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Is HTML5 the answer?

For many years developers who wanted a rich user experience relied on Windows or the Macintosh OS to provide those capabilities.  

Then the Web happened. 

HTML, the language that web browsers relied on, didn't support much of anything besides text and static images. Adobe filled the gap with its Flash authoring tools and runtime--it filled the gap so well that for a time Flash was the most ubiquitious add-in on desktop and laptop computers. 

But Flash had its own set of problems, enough that Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, famously ranted against it in April 2010. Flash was unreliable, Jobs said, and created an unwelcome dependency on third party tools that Apple could not accept (and so there was no Flash support on iPhones or iPads). Jobs wasn't alone: Web developers wanted an HTML standard that had native support for rich applications. Suddenly all kinds of devices were connected to the Internet, including smartphones, tablets, e-book readers, televisions, and more. Developers could no longer count on a given operating system on any platform their application might need to run on; the one thing they could count on was a browser would probably render it. 

HTML5, that long-awaited standard, was the answer, and eventually even Adobe acknowledged it, saying that HTML5 was the future and they would stop developing Flash for mobile devices. But HTML isn't finished, although on Dec. 17, 2012, the Worldwide Web Consortium announced a key milestone: the HTML5 specification is complete, so developers can now know what they are working towards. 

And even though HTML5 is a work in progress, all major browsers support it (Edge, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and others), Google built an HTML5 version of YouTube, and developers such as Rovio and Pandora rebuilt their applications to use HTML5.

What about Facebook?

HTML5 suffered a bit of a PR black eye when Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, said their attempt to create mobile versions of Facebook using HTML5 was a mistake. But was it? In hindsight, a commercial application like Facebook probably deserves its own native version on every platform it will target. But even if HTML5 was the platform of choice, it's not clear that Facebook's failure was the platform's fault. Sencha looked carefully at how to implement Facebook using HTML5, even going so far as to create their own version. You can read about it here.

HTML5 and Legacy Applications

HTML5 may be fine for Angry Birds and music players, but what about more mundane (and potentially valuable) line of business (LOB) applications, many of which are written in client-server architectures in languages such as Visual Basic, PowerBuilder, or Informix?

Let's look at Visual Basic (VB). The last version of Visual Basic was 6.0, released in 1998. In 2008 Microsoft formally announced the end of support for VB, and that runtime support will end in 2017). Approximately 24 billion lines of VB code have been written, making it by that metric the most popular application development platform for Windows. But running critical business apps written in VB6 more than 20 years after it was released creates problems and exposes organizations to security vulnerabilities, increased maintenance/support costs, and regulatory non-compliance. A more recent set of problems stems from the "bring your own device (BYOD)" paradigm, where users increasingly want to access LOB applications from smart phones, tablets, and any browser anywhere. 

Porting legacy applications to HTML5 solves all these problems, but three significant hurdles must be overcome:

  • Code written in VB must be transformed into other programming languages, including Javascript, HTML, ASP.NET, and C++ or C# for server-side components.
  • Client-server applications must be re-architected to work well on web browsers where local data storage and server round-trips become issues.
  • User interface (UI) and user experience (UX) can vary widely from a browser on a laptop to a smartphone. Separating the presentation of the application from the business logic and interface-handling code is critical to a rich user experience.

MobilizeNet-html5-w10-css3.pngHTML5 and Mobilize.Net

Mobilize.Net is the only solution available that combines automated source code conversion with automated refactoring.

  • WebMAP (Modernization Acceleration Program) from Mobilize.Net can seamlessly move VB6 code to C# and then to HTML5, converting as much as 95 percent of source code in Visual Basic to maintainable source code in HTML5, Javascript, ASP.NET, and C# (see below).
  • WebMAP refactors client server applications to place business logic on the server (converted to C# and ASP.NET) and user presentation on the client (using HTML5 and Javascript). This creates a portable application that can be deployed on virtually any device with an HTML5-compatible browser.
  • WebMAP re-architects applications into Model View Controller (MVC), separating the UI/UX from handling code and business logic. This not only improves performance, it also makes the application perfectly portable and allows for easy changes in look and feel by a simple CSS (cascading style sheets) modification.
  • WebMAP's patent-pending automation technology is the evolution of the Visual Basic Upgrade Companion, itself responsible for converting billions of lines of VB code to .NET over more than a decade. It is this underlying technology that allows WebMAP projects to demonstrate dramatic savings over manual rewrites of VB applications, both in time and money.

For a detailed proposal to convert your legacy applications to HTML5 (or .NET), please contact us today.