By Matthew Magain

HTML 5 Spec Released, Warts and All

By Matthew Magain

The W3C released the first draft of the HTML5 spec yesterday — warts and all. As far as technical specifications go, it’s pretty interesting reading.

A large part of what is interesting is what is new in everybody’s favourite markup language:

  • header, nav, article, dialog, section, aside, and footer elements
  • The canvas element (shameless plug: there’s an awesome chapter about it in our latest book)
  • Inclusion of the video and audio elements
  • Support for persistent client-side data storage
  • Support for users to edit documents and parts of documents interactively
  • RSS feeds as part of the page’s markup

It’s just as interesting noting what’s missing:

  • frame and frameset (hooray!)
  • font (cheer!)
  • applet, among others

Rumour has it that one faction of the HTML working group were lobbying hard to have the meta tag removed in order to prevent Microsoft from hijacking it, but they were clearly unsuccessful.

Check out the list of differences between HTML4 and HTML5 if you find the thought of tackling the entire spec a little daunting.

For me, what really makes the spec an entertaining read, however, is the fact that so many of the review comments for areas that are still problematic, are still in place. There is obviously still a fair amount of work ahead, though, if the following is anything to go by:


  • Joe C

    God, I still hate those new tags (,,). All this work to make your HTML semantic, all the years talking about it, I just feel this spec is a GIGANTIC step backwards for semantic markup.

  • Jamie

    Joe C: how are tags like “header”, “nav” and “footer” NOT semantic?

  • Leafnode

    Why the hell would anyone to include rss data into pages?

  • Anonymous

    it looks more and more like LaTeX with those article and section tags.

  • scott

    I think the most interesting thing is the ‘phrase elements’ section, listing new uses for the b and i tags:

    “The i element represents a span of text in an alternate voice or mood, or otherwise offset from the normal prose, such as a taxonomic designation, a technical term, an idiomatic phrase from another language, a thought, a ship name, or some other prose whose typical typographic presentation is italicized.”

    “The b element represents a span of text to be stylistically offset from the normal prose without conveying any extra importance, such as key words in a document abstract, product names in a review, or other spans of text whose typical typographic presentation is boldened.”

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