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HTML5 drops the 5 to become an evolving standard

by Pete Mason on 24 January 2011, 15:33

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Oh, the ever evolving nature of the web. Just a few days after the W3C unveiled its shiny new branding for HTML5, WHATWG has announced that it will stop using numbered versions to better represent the evolving nature of the standard.

According to WHATWG's Ian Hickson, HTML5 was supposed to be finalised in 2012, but the rapidly changing nature of technology and the demands of the people who actually use it mean that new features would have to be added on a near continuous basis. For that reason, it makes a lot more sense to have the standard as a "living document" that can more easily be added to and updated.

The upshot of this is that HTML5 - which is both mature and increasingly popular - will no longer be considered a draft, and will simply become a part of the HTML standard.

This all gets a bit confusing because there appear to be two captains on the HTML-ship. The WHATWG (Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group) broke off from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in 2004 in response to the latter's glacial pace to accept changes. A few years later, members of WHATWG from Apple, Opera and Mozilla successfully presented the HTML5 spec back to the W3C HTML working group as a basis for its future standard. Although WHATWG 'steers' the specification, the W3C and its members actually maintain and develop it.

Treating the HTML spec as a living document that can more easily be updated seems like a positive move. However, it's not quite clear what this means for the W3C's efforts to present a unified branding under the HTML5 banner. Since the Consortium is waiting to see how the design is received, we get the feeling that it might not make it as the official logo.



HEXUS Forums :: 7 Comments

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Treating the HTML spec as a living document that can more easily be updated seems like a positive move.

Except for developers who are trying to make sure that their websites meet an ever-changing standard, of course ;) :p There needs to be some kind of standards path and some reassurance for web devs that their fully-compliant site today will still be fully-compliant in a couple of year's time, rather than have the standards changed within months and need to be constantly redeveloping just to maintain compliance. I wouldn't like to see a standard where items were inserted and removed every few months as fashions in web development change…
Yay for shooting moving targets! Always fun, that.
I think it means that they can add things rather than go back and make changes.
BullDogg
I think it means that they can add things rather than go back and make changes.

I'm sure that's the intention, but if you have a standard that only gets added to it will quickly become bloated and unwieldy (and you'll end up with the possibility of two wildly different implementations which are both “standards compliant”). So at some point there has to be the facility to deprecate and remove things, and the question is how that's going to be managed. Also having a standard that's easy to add to means it's just as easy to make a bad addition as a good one. I'm all for the idea that the standards path needs to move quicker (after all, we're effectively still conforming to HTML4, which is - what, 12 years old now? More?), but the concept of a “living” standards document rings all my alarm bells…
scaryjim
I'm sure that's the intention, but if you have a standard that only gets added to it will quickly become bloated and unwieldy (and you'll end up with the possibility of two wildly different implementations which are both “standards compliant”). So at some point there has to be the facility to deprecate and remove things, and the question is how that's going to be managed. Also having a standard that's easy to add to means it's just as easy to make a bad addition as a good one. I'm all for the idea that the standards path needs to move quicker (after all, we're effectively still conforming to HTML4, which is - what, 12 years old now? More?), but the concept of a “living” standards document rings all my alarm bells…

quite, its better to have them identifiable so at least developers know whats what. sounds like no version control will be applied at all?

bit like freeview in uk, now half the older boxes wont work or are limited to now/next epg… yet all comply to standards, just the standards have been altered or evolved with little regard to proper control!