There's been some exciting progress on the HTLM5 site publishing project. The black ops dev team have been squirreling away to rewrite how your sites are published and adding in, bit by bit, the features to support full HTML5 site views.

The story so far

Just to recap, we started work on this in 2010, by rewriting the way we stored your site contents, e.g. text, images, links, etc. We wanted to abstract the content from the design so we could choose to display the sites differently for different platforms. The first task was mobile displays using HTML5, which we did in Mar 2011, and then updated last month with our new mobile editor, giving you greater design and layout flexibility for the mobile version.

Mobile editor in action

But the biggest bit of work has always been the full site HTML5. Not only was it a more complicated job to make the sites identical in Flash and HTML, but we also wanted to wait for HTML5 to be more widely adopted to ensure a consistent experience for your visitors (as it is only fully supported on the most modern browsers). In January we showed you a preview of sites in HTML5, and showed you how this compared to Flash, and now automating this process for all sites is starting to come together.

How it will work

Pretty much the same. The great thing is that the edit tools you know and love will stay exactly the same. You will continue to edit your sites using our existing software, but we'll add the ability to publish the end result in HTML5, rather than the usual Flash. As we highlighted in the first article, some elements may need some tweaking by you (e.g. Fonts) to ensure they will look the same in each environment, but once that's done the experience will be the same in HTML5 from then onwards.

Where we are

We've tied together the editor with some of the core elements of a webpage which are now showing in HTML5 rather than Flash. This includes, text, images, some graphic elements and the page structure itself. Here's a little video of how it's currently working and some of the things you can do.

Here's a screen grabs of the same site on an iPad. So you can see it's very much the same :-)

HTML5IpadPreview.jpg IPad view in HTML5

But there's still a way to go, which is why this won't be released until later in the year, with end Q3 our target. We've got to tie back in the menus, the blog, the shop, HTML widgets (shouldn't be too hard, they're HTML already!), and lots of other bits and pieces.

Many of you have asked about how this will affect the load time of sites, which should also be much faster as we'll share the hard work between our big servers and the HTML rendering skills of modern browsers. So great news there too. (You can see the difference in load time in the video).

So that's it for now. We'll tell you more when we've got more to show you, but we're super excited about these changes and working hard to get them to you as fast as we can!