There has been a long standing demand for making offline web application use easier. With the advent of HTML5 that wait is finally over.
Application cache and offline storage is an important feature of the HTML5 specs released till date.
The feature enables web pages, applications and emails to be stored on your computer for quick retrieval at your convenience. So you don’t need to be online to use web based tools or applications.
New age innovation
HTML5 features like the application cache will transform the way websites are designed in the future. This feature has currently occupied center stage with the release of the Apple iPad. The best devices to try out the application cache functions currently are the Apple iPhone and the recently released iPad. Both devices utilize Safari as the default browser which supports HTML5.
Most of the major browsers have added support for HTML5. These include the above mentioned Safari as well as Chrome, Firefox, IE8 and Opera.
How it works
Designers can now mark files which are to be cached or stored by the browser. Files can be static text documents, images, videos and various other types. Currently, if you click refresh in your browser, cached data is lost or overwritten. Now you need not worry about losing your cached data if you accidentally hit the refresh tab while browsing offline.
Web designers manually create a manifest file specifying which files of visited web pages are to be stored by the browser. The browser then goes ahead and caches the files making it easier to use web applications or view web pages offline.
For example you utilize a web application to perform accounting work the details of which are displayed on your website. With HTML5 you can easily make the changes offline and the data would be synchronized once you are online. So you don’t need to stay connected nor have to bother with file uploads every time an update is to be done.
HTML5 application cache benefits in short
Offline surfing: Get access to previously viewed web content without any browsing or network connection limitations.
Faster downloads: Thanks to the caching feature, web pages and applications will load faster. So the next time you access any site whether offline or online your browser will process the download speedily.
Efficient server-browser interaction: Your browser will update cached files if any changes are made at the server end. This means your cached files will remain in sync with the original files every time you log on to a website or utilize any web tools online.
Structured data storage: The feature utilizes an SQL database to address issues related to viewing emails locally or browsing dynamic sites like eCommerce shopping carts. Now you can easily add items to your shopping cart, create wish lists, read product reviews while offline without being rushed.
To conclude, the HTML5 application cache functionality offers flexibility to both designers in building websites and web users in offline browsing. This development has great potential to integrate the online and offline browsing experience in many interesting ways. It will significantly change the way we experience the Internet today.