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Is HTML5 Tough to Learn?

written by: S. R. Obbayi•edited by: Amy Carson•updated: 8/15/2011

In case you are wondering how difficult it is to learn HTML5, I would like to stretch that a little further and ask. How difficult is it to learn anything? There is no one size fits all answer to such as question and therefore it is going to take more than a few words to explain.

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    HTML5 logo What is all the fuss about how difficult it is to learn HTML5? HTML5 is the most current version of HTML (Hyper Text Mark-up Language), the open standard used to describe web pages. Being the latest of a language standard, it introduces new ways of doing things while some things which were done in a certain way are now done differently.

    These are rightfully the ingredients for a recipe for panic and confusion. No one wants to venture out of their comfort zone in how they have been doing things. So, should this new most current standard be a cause for concern? Hardly not.

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    It is All in the Mind

    It is all about how you perceive the challenge ahead of you. The learning curve of HTML5 is relatively simple. There is a perceived notion that there is more to HTML5 than meets the eye and with all the promotional talk about it, there is no surprise at how difficult one may think it is to learn HTML5.

    Modern websites are getting more animated, dynamic and more intelligent. They are able to respond based on the users' preferences as well as location of the user, time of the day as well as other factors. HTML5 introduces the ability for web browsers to become the foundation for web applications.

    All this might be a little bit too much to swallow for someone with a background in traditional websites or for beginner web designers. Getting up to speed would therefore be highly dependent on my next point.

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    Your Attitude and Determination

    The next thing that will affect your ability to learn HTML5 is your general attitude and your determination towards the whole process. I guess this is the same with anything you want to learn and HTML5 is no exception.

    If you are not ready to read adequately and do substantial amounts of practice exercises all the while being patient, you will not go very far in your quest to successfully learn HTML5. If you plan on relying on copying and pasting other people's code, your determination will definitely turn into frustration and eventually failure.

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    The Process

    The easiest way to learn HTML5 is to get a copy of the HTML5 standards specifications and documentation of what is new and what is deprecated. Next, take some time to familiarize yourself with the syntax definitions and the tags that make up the language.

    Even though there is a lot of technical stuff in the specification, that will not be necessary for you to read as a web developer. Having a general knowledge of the details in the specification can help with your understanding of some of the advanced techniques you may want to use in your web page.

    The section of the specification that would most interest you as the web developer is the section, “The elements of HTML." This covers definitions of the tags and their attributes as you would expect to use them.

    You will also need to note that these specifications are not in their final form and therefore may change without notice.

    Simply reading these documents is not going to make things easy for you. Learning to develop website is just like Math. You require practice. So to get yourself tuned to and familiar with HTML5 you will need to get your hands dirty and start coding web pages using the new tags.

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    The Reality

    By now you should realize that the straightforward answer to how difficult it is to learn HTML5 would be that it is not difficult. This is dependent on the individual and what the user is actually trying to achieve.

    HTML5 is not all about the tags. HTML5 supports built-in video and audio without the use of plug-ins. There is also a Canvas for displaying and creating sophisticated 2D graphics as well as drag-and-drop features for dynamic and improved Web application user interfaces.

    HTML allows for storage of data on the local computer giving web applications the ability to function even when offline.

    These features do tend to complicate things when it comes to HTML5. As it goes beyond the normal conventions that most web developers had become accustomed to. Unfortunately advanced features do not work in a vacuum or as simple elements. They require a third scripting to function.

    Using the advanced features in your web applications will require that you brush up on your JavaScript knowledge as well as CSS3 in the very least as these capabilities rely on the additional functionality that the scripting and styling adds to the language.

    The built-in video and audio capabilities would still be effective without JavaScript or CSS3.

    The Canvas element with the 2D rendering context definitely has he steepest learning curve of any of the HTML5 elements.

    So again you may ask. How difficult is it to learn HTML5? The answer is that it is relatively simple for basic usage generally on websites, and quite a challenge for advanced usage in relation to building web based applications as this comes with complexities.

    The determining factor is your readiness and willingness to put time into reading the specification and following online tutorials and examples and within a few weeks you should be competent with your HTML5 skills.


  • HTML5 Specification,
  • The elements of HTML,
  • HTML5 Logo by W3C
  • HTML5 differences from HTML,
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