Q&A: what is HTML5 and how does it affect website localization?

By Acclaro
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1. What is HTML5?

HTML5 is a major revision to HTML and XHTML, the standard for structuring and presenting content on the Internet. It includes everything you see in your browser, such as text, images, multimedia, web apps, search forms, and so on.

2. How is it different from HTML and XHTML?

  • Canvas — JavaScript to create web graphics
  • Location API — Interface to location data from GPS or other sources
  • Video Element — Easier to embed video on web pages
  • AppCache — Allows websites to launch even while offline
  • Web Workers — Background thread that speeds execution

3. Why all the fuss?

Many of these new features, like video playback and drag-and-drop, have been dependent on third-party browser plug-ins like Adobe Flash, Microsoft Silverlight and Google Gears. HTML5 changes all of that. As an open source system, it supports open standards that expose underlying technologies, enabling integration, innovation and development of more complex software and services.

4. How does HTML5 affect website localization?

HTML5 is a game-changer, however, it won’t drastically alter the way that your translation partner localizes your website. HTML5 is simply a revision of the “old” HTML and XHTML, and thus requires the same translation and localization skills used with previous versions.

It only affects the translators (and the engineers preprocessing/parsing the translatable text from the files) who are working on your project in the sense that they will need to be familiar with the new tags and markups.

5. Should I stick with HTML or XHTML, or move on to HTML5 if I want to take my website global?

Either will work just fine, however HTML5 may give you an edge when taking your website global for a few reasons, namely:

Geolocation: Location-aware devices are important when targeting audiences abroad. Previously, geolocation was limited to a single provider’s API or browser tool. With HTML5, locations can be used to tailor search results and tag social media updates, among other functions.

Reach: If you want to make your website available to as many people as possible, it makes sense to use a “write once, use everywhere” system like HTML5. And, because it does not require plug-ins, web users that do not install plug-ins will have the same viewing experience as everyone else.

Browsers: Flash and its brethren are notorious for causing browser memory leaks and crashes; HTML5 does not have that problem. However, not all browsers — namely Internet Explorer — support HTML5’s features. If you plan on targeting countries like Germany, where Firefox commands a majority share, or Japan, where IE still rules but people are quick to adopt new technologies, HTML5 may be your best choice. In China, however, nearly 90% of the population uses IE, with more than half on IE6! Check StatCounter for country-specific browser usage to see what makes sense for your website.

6. How else can HTML5 help me with my global website strategy?

HTML5 enhances SEO, audio and video, and mobile functionalities. Read our full article on HTML5 and learn more about this latest web markup language.

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