HTML5 Completion Date Announced

If you’ve been avoiding HTML5 because its specification is a draft document, you’ll be pleased to hear the W3C has announced a completion date. Mark July 2014 in your diary as the date HTML5 will finally become an official W3C Recommendation. (Note I’m referring to HTML5 as a real technology rather than the all-encompassing “HTML5 is CSS3 is JavaScript is a Flash killer” marketing nonsense!)

However, there’s a date approaching which is more important. May 22, 2011 has been confirmed as the “Last Call” — after that time, no new features will be added to the HTML5 specification.

During the next three years, the W3C will:

  1. Review all comments. The consortium is expecting considerable feedback from the Last Call and it’s likely to result in further revisions to the HTML5 specification.
  2. Create an HTML5 test suite to help vendors fulfill the W3C’s criteria. An official suite will also help developers build HTML5 content and applications. We will be able to rely on independent implementation results rather than exaggerated feature spin emanating from vendor marketing departments. An early version of the test suite is available now, but it’s a work in progress and you should not rely on the results.

Does the Completion Date Matter?

From a pure development perspective, the completion date makes no difference whatsoever. Most browsers already support some HTML5 features. There’s also no guarantee the feature you want will be fully implemented after July 2014. Developers have always picked technologies with care and, when necessary, used shims, alternative content or graceful degradation for browsers which do not support it. That situation won’t change no matter what label is slapped on the spec: you can use HTML5 today.

That said, the completion date may reassure those who consider HTML5 to be vaporware. In software engineering terms, “draft specification” equates to “not ready for production.” However, when referring to a W3C document, the “draft” label means the specification isn’t necessarily complete, but each feature has been implemented in at least two browsers and may already be viable. The confusion permeates through the industry and is one of the reasons WHATWG dropped the HTML version number.

The Future of HTML

HTML5 logoHTML is an evolving standard. W3C members are already considering improvements for future versions under the working title “HTML.next.” So don’t ignore HTML5 for the next three years — the industry will have moved to the next iteration by 2014!

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  • atomekk

    Is IE9 a modern browser?
    http://people.mozilla.com/~prouget/ie9/

    • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

      Mmm. This has been doing the rounds today and while I agree IE9 is missing several key HTML5 features, it’s not been released yet and the title is a little inflammatory. The author is also a Mozilla Evangelist, so he’s hardly unbiased.

      Microsoft has made exaggerated and misleading claims but, ultimately, they’re in business to sell their wares and make a profit. It’s sales speak but I hope most people in the profession can see through that.

      • Ryan Gasparini

        Even though he is a Mozilla Evangelist, I am glad that at least someone is doing their homework. We’ve been waiting many years for IE to join the standards conversation and yet again they detract and defer by grandstanding their broken promise of 99~100% HTML5 compatibility. I would be happy with those numbers in CSS2 and/or DOM events that have been supported for years by Webkit, Mozilla and Opera.

      • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

        We all know Microsoft’s idea of “full standards support” is different to everyone elses. However, I think it’s a little premature to start bashing IE9 — the browser’s not been released (although there’s a rumor that it’s imminent).

        Personally, I don’t mind IE9.0 missing a few key features if MS speed up their ridiculous 2-year schedule and release 9.1 within a few months. Oh yeah, XP support would be great too.

  • Jim

    Does HTML 6 rumors start May 22, 2011?

    • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

      I reckon so! By the time HTML5 is “complete” the industry will have moved on to the next big thing. And we’ll all be driving hover cars and living on the moon.

  • Anonymous

    Did you not read ” HTML.next “

    • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

      That’s only the working title. It could be named HTML6, HTML5.1, HTML2020, HTML Vista or plain old HTML if WHATWG get their way.

  • McBenny

    People at the W3C are likely to be respectable elderly people !
    In 2 years, Chrome has passed from no existence to version 9. Even MS has released almost to major browser versions.
    Now that HTML5 has become a big noise into the masses, they give us a logo and 3 weeks later they say : “Hey, we’re working and you’ll be delivered in 3 years!”. WTF ?!
    I think this release date is just stupid. In 3 years, we’ll be ages away from HTML5, vendors will have almost fully implemented their vision of HTML5 and proposed their own new killing features not supported by other vendors (remember marquees, spacers, object/embed… ?).
    Can anyone imagine that Google will implement HTML5 features before the end of this year and will wait for 3 years to go further ?
    I think it’s the best planning to kill HTML5.