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Q&A with Tombolas’ Web Development Team about Making games for HTML5

[ 0 ] Posted by on December 3, 2012

HTML5 future

Getting big companies to talk about their experience with website development and emerging trends is anything but easy. E-mails often bounce back, questions regularly get ignored, and within the bingo industry specifically things are almost always less than transparent. It surprised me for the better then when tombola’s website development team spared me a bit of time to ask a few questions about how HTML5 has affected the way in which they create games, the backbone to their whole operation, and how HTML5 will develop in the future to allow them and other businesses within their niche to optimize projects and provide a better all round experience for gamers.

1) What have you been able to achieve using HTML5 that may not have been possible on other platforms?

By using HTML5 we can provide support for multiple mobile platforms like Android, iOS and BlackBerry directly through the web browser. This gives us the benefit of only having to maintain one common code base. We are also able to provide different user interfaces to the games based on the type of device (i.e. mobile or tablet) and use CSS to provide custom styling for different game types, all using the same foundation.

2) Did you experience any problems when using the HTML 5? What were initial impressions?

Given the range of different devices on the marketplace today and the varying levels of web browser support for HTML5, we knew this approach was not going to be clear sailing all the way for the type of games we produce. The biggest challenges are probably related to the amount of memory available in mobile browsers, as this is considerably less than would be available to a native application. We need to optimise both the CSS and JavaScript in order to keep the footprint low, as well take advantage of caching to save on bandwidth. Using HTML5 Audio has also been a big challenge, although this is becoming a lot easier now using the new Web Audio API.

3) When did you first consider using HTML 5? What first made you opt for using it instead of apps?

Speed to market was a decisive factor in choosing HTML5. Using the web browser and HTML5 gives us the capability to provide mobile gaming to our existing customer base far quicker than we would with a native app. It also meant we can issue updates and bug fixes much faster than waiting in a queue for an app store approval process.

4) What, if anything, would you like to see included in future versions of HTML? Is there anything that could be improved?

There are always things that need improving. The new Web Audio API finally seems to be living up to expectations for providing HTML5 games, which has long been a point of difficulty for HTML5. I would also like to see better cross browser support for both Web Workers and Web Sockets. An easier way to keep track of and help manage memory in the web browser would also be a welcome addition.

5) Do you think HTML 5 will be the standard tool for developing cross-platform optimised projects? Or will developers stick with the current version for the foreseeable future?

HTML5 is a constantly evolving specification, so there is no real set time to switch as it just depends upon the requirements of your project. Given the ability to feature detect what API’s a web browser has, and provide suitable fall back where applicable – anyone can start using HTML5 right now.

6) How do you hope users will react to HTML 5 developed applications? Any feedback so far?

So far feedback from players has been fantastic and the daily numbers show high play rate, which is very encouraging. Due to native applications, the expectations over mobile gaming are higher than ever. Browser based games will always have some catching up to do, but we work hard to provide the best level of experience we can for the players. We are also able to react quickly to any feedback to get features in.

7) Are there any other developments that you plan on incorporating into your future project campaigns? What current developments could benefit the tombola project if you had the chance to work them into the developments?

As we come to work on new mobile games we will always look to incorporate new API’s and features as and when they become supported in web browsers. Features that leverage new capabilities can then be incorporated into the code base for existing games and updated for the players alongside new releases.

8) What potential does HTML 5 have? Will it yield new developments or improve current standards, or will it achieve both?

I think HTML5 has a lot of potential down the road. While the standardisation process is sometimes slow, the technology race between mobile companies such as Apple and Google is accelerating requirements for, and the development of new features. I think much of the future of the internet is invested in mobile.

9) What do you think the internet will be like if all sites were HTML5?  How will it be different from what the internet is like today?

Not that much different from today really – all a website needs to be `HTML5` is the correct doctype (just a single line of code). It’s the immediacy of new interactive, visual features delivered via JavaScript API’s and CSS modules that will stand out to the users. Adobe is working on some really nice new CSS specifications ( that will enhance the layout and presentation of websites significantly, and new specifications such as WebRTC ( will also open new features for real-time communication in the browser.

10)   Can you foresee anything coming after HTML5? What would it look like? And ideally what would you like it to be able to do?

The HTML5 spec is on track to be finished by the W3C by 2014, with a newer HTML5.1 spec to be delivered by 2016. There will always be new features and API’s coming out, but one thing I would like to see pushed forward is an improved revision of the HTML5 Application Cache specification, as the existing implementation is a bit lacking and difficult to debug.

A big thank you to tombola for giving us their time to ask a few questions surrounding HTML5 and their industry. You can view any of the latest HTML5 developed games by simply going to

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About Jakk: Jakk Ogden is the founder of Technology Blogged. 25, with a love for good writing, you'll find Jakk playing 'Drag Racing' on his Nexus 5 and rocking a pair of Grado headphones. If you love technology, be sure to subscribe to his feed for unique editorials. View author profile.

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