[Skip to the Main Content]

Why Use HTML5?

This article is cautionary. Flying Monkey veckling will not suffice.

HTML5 appears simple. And, It is —but not really.

Ian Hickson replied to a message in the mailing list thread [whatwg] xml:lang and xmlns in HTML [December 1, 2006],

“Ah, yes. To convert an Appendix-C-compliant document to HTML5, one would just need to change the DOCTYPE and drop the namespace declaration and one would be pretty close (there might be some other esoteric things to change, but probably not many). That should be reasonably easy, probably just a search-and-replace or a template change.”

Andy Clarke allowed me that experiment.

And, it was reasonably easy.

So, should HTML5 be immediately used? instead of HTML 4.01 or XHTML 1.0?

We must set the Wayback Machine to 2004 before reply may be made.

There was disharmony between the W3C and markup language users.
W3C Workshop on Web Applications and Compound Documents (Day 1) Jun 1, 2004 and W3C Workshop on Web Applications and Compound Documents (Day 2) Jun 2, 2004 illustrates that disharmonious state.
The WHAT WG issues coalesced HTML 4.01 and XHTML 1.0 Specification.
Web Applications 1.0 Early Working Draft — 1 September 2005 was formally released. It must have some importance as the original work was copyrighted in 2004 by Apple Computer, Inc., Mozilla Foundation, and Opera Software ASA. The specification incorporated the abandoned by W3C HTML 4.01 and XHTML 1.0 languages.
IBM Examines Things
The future of HTML, Part 1: WHATWG Or, The Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group’s approach to improving HTML [December 6, 2005] and The future of HTML, Part 2: XHTML 2.0 Or, Examining the W3C's approach to improving HTML [January 25, 2006] were published.
The W3C Take Note of Things
Reinventing HTML by Tim Berners-Lee [October 27, 2006] pens an article which includes,

“The perceived accountability of the HTML group has been an issue. Sometimes this was a departure from the W3C process, sometimes a sticking to it in principle, but not actually providing assurances to commenters. An issue was the formation of the breakaway WHAT WG, which attracted reviewers though it did not have a process or specific accountability measures itself.”


“The plan is to charter a completely new HTML group. Unlike the previous one, this one will be chartered to do incremental improvements to HTML, as also in parallel xHTML. It will have a different chair and staff contact. It will work on HTML and xHTML together. We have strong support for this group, from many people we have talked to, including browser makers.”

[Elementary aside: It’s interesting that Mr. Berners-Lee has written it as xHTML (which may be assumed to be XHTML 1.0 and XHTML 1.1) since he later writes XHTML 2, specifically. Perhaps, lowercase “x” means Experimental.]

A New W3C HTML WG charter was issued.
HTML Working Group Charter [November 22, 2006] with its first sentence under Scope,

“This group will maintain and produce incremental revisions to the HTML specification, which includes the series of specifications previously published as XHTML version 1. Both XML and ‘classic HTML’ syntaxes will be produced.”

[Elementary aside: So, that would be HTML 4.01, xHTML 1 and xHTML 1.1 as XHTML 2.0 is exempt (as implied by Mr. Berners-Lee).]

The HTML WG Chairperson was appointed.
The article, You, me and the W3C (aka Reinventing HTML) by Chris Wilson/Chairperson [January 10, 2007] for the HTML WG, I found to be both conciliatory and dismissive regarding the work of the WHAT WG.
The Masses Speak.
Digg - Improve your forms using HTML5! [January 17, 2006] offers public replies to an article written by Anne van Kesteren for Opera Developer Community [December 13, 2006]. Those replies include HTML5.

And, that’s where we are.

Why take The WHAT® Patented Elixir™?

