HTML5 mobile development promises to be a big growth area in the years ahead because the learning curve is relatively minor. As "HTML5 Mobile Web Development" instructor Jake Carter notes in the following interview, you don't need extensive programming experience to get going.
What are the basic skills you need to get into HTML5 mobile web development?
I don't use an integrated development environment (IDE) when developing web apps, so I need to be able to look at the code and imagine how the browser is going to render it. That's an ability that improves over time, though.
Do you need previous programming experience to code HTML5 for mobile?
Jake Carter: No. HTML was the first language I learned. In some ways I think it's a good starter language because it introduces you, in a non-threatening way, to the things you need to do to communicate with the computer. Some people freak out when they see semicolons and matching braces, so a language that focuses on interface can be a bit tamer.
What are some of the best HTML5 mobile sites you've run across? Why are they notable?
Jake Carter: Some of the best are probably ones you would never really think about. They load quickly, the pages are sized for a device's screen, and the layout is easily navigable.
Is HTML5 a competitor to native mobile applications?
Jake Carter: This is a tough question. I think it depends on the type of app you're working on. HTML5 web apps are great if you need an app that you can deploy quickly to multiple different platforms and easily push updates out to your users.
Native apps are great because they feel right at home on the device. With most native development environments, you get a lot of the native "look and feel" for free. You also have the most up-to-date APIs when working with a native SDK. That usually gives you access to all of the hardware features of the device quicker then waiting for them to become available within a browser.
Can HTML5 mobile development skills transfer over to native app development?
Jake Carter: There are differences between web development and native development. For one, web apps must be able to potentially handle hundreds of thousands of people using them at the same time. The design of the code needs to be structured appropriately.
Although there are differences in architecture and languages, there are still transferable skills. Mobile developers have coding patterns that help us with certain tasks. The code for the patterns differs between languages, but the ideas are usually similar. So if you know how to do something the right way in one language, all you really need to figure out is the correct syntax to accomplish the same task in the new language.
This interview was edited and condensed.
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Learn more about this topic from HTML5 Mobile Web Development.