It's the future... or is it? (Source)
Mobile development platform provider Appcelerator recently released its Q1 Mobile Developer report – normally a fantastic resource for monitoring mobile development trends. “Key findings: HTML 5 moves to centre stage” – screamed the headline. “79% of developers are keying in on HTML5” apparently.
“Really?” thought I… “how have I missed this seismic shift in mobile app development methodologies? Has the handset market suddenly matured with a reasonable level of saturation of HTML5-compliant devices? Or is this another example of HTML5 hype which leaves developers with their head in hands, knowing that it’s added more fuel to the myth of this programatic Nirvana?”
Inspection of the (admittedly excellent) Appcelerator report reveals the headline to be in a similar vein to that old retailer favourite “up to 50% OFF”. A large proportion of developers have indicated that they expect to use some HTML5 within their apps, with the majority indicating that less than half of their app is likely to be HTML5-based. The most relevant statistic, in my opinion, was that only 6% of developers intend to build pure HTML5 browser-based applications.
This figure reveals a far more accurate picture of the current development landscape. HTML5 is a useful emerging tool in the developer’s arsenal. It is highly likely to be a significant component within a significant percentage of future applications, but it is not yet a mature enough technology to be utilised extensively across a broad range of apps.
My problem with the current wave of marketing hype is that it’s creating an unrealistic expectation amongst those of a non-technical persuasion. It’s becoming increasingly common to receive a brief from a client who has already decided that their application will be built in HTML5 and for Account and Project Managers to casually mention HTML5 as a suitable development option.
“Developer evangelists” perpetuate these views through the slew of speaker slots and magazine articles which seem to be available to those who wish to shout loudest rather than smartest. I was recently at a conference where a keynote speaker spent 90 minutes extolling the virtues of HTML5 for cross-platform games development. When asked why he didn’t get have any titles on public release he sheepishly admitted “we can’t get them working properly outside of Chrome. Yet”. “Really?!” thought I…
Correcting these unrealistic expectations can be exceedingly difficult. Advising a potential client that they may wish to re-think their development strategy is often met with bemusement, and can easily result in the client deciding to give their project to the unscrupulous tech team who are more than happy to agree until the budget is signed off.
As Appcelerator correctly points out in its report, developers should be selecting a suitable technical approach based on the tasks required by the application. To limit functionality (or to wipe out access by vast swathes of your user demographic) entirely because you want to build using the most fashionable tech isn’t really a good idea.
From Studio Manager Dougie Pender @YomegoSocial #YomegoSocial