This story was written by Keith Dawson for UBM DeusM’s community Web site Develop in the Cloud, sponsored by AT&T. It is archived here for informational purposes only because the Develop in the Cloud site is no more. This material is Copyright 2012 by UBM DeusM.

HTML5 and the Hype Cycle

Gartner's annual Hype Cycle report misses the boat on HTML5.

Gartner's annual Hype Cycle report is out, and while it offers solid guidance and food for thought on many technologies, it misses badly on the subject of HTML5.

A post up at the Ness Software Engineering Services Blog alerted me to the most recent Gartner Hype Cycle report, which has just come out.

In case you weren't aware, Gartner has been releasing these reports since 1995 in order to help their clients decide the optimum times for getting on board with new technologies as they mature. Gartner tracks buzzwords as the technologies they represent go through the predictable cycle of introduction, inflated expectations, inevitable disappointment, dawning hopefulness, and eventual widespread adoption. In the full report, available to paying subscribers, Gartner claims to track over 1,900 technologies as they traverse this curve.


In this thumbnail of the Hype Cycle illustration, I have circled HTML5 in red. It is placed just before the Peak of Inflated Expectations. Here is a link to a larger version of this illustration.

According to Gartner, HTML5 is 5 to 10 years from widespread and productive adoption. This simply can't be right. Anyone who has touched the HTML behind a Website or Web app in the last three years has, most likely, added some features from the superset that goes by the moniker "HTML5" (which is not yet officially standardized). Whether it is smaller features such as rounded corners on rectangles, transparency, or transformations, or larger ones such as canvas, media queries, Web sockets, or SVG -- it's the rare Website or app that is innocent of HTML5.

Gartner discourages looking at single technologies in isolation, and instead recommends considering groupings of technologies maturing together (albeit sometimes at different rates). In this context, they group HTML5 with a clutch of technologies related to the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) tidal wave. This is altogether too narrow a reading of the areas which HTML5 touches.

The Ness blog quotes Todd Anglin, vice president for HTML5 Web and Mobile Tools at toolmaker Telerik, as saying that the evolution of HTML5 is "happening at breakneck speed" due to the unprecedented level of accord among all the big players in the tech industry.

Anglin also points out that the 5-to-10-year window in the latest Hype Cycle report is at odds with other recent research out of the selfsame Gartner: "The 2012 Gartner Mobile Magic Quadrant report plainly states that 80 percent of all mobile apps will use HTML5 by 2015, a mere three years from now. Gartner is sending mixed messages with these reports, further underscoring the challenge of properly estimating the success of HTML5."

What's your take? Is Gartner simply off base on the subject of HTML5?