There are no practical reasons for adopting it. Presently. The specification fluxes; the specification itself is HTML 4.01 declared; it will be fifteen years before becoming a recommendation (whereas the W3C HTML WG offers that its specification will be done by December 2008); its HTML5 Elements and Attributes has proposed elements and attribute which are not—Presently—implemented by User Agents; User Agents may not use HTML5 elements and attributes until W3C issues them; the W3C HTML WG may reinvent HTML5 proposed elements and attributes, e.g., HTML5’s proposed element <aside> may become W3C’s <obloquy>; WHAT WG shall end (whereas W3 Consortium-for-Life shall continue its work); WHAT does not have a quality assurance help desk at present; Public Opinion's against it; and, I’ll wager that the HTML5 Document Type Declaration will be converted by W3C into a Document Type Definition (DTD).

There are other reasons, too.

So— Why would one want to use it.

It’s not difficult to make well-formed HTML (or, XHTML) pages HTML5 complaint. I like the simple formality HTML5 offers. It merges the omnipresent foundation of HTML with the actual benefits of XHTML. It does offer backwards-compatibility. It supports future web applications. The specification may be a working draft but its theory and methodology are sound.

There are other reasons, too.

I’ll take it —Eventually.

Sean Fraser posted this on January 24, 2007 09:22 AM.

  • Add to Technorati Favorites
  • de.licio.us: http://www.elementary-group-standards.com/html/why-use-html5.html
  • furl: http://www.elementary-group-standards.com/html/why-use-html5.html
  • reddit: http://www.elementary-group-standards.com/html/why-use-html5.html


Ian Hickson wrote this at January 24, 2007 01:48 PM

Correction. WHATWG's HTML5, or whatever that eventually becomes, will *definitely* be completely finished, with test suite, and interoperably implemented, in 15 years.

W3C's proposed HTML charter, on the other hand, makes completely outlandish and unrealistic predictions. In practice, the W3C HTML working group will take at least as long if not longer than the WHATWG.

Consider this. The CSS charter said CSS2 would be done in the early 90s. It's still not done, and we're nearly out of the 2000s. This isn't a bad thing. It's just that CSS2 is being done properly, and it takes a long time to get a spec done right.

Note that a spec will be usable long before it's finished -- people use CSS2 all the time, and they even already use parts of WHATWG HTML5 (like the CANVAS element, or contentEditable).

Comment Author Gravatar
Sean Fraser wrote this at January 24, 2007 05:31 PM

Ian: Yes, CSS 2 is being used widely and W3C Quality Assurance/CSS Teams should be commended for - Finally - making CSS 2.1 the default setting on its validator.

I do not believe that the W3C HTML WG will complete recommendation status by 2008; and neither do I believe that that WG shall be disbanded late 2010. Still. Maybe, the W3C processes have improved. [The Mobile Web Best Practices was a published working draft in October 2007; it made proposed recommendation by November 2006.] The HTML WG could always bastardized the previous test suite to meet its accelerated dead-line.

True. Specification are usable before being finished but not before those parts are incorporated into User Agents, e.g., browsers. Safari, Mozilla and Opera (since they're the copyright holders) may be the first to include HTML5 elements and attributes once they become stable, Right? When would IE include them? notwithstanding the W3C HTML WG chairperson.

HTML5 Elements and Attributes have attracted - Mostly Favorable - interest thanks to Roger Johansson's article. When do you suppose - Let's say - "nav" becomes stable and included by Opera?

Comment Here

Reply guidelines: Basic HTML (a href, p, code, blockquote, dl, dt, dd, ul, ol, li, cite and q) are allowed. Line breaks and paragraphs are automated.

Inappropriate, unwarranted or self-aggrandizemented comments may suffer redaction. Or, deletion.

[Note: A gravatar, or globally recognized avatar, is that small image in the comments. Gravatar sets-up them.]

The Elementary Standards: A Compendium of Web Standards, CSS, Linguistics and Search Engine Optimization methodology Copyright ©2005-2007 Sean Fraser. All work is published under a Creative Commons License. All Rights Reserved.

Palm trees on a grassy field in Hawai’i

Main Content Returns thus