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Web Guru
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Get to know the web, like never before.
Get to know the web, like never before.

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Much of the excitement we’ve seen so far about HTML5 has been for the new APIs: local storage, application cache, Web workers, 2-D drawing and the like. But let’s not overlook that HTML5 brings us 30 new elements to mark up documents and applications, boosting the total number of elements available to us to over 100.

Sexy yet hollow demos aside, even the most JavaScript-astic Web 2.0-alicious application will likely have textual content that needs to be marked up sensibly, so let’s look at some of the new elements to make sure that your next project is as semantic as it is interactive.

To keep this article from turning into a book, we won’t look at each in depth. Instead, this is a taster menu: you can see what’s available, and there are links that I’ve vetted for when you want to learn more.

Along the way, we’ll see that HTML5 semantics are carefully designed to extend the current capabilities of HTML, while always enabling users of older browsers to access the content. We’ll also see that semantic markup is not “nice to have,” but is rather a cornerstone of Web development, because it is what enhances accessibility, searchability, internationalization and interoperability.

A human language like English, with its vocabulary of a million words, can’t express every nuance of thought unambiguously, so with only 100 or so words that we can use in HTML, there will be situations when it’s not clear-cut which element to use for which piece of content. In that case, choose one; be consistent across the site.

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