HTML5 will improve real estate websites

Bringing multimedia, interactive forms, and drag and drop to mobile devices

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I’m excited to speak at Real Estate Connect in San Francisco this year.

My topic is "HTML5 vs. Flash: Is Flash Dead? Part Two."

HTML5 — the latest version of the instructions commonly used to design website content, HyperText Markup Language — is critical for serving up video, audio and interactive content to users of Apple’s mobile devices including the iPhone and iPad, which don’t support Flash.

When I spoke at Connect New York City in January on this very topic, standards were being incorporated as I spoke. In fact, while I was on the train coming into the city, Google announced that its Chrome browser would no longer support the video codec H.264 that Apple utilizes and opted to embrace the open source video codec’s WebM and Theora. Many industry pundits considered this move by Google to be a step backwards for HTML5 and cross-platform video, which had been gathering considerable momentum.

The general consensus of the session was that HTML5 certainly had great potential. But many thought Adobe Flash was so integrated into the fabric of the Web that it wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Technology advances quickly, and just six months later, I’m tremendously optimistic that HTML5 with CSS3 and JavaScript could have a profound impact on creating and delivering content.

Here’s a look at three HTML5 features that will not only improve the user experience on your real estate website but work across multiple devices such as smartphones and tablets. Please note: Not all Web browsers will support these examples.

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Multimedia

Delivering creative, rich content on real estate websites with HTML5 will look fantastic and work across multiple devices. It will also allow publishers to embed photos, video and audio to create sophisticated animations without utilizing Adobe Flash. Here’s a wonderful example of a full-screen slideshow of New York with HTML5 audio developed by the Web development blog Codrops.

Forms

Forms are an essential feature on any real estate website, and we use a variety of them for scheduling showings, requesting additional information, and enabling users to contact us. HTML5 allows for feature-rich forms that are more elegant and interactive than traditional forms. They are also easier to create for a developer. Here’s an example of HTML5 form developed by Flowplayer. Just click the "See it in action" button. This is a sleek form with a super slick calendar feature that would be a perfect call-to-action form for scheduling a showing!

Drag and Drop

Drag and drop is an HTML5 feature that allows a user to select and drag an element on a Web page. In the past, this act was accomplished by utilizing complex libraries such as JQuery. HTML5 simplifies this process greatly. I’m excited about the possibilities of drag and drop, especially with the potential it has to enhance interactivity. The possibility of adding drag and drop to a traditional property alert module or other consumer tools such as open house tours is certainly exciting. Here’s an example of a drag and drop module developed by Bruce Lawson and Remy Sharp for their book entitled, "Introducing HTML5."

As we transition to the post-PC era, HTML5 will play a definitive roll. It is slated to be recommended by the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) in July 2014. What is the future of Adobe Flash? What impact will HTML5 have on app development? These are certainly going to be hot topics over the next year.

Tom Flanagan is the director of information technology at Residential Properties Ltd. in Providence, R.I. You can contact him at tflanagan@residentialproperties.com or @tflan on Twitter.

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