Why learning HTML5 & jQuery is i

Why learning HTML5 & jQuery is important for ASP.NET developers

Recently I posted on my Facebook wall and blog about the HTML5 & jQuery training program I will be conducting in the month of June 2013. Some of my friends and readers who are still doing web development using classic techniques asked why HTML5 and jQuery is so important and why suddenly it it is getting so much attention. After all very few ASP.NET developers learn HTML 4.x as a stand alone and independent topic. They mostly learned HTML and JavaScript as a part of their overall ASP.NET development rather than taking a serious dip into those areas. This article is an attempt to answer these questions and explains why HTML5 and jQuery matter a lot in the modern web application development. So, if you have similar questions in your mind read on...

1. We all have changed and so is the web

Let's face it. The web sites that people developed some 10-12 years ago and what people develop today are different beasts. Gone those days of static HTML pages backed by some poorly written JavaScript code. Modern web sites follow Web 2.0 philosophy. They are interactive, data driven and rely heavily on real-time data. Web sites interact with the users in variety of ways - audio, video, graphics, drag-n-drop, animations and more, and all of these need to fit together with your server side infrastructure. The traditional ways of developing web sites are just unfit for the modern world. You need something that is evolving with changing times and industry trends and HTML5 is precisely about coping these types of changes. If you are still thinking of web sites in terms of "pages" and not in terms of "applications" it's high time you upgrade your skill-set. 

2. Do not underestimate the power of client side scripting

I have seen this typical tendency amongst ASP.NET developers - most of them are brilliant developers when it comes to server side development. Ask them to code a reasonably big module in JavaScript and they start making faces. This reluctance to make your hands dirty with client side script is no longer acceptable. I repeat - no longer acceptable. If you are developing a modern web application you have to master client side script (read JavaScript) equally well as the server side C# code. There is simply no alternative. At times this reluctance comes from the idea that ASP.NET server side framework is too powerful than the client side scripting. Agree. ASP.NET has a rich set of classes and controls. However, they are rigid in terms of what they can offer and in what fashion. Client side scripting, on the other hand might be tidy in terms of its object model and API, but it is quite powerful in terms of flexibility and innovative use. Take any modern web application that you use daily - Facebook, Google, SkyDrive, Outlook.com, YouTube - all are using client side script in amazing ways. So, if you want to become a good ASP.NET developer stop considering client side scripting as something inferior. Do not underestimate its power, rather harness that power to develop something amazing! jQuery has become a the de-facto standard for writing client side script and all the major software companies including Microsoft heavily use it in their products (for example, ASP.NET MVC projects use jQuery by default). Going ahead HTML5 & jQuery are going to be your best companions. So, stop hating client side scripting!

3. HTML5 is the future of web development standards

There is no doubt that HTML5 is the future of web development. It may not replace each and every desktop application but it is definitely a lot powerful standard. More importantly all the leading browsers - IE9+, Firefox, Chrome and Opera - are aggressively providing support for HTML5 features into their products. This development has one advantage - all the vendors are working in the same directions (as opposed to, say Microsoft going in their own way). That's why HTML5 is a good candidate to be accepted as a standard by a huge part of the industry. HTML5 evolved from HTML classic based on the changing industry needs and it has already established itself as the web standard of the future. 

4. HTML5 is more than just HTML++

Those ASP.NET developers who are ignoring HTML5 today often think that HTML5 is just some addition to HTML classic. Although HTML5 is not intended to make HTML4.x obsolete it is not just few additional markup tags here and there. HTML5 offers a whole new paradigm for developing web applications. HTML5 is not just about markup tags but also about programmable APIs, feature rich APIs. This is the reason that HTML5 and JavaScript / jQuery go hand in hand. If you want to use the power of HTML5 you have to know client side script. And if you want to ease the client side scripting you have to use jQuery. The programmable of features of HTML5 are quite rich and powerful. Especially features such as Audio, Video, Web Workers, Web Sockets, SSE, Canvas, File API and Geolocation were totally absent in the previous versions of HTML. Did you ever think that one day JavaScript code will use multithreading or will have full-duplex communication? But that's what HTML5 allows you to do. So, HTML5 is not just HTML++ - it's HTML# if you want to put it in C# way!

5. When to use HTML5 and when to avoid it

Marketing and hype is everywhere. HTML5 is no exception. If you look around you will find websites flooded with articles, tutorials and musings on HTML5. But do you need all those talked about features in your application? For example, if you are developing a data driven web site that uses some third party charting controls do you need Canvas then? Questions such as these can be answered only when you learn HTML5. Without such an in-depth understanding you may tend to base your decision on some external source and it can go wrong! So, learning HTML5 equips you will all the fundamental clarity needed to take your decision.

6. Customers are looking for futuristic solutions

Customers are not merely interested in solving their current business problems, they also want that the solution they use today be used / extended for future problems. HTML5 and jQuery are such futuristic technologies. You can start using them today and you will be using them tomorrow too. This is a great news for any developer because whatever you invest in the skill-building today won't become throw-away tomorrow. You simply need to fine tune and upgrade it with latest enhancements. When you develop web applications using such future ready technologies your customers are also assured that they can trust you in providing relevant and modern solutions to their future business problems. This way they also know that if need arises they can get additional people with desired skill-set with ease since you are sticking to industry standards.

7. Competitors are using it

It is quite possible that your competitors (business competitors or job competitors) are already using HTML5 & jQuery heavily in their applications. If you don't use them in your products (of course, subject to a valid usage scenarios) it clearly indicates that you are lagging behind in terms of technical expertise and are finding it difficult to keep yourself updated with the latest industry trends. If you learn HTML5 and jQuery now you can start using your newly acquired skills right from today. 

8. You will have to learn it someday. Don't be left behind.

It's a fact that one day or the other you will have to learn HTML5 and jQuery. That's because the industry is already pushing hard for these standards. It will be impossible for you to ignore them in near future. If that is the case, why waste time? Don't be left behind. Ride the HTML5 bandwagon today and you will find that your efforts were worth and rewarding. If you skip it for now a day will soon come when you will be forced to learn them quickly and you will find yourself in a fix because of the mounting pressure. 

9. Spice up your resume

Some of you (ok. many of you) who are interested in changing their jobs will find HTML5 and jQuery as a invaluable addition to your skill-set. As I mentioned before HTML5 and jQuery have already became industry standards. There might be dozen other ASP.NET developers knowing Web Forms or MVC but you can make your resume special with HTML5 and jQuery. This will give you a chance to standout from the rest of the crowd.

10. HTML5 is a living standard

HTML5 is a living standard. That means unlike other software products that become obsolete over a period of time, HTML5 will still be HTML in spite of new features that get added to it. So, even though HTML is given a version number of 5 it is still, and continue to be, HTML. It will never become "dead" as it happens with other software products or technologies. In other words what you learn today is going to have a much longer life than other software products. All you need to do is keep adding the new features to what you already know. If you take pain to learn HTML5 today the learning curve for tomorrow is going to be quite smooth.

To summarize - Learning HTML5 & jQuery is must for any ASP.NET developer who wants to stay ahead of the competition by learning cutting-edge standards of web development.


Bipin Joshi is an independent software consultant and trainer by profession specializing in Microsoft web development technologies. Having embraced the Yoga way of life he is also a yoga mentor, meditation teacher, and spiritual guide to his students. He is a prolific author and writes regularly about software development and yoga on his websites. He is programming, meditating, writing, and teaching for over 27 years. To know more about his private online courses on ASP.NET and meditation go here and here.

Posted On : 11 March 2013

Tags : ASP.NET jQuery JavaScript HTML5