In case you've been living under a rock for the last year or so, Google is really, really excited about HTML 5. Why wouldn't Google be excited about HTML 5?
The Web is both Google's playground and its business. HTML 5 is the next-generation Web language Web programmers need to hew closely to it to innovate online in the future. Some believe Google bought On2 Technologies with an eye toward open sourcing its video compression codecs to serve as the bedrock for video in HTML 5.
I spoke last week with Rishi Chandra, senior product manager for collaboration in the Google Apps team. He was talking about the future of Google Apps such as the Docs word processing app and the Sites wiki, and we weren't even in the Q&A session when he said:
"The browser technology itself is going through massive innovation, whether it be Google Chrome, or the next Safari or the next Firefox. We believe that HTML 5 is going to jump-start a huge new wave of innovation. If you think of Gmail as the one that really started the AJAX model of more rich apps, we think HTML 5 is going to be that significant of a bump in terms of new capabilities and technology that can be put in the browser itself, which is going to enable this new rich collaboration going forward."
So Google is counting on HTML 5 for improved collaboration. I later asked Chandra what a completed HTML 5 spec would enable Google Apps to do to for collaboration. I was referring to the Apps products at hand, such as Docs and Wiki, but he pointed straight to Google Wave, an HTML 5-based platform built on Google Web Toolkit.
"From the collaborative standpoint, you've seen Wave. Wave is based on HTML 5 and is pushing the boundaries of what HTML 5 can do. There are a couple things it does that makes the bridge between client applications and Web applications minimal. An example is the full, real-time aspect, which Wave demonstrated at Google I/O, where I can type a letter and everyone else in the document can see that letter, or multiple people can start typing and see their content. Those are examples where Wave has shown what HMTL 5 can do when you push the boundaries of the technology."
Chandra also referenced HTML 5's ability to do more advanced vector-based graphics in the browser window, something that is quite limited in HTML 4, as well as a native browser caching function.
I'm embedding the Wave demo from Google I/O here because it's a great presentation and worth the time. I've played with it, and once the bugs are squashed it will be golden.
Let me back up a bit. I didn't ask Chandra specifically about HTML 5 and Wave; I asked him about Google's future use of HTML 5 in Google Apps. The fact that he mentioned the Wave platform tells you that Google is looking at Wave as an integral part of Apps in the future.
Chandra said users can expect a two-way street when it comes to Google Apps and Wave, which is set to roll out for 100,000 users to test on Sept. 30. He took care to point out that Google Wave was a platform, while Google Apps is a suite of apps.
The apps may be used in Wave. For example, imagine pulling documents from Google Docs to be shared and co-edited with co-workers. Alternately, some of Wave may be used in Apps. Imagine rich, real-time editing from Wave in Google Sites.
"It's an experiment for us but ... what we'll find is a continuum where Wave will integrate with Google Apps, or we'll take the technology from Wave and embed it directly into the applications themselves," Chandra said.
Teaser alert: Chandra had more to say about HTML 5 and other collaboration topics, which I will lay out in a Q&A this coming week.