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Survey Says: HTML5!

Telerik, the company that makes the Kendo UI framework, recently published a survey of more than 4,000 developers, whom they contacted in September about their usage of HTML5. The developers ranged from PHP and Ruby coders to Java jocks and .NET codederos. Among the more noteworthy findings: 82 percent of developers say HTML5 is "important for their job immediately, or in the next 12 months."

"We think that's a pretty un-ignorable stat," says Todd Anglin, vice president of Telerik's HTML5 Web and Mobile Tools group. "In a lot of enterprises we're seeing a shift away from Silverlight and Flash and a rise very quickly in the popularity of HTML5. They're going to have to find a way to adopt these technologies without disrupting the flow and the productivity of their teams."

This survey also suggests that HTML5 adoption is on a faster track than widely believed. Sixty-three percent of respondents said that they are using the technology today.

The folks at Telerik also worked in a question about Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's recent comment that the biggest mistake his company had made so far was "betting too much on HTML5 rather than native" in its mobile software development strategy. Survey respondents said that Facebook's decision to rewrite their HTML5 mobile iPhone app using mostly native code "has had minimal influence on either adoption, or attitude toward adoption, of HTML5. In fact, according to Telerik, 73 percent of the developers surveyed said Facebook's decision had "little to no impact" on their confidence on future HTML5 adoption.

I get a lot of surveys, and clearly, the results of this one are good news for the surveyors, who sell a framework designed to allow .NET and Java developers to use their existing tools and skills to build HTML5 and JavaScript apps and webpages. But it is further evidence that HTML5 is gaining ascendance.

This subject also came up in a conversation I had recently with Embarcadero's Senior Vice President of Product Management Michael Swindell. "This is really about choosing the right technology at the right time for what you want to achieve on the mobile device," he told me. "The mobile devices themselves have limited performance runtimes for things like WebKit and JavaScript. You really have to think about that today when you're building an application. I believe that eventually HTML5 will be perfectly appropriate for a Facebook type of app on the mobile device."

Embarcadero makes a tool designed to allow developers to use the same code base for Web and native apps called HTML5 Builder, so I guess a grain of salt is appropriate here, too -- though I have to add that Swindell is a real veteran of this industry who has seen many changes since his days at the original Borland.

In a long blog post, Jeremy Allaire, CEO of Boston-based online video hosting firm Brightcove, argued that Zuckerberg's "recent public flogging of HTML5" and statements made by the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs "lashing out at Flash" are actually hurting developer productivity. He advocates a hybrid approach:

…With no single company dominating across all categories of devices, app publishers must build for multiple consumer device platforms -- PCs, smartphones, tablets, and smart TVs. To take advantage of these consumer devices and to provide the best user experience and functionality, developers should be building hybrid apps that fuse HTML5 and native code, providing maximum cross-platform leverage, while going native where it counts."

I've been thinking about the tension building among developers around this Web-versus-native argument as just the inevitable stress and strain of evolution. Allaire sees it as potentially more of a religious war. "This is surely an epic time in our industry," he writes.

I think he might be right.

Posted by John K. Waters on November 16, 2012