If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: HTML5’s primary advantage is reach. It runs everywhere.

It’s on the back of this lone competitive advantage that HTML5 has radically transformed the software development landscape and found its way in to everything from modern websites to mobile apps. With the focus on making HTML, JavaScript, and CSS fully capable languages, designed to meet the needs of modern app development, and with runtimes racing for the performance crown, HTML5 has ushered in a new era of “write once(ish), run everywhere.”

And unlike the plug-in dependent attempts at this in the past (Java, Flash, Silverlight), HTML5 looks like it actually has the right stuff to fulfill this long desired software capability. It also has the right industry support, with investment from all of the major tech players: Google, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Adobe, Mozilla, SAP, Oracle, HP, and even Facebook.

It’s ironic, then, that in all of this progress, one of the few places we don’t find major use of HTML5 to build apps is on the desktop!

Sure, browsers run on the desktop, and there are plenty of web apps using HTML5 to deliver experiences via the browser. But browsers are a “shell” full of implied meaning. Any app run in a browser automatically triggers all of an user’s expectations about how browsers work: back button, history, links, address bars, and so on.

It’s time to break free from the “browser” and use HTML5 to build modern desktop apps. The desktop has become the (first) and final frontier for HTML5 to show its usefulness.

Enter Chrome Packaged Apps

HTML5 takes another huge step forward with Chrome Packaged Apps. Packaged Apps open-up the desktop to HTML5 developers. Reusing all of the skills mastered for the web and mobile, Packaged Apps empowers developers to create complete app experiences that can be run anywhere you find Chrome: Windows, Mac, Linux, and, of course, Chrome OS!

These apps do not run in a “browser.” They run as independent, standalone apps with their own shell. Chrome powers the entire experience, but for users, Packaged Apps are not a browser experience. They’re an app experience.

Put succinctly, Packaged Apps enable an experience as capable as a “native” app, but as safe as a web page. They’re cool, and at Kendo UI, we’re really excited about the possibilities they unlock.

See It In Action: Chrome Camera

This all sounds nice, but what can you really achieve with Chrome Packaged Apps?

We had the opportunity to put Packaged Apps to the test in a recent project conducted for Google. Google wanted a fun camera app for Chrome OS and they turned to Kendo UI to build a Packaged App that showcases the power of the platform and HTML5. The app uses Kendo UI throughout, naturally, and uses many other neat Chrome Packaged App and HTML5 APIs to build a dynamic, rich, app that any user can pick-up and have fun using.

We’re also really proud to say that this app ships by default now on all Chrome OS devices. Pick-up a Chromebook or Chromebox and you’ll see it there. You’ll soon also be able to easily grab this from Google’s app store so you can launch it via any Chrome browser, but here’s a quick video preview of what the app does if you don’t have a Chrome OS device handy:

Remember, it’s all done with HTML, JavaScript, and CSS (including the webcam effects, live previews, image saving, and so on). Is it the most complex app in the world? No. But it does clearly demonstrate how “desktop” app experiences are now possible with Chrome Packaged Apps and powerful frameworks like Kendo UI.

With this one app, I can reach users on Chrome OS devices, Mac, Windows, and Linux directly. And since the foundations of the app are HTML, JavaScript, and CSS, much of the code could be reused to even reach users on other platforms like Windows 8, iOS, and Android.

(Kudos Pause: Special props to @BurkeHolland for his tireless work on Chrome Camera, along with the intrepid developers and designers on Telerik’s Professional Services team!)

Build Your Own App

This is just the beginning. While the Camera app is cool, we really want to see what you can build using Packaged Apps and Kendo UI.

To help you get started, we’re co-hosting a special webcast tomorrow (Wednesday, Dec 5) with Google that will get you ready to build your first Packaged App. Chrome Developer Advocate Paul Kinlan will join Kendo UI Dev Advocate Burke Holland to take you from n00b to hax0r in 60 minutes. We’ll also be giving away 10 Chromebooks to randomly lucky attendees, so don’t miss all the fun and register for the event right now!

Finally, we’ve also compiled a special page on KendoUI.com to help Chrome Packaged App developers. Check it out and stay tuned for even more updates as we work hard to make the lives of Packaged App developers easier.

Conquer the Final Frontier

If you’re already using HTML5 to build websites, web apps, and mobile apps, why ignore it for desktop apps? Conquer the final frontier of HTML5 development and fully realize the benefits of creating software using the same skills for all platforms. Chrome Packaged Apps is a gateway to getting your software in front of users, and Kendo UI is a productivity multiplier in a box, designed to help you build better apps faster.

What do you think? Are you as excited as we are about the possibility of unifying all apps under the HTML5 umbrella? Personally, I can’t wait to start creating apps for Windows, Mac, and Chrome OS using the developer skills I’ve already mastered.

Register for Kendo UI/Google Packaged Apps Webcast (Weds, Dec 5 @ 11:00 AM PST)


About the Author

Todd Anglin

is an avid HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript advocate, and geek about all things web development. He is an active speaker and author, helping developers around the world learn and adopt HTML5. Todd works for Telerik as VP of HTML5 Web & Mobile Tools, where his current technical focus is on Kendo UI. Todd is @toddanglin on Twitter

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