HTML5 for enterprise: Confusion the biggest barrier #AppsWorld

For enterprise application development, choosing to write in HTML5 is an extremely big call to make. And, according to an expert panel at Apps World Europe, there’s still some way to go before the open standard is ready for the enterprise.

Martin Beeby, developer evangelist at Microsoft, argues that further clarification on HTML5 and JavaScript is needed for the enterprise customer base.

“The overwhelming perception I get from customers is utter confusion about what they’re doing,” he noted.

“If you pick a noun and add .js or .io, you’ll probably get a library. It’s extraordinarily confusing, and that’s the biggest problem,” he added.

Colin Eberhardt, the CTO of ShinobiControls at Scott Logic, added that using HTML5 is not in line with how large corporations conduct their business.

“The way enterprises generally work, they want a partner, Adobe, Microsoft; they want someone who they can give a lot of money to and get a shrink wrapped offering,” Eberhardt said.

He added: “With HTML5, there are very few companies you can go to, to solve all your HTML5 problems. That’s how enterprises work.”

Back in November, Magic Software UK MD David Akka, writing for Enterprise AppsTech, examined the pros and cons in the midst of Facebook’s U-turn on their HTML5 app.

Akka concluded that “as a reliable development tool for the enterprise, it will not be ready for another 2-4 years.

“Until then, HTML5 will remain best suited for the consumer applications and a ‘work in progress’ for the enterprise projects,” he added.

Yet Eberhardt noted that, in the midst of Mark Zuckerberg’s quote that Facebook’s biggest mistake was betting too much on HTML5, many forgot – or chose to ignore – the rest of his quote, whereby he said the company would come back to it later.

This sense of optimism was picked up on by the panel – but the overall feeling was that the positives about HTML5 doesn’t link in with the strengths of the enterprise.

HTML5, as Beeby noted, “lends itself very nicely to rapid development” – indeed, if you’re going to enter a hackathon, it’s not the worst bet to write in HTML5. But is that appropriate for enterprise, with stringent quality control? As Noel Massey, Motorola solutions architect put it: “it’s too easy to write bad code.”

One of the more pertinent statements in the session came from Eberhardt, who noted: “HTML5 is a compromise, and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.

“But compromise isn’t a bad thing – if it saves you a lot of money, compromise is great.”

With the archetypal image of CIOs and CFOs nervously looking at their balance sheets in mind, it’s certainly something of an advantage.

Yet the big takeaway, for enterprises who did still want to develop in HTML5, it’s all about testing and ironing out the kinks.

“For any enterprise HTML5 development, I would strongly urge people to prototype it, give it to the stakeholders, give it to the users, do user testing,” said Eberhardt, adding: “The user experience is typically where HTML5 apps suffer.”

Do you agree with the panel’s analysis?

 

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ChrisLove
24 Oct 2013, 2:51 p.m.

I have to disagree with most the points made in this article. I have built several small and large enterprise applications using HTML5 that target mobile up. The biggest barrier is the IT Pros in enterprises. They are forcing their companies to use outdated browser versions (looking at you IE8). Sometimes it is the company paying massive licensing fees to a 3rd party vendor that simply refuses to make their overpriced application modern. It's 2013, you need to purge that 5 year old browser. Would you use a 50 year old machine to make your product in a factory, seriously doubt it.

The IT side of the shop is costing the typical enterprise millions every year. Update, and we will make some awesome apps that will blow your socks off, for less than you think.

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codepo8
1 Nov 2013, 10:27 p.m.

My favourite part about discussions like these is the assumption that people like what is currently created with enterprise tools. When was the last time you met someone who didn't feel either boredom or dread using a ticketing system or a spreadsheet tool? On the other hand, how many people are happy to use much simpler and cleaner HTML5 based tools? A lot of this isn't about HTML5 as a technology, it is about defending a current state of affairs where building software is only allowed when you have a certificate by someone and use a 5 figure system to build it. Fact is that the enterprise has been complacent for a long time and hinders innovation by hiding behind process.

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FlexMonkey
2 Nov 2013, 7:50 a.m.

...and, of course, developers have to devote so much time fixing browser fragmentation issues that they lose time adding finesse to the interaction design.

What we need is a common runtime with a really nice set of layout and skinning libraries that lend themselves to creating great web based enterprise applications. Oh, wait, they already exist, but one vitriolic letter from a chap in a black polo neck caused a cascade of knee jerk reactions and we know find the web application landscape has returned to the last century!

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