, rather than mashing together different languages. More importantly, it’s less demanding on the browser with the HTML5 JavaScript API – which is good news for user experience.

Expect To See More Single Page Applications

Single page applications (SPAs) mean users don’t have to load or reload pages every time they navigate to a new section. This breaks the traditional infrastructure of a website built with pages and moves closer towards native applications.

Single page websites had their spell in 2013, but they come with a number of SEO disadvantages once you break away from the navigation and page structure that search engines use to index content. This will undoubtedly hold up the adoption of SPAs from a business perspective, but you have to say the concept of removing unnecessary page loads is a massive improvement for user experience.

Think Device, Not Screen Size

glass-vs-iwatch

Wearable technology is upon us and web browsers have found their way into cars and all sorts of devices. The Internet of Things is here and if you think multiple devices means mobile, tablet and desktop then you have some catching up to do.

Google Glass packs a browser (XE7) with a resolution of 640×360 which users can control with voice, touch and head movements. Samsung TVs have been using voice and movement gestures for years now and you are looking at Ultra HD resolutions these days.

The mobile-first approach to responsive design aims to start from the bottom and work its way up to create a single website that works across all devices. It’s the best solution we have so far, but we need to ditch the concept of “mobile” development and move into a more holistic mindset for the plethora of connected devices about to hit the market.