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Getting a Grip on HTML5 Browser Compatibility

By Vail, Sometime in 2013

Over the past few years, HTML5 has gone from mythical creature to vivid reality and has taken its share of hits from skeptics and experts alike as to its readiness and viability. Now, in 2012, HTML5 is ready for use with all modern browsers, including IE9. It has also been developed to gracefully degrade, even without help from JavaScript or CSS resets.

Even still, you may be concerned about providing full backwards compatibility, or unsure of what will work in one browser and not another. HTML5 has commonly been blamed for the issues presented by jQuery and CSS3, both newer technologies and standards evolving alongside HTML5, but not actually a part of it. To get a grip on HTML5 browser compatibility, you must first understand the way browsers look at each of these languages.


HTML5 is a revision of the HTML markup specification, containing several best practices and rules by which browser makers and web developers can find common ground. It was first drafted and accepted by the W3C in 2006, closing in 2009 and deemed ready for use, with full candidate approval likely this year. It contains new layout elements, which you have likely seen, such as

<article> , <aside> and <nav>

It removes support for presentational tags and attributes, while introducing support for native browser functionality such as multi-media playback and offline storage. CSS3, on the other hand, is a separate specification that is still in active revision, and as such, not all browsers fully support the new selectors. Both of these specifications aim to get web development to a more semantic and meaningful place in terms of producing a set of easy to understand standards that are designed to work well with one another.

Because HTML5 is not tied to CSS3, it can be used in a wide variety of applications without suffering the compatibility issues some cutting-edge CSS3 selectors may pose.

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