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HTML5 is Feature Complete. Hello HTML5.1!

By Craig Buckler
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HTML5 logoThe world may end on Friday, but at least all web-based doomsday announcements can be coded according to the finalized HTML5 specification!

The W3C HTML5 and Canvas 2D Context Specifications became Candidate Recommendations on December 17, 2012. While there remain a number logistical hoops to jump through before they hit Recommendation status in mid 2014, the specifications can be considered “feature complete”. Nothing more will be added other than fine-tuning owing to interoperability or performance issues.

So how does this affect your day-to-day web development?

It doesn’t — and never has. HTML5 has been viable for several years and the specification status makes little difference to real-world coding practices. HTML4.01 achieved Recommendation status on Christmas Eve 1999, but it doesn’t follow that all browsers support all features. A ‘completed’ specification is no substitute for rigorous browser testing.

HTML5 is more recent and less stable but new elements will usually fallback to something sensible, e.g. <input type="email" /> will render as <input type="text" /> in older browsers.

However, the announcement will break a few psychological barriers. Those who have been avoiding HTML5 because the specification was a draft now have fewer excuses.

HTML5.1 is the Future!

The W3C has provided a couple of shiny new specifications:

You won’t find anything revolutionary just yet, but additional HTML and canvas features will appear in these documents as we move forward.

Fortunately, this means you can claim HTML5.1-compliance for your existing sites and patronize those sticking to the ‘quaint’ HTML5 standard! Place HTML5.1 skills on your résumé and LinkedIn profile — you’ll be inundated with job offers from employers who want a meaningless marketing advantage over their competitors.

Craig is a freelance UK web consultant who built his first page for IE2.0 in 1995. Since that time he's been advocating standards, accessibility, and best-practice HTML5 techniques. He's created enterprise specifications, websites and online applications for companies and organisations including the UK Parliament, the European Parliament, the Department of Energy & Climate Change, Microsoft, and more. He's written more than 1,000 articles for SitePoint and you can find him @craigbuckler.

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