Thursday, July 12, 2012

So why all the fuss over HTML5?

HTML5 is not your father’s HTML – or, for that matter, your younger self's HTML. Nor is it simply a standard for delivering web content. Unlike its predecessors, HTML5 allows you to create an immense variety of applications and human machine interfaces (HMIs). It even lets you build applications that are neither connected to the Internet nor based on a traditional browser.

But don’t take my word for it. Check out the recent whitepaper,“Why HTML5 Is Becoming the HMI Technology of Choice,” from my colleagues Andy Gryc and Marc Lapierre.

To explain why HMI developers are turning to HTML5, Andy and Marc explore several themes. For instance:

  • HTML5 allows developers to construct applications either inside or outside of a browser, with capabilities such as databases, threading, and input from device hardware.
  • Using CSS3 animations, the <canvas> element, WebGL, and SVG graphics, HTML5 provides control over HMI rendering that is precise enough for games and flexible enough for applications.
  • The influx of software developers adopting HTML5 to build cross-platform applications is re-orienting the HMI development community, which is increasingly following traditional design patterns in its applications, separating the model (HTML/DOM), view (CSS), and controller (JavaScript) in a more maintainable architecture.

But what about the hardware?
Before you go, please note that the paper doesn't answer an important question; namely, how can an HMI developed with HTML5 communicate with a system's hardware devices? For instance, in the car, an HTML5-based HMI may need to communicate with the CAN bus, GPIO pins, and I2C and SPI devices, as well as with external devices like tablets and smartphones.

Fortunately, there's a paper for this, too. :-)

In "HTML5-Hardware Communication with PPS Messaging," also written by Andy Gryc, you'll find out how PPS, an HMI-agnostic, asynchronous messaging model, can provide a very flexible approach to communicating with in-vehicle hardware.

With PPS, devices don’t communicate with the HMI directly. Rather, they become publishers of data objects to which the HMI can subscribe. As a result, it becomes much easier to swap out or modify devices, as well as the HMI itself. This, of course, is the Reader's Digest version. Download the paper to get the fully skinny.

Further reading (and viewing)

If you're interested in HTML5 and the car, here are some other papers and posts I recommend:


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