HTML5 and CSS3 Confusion

HTML5Too often I have found myself trying to explain to people what HTML5 is and how it won’t make the web look better. Then I get into a discussion of CSS3 and, other than the standards-obsessed, that’s when I lose most people.

There is a post on PC Pro today (The confusion surrounding HTML5) that explains it pretty succinctly, and even lays some of the blame for the confusion at Apple’s feet for its highly-publicized Safari-only HTML5 demos. That may be why this stuck out to me. After Apple showed it off, every two-bit basement-dwelling FrontPage-using webmaster-wanna-be decided HTML5 was awesome, completely missing the fact that it was the CSS3 and pretty pictures that really got their attention.

What I like about the post is that the author explains you can use HTML 4.01 with CSS3, or you can use HTML5 with CSS 2.1 (don’t limit yourself to those two options, more fun can be had). I don’t think this piece will convince those who disagree when I say the same thing, but at least it’s easier to share this than wheel me into a room each time it needs to be explained.

If you are stumbling across web sites touting their HTML5 prowess, but the real whiz-bang is how they look, then you can be pretty sure that those sites are also using CSS3. And if you find somebody who claims HTML5 is all that, you can explain that without CSS3, it’s not. At this point, HTML5 is an unfinished spec that simply defines structural and semantic elements and doesn’t have a thing to say about style. Nor will it.

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