File Under: HTML5, Web Standards

Drink Up HTML5, It’s Last Call

After more than 3 years of development, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) HTML Working Group has voted to move the HTML5 draft specification to Last Call status. That means HTML5 is about to crawl out of the dark pub and into the harsh morning light of the web.

While the HTML5 spec may just now be emerging into the light, savvy Webmonkeys have been using HTML5 tools for some time. In fact, HTML5 is already all over the web. Whether it’s natively embedded video or highly experimental movie projects or very angry birds, clearly its draft status has not stopped developers from embracing HTML5.

It’ll still be several years before HTML5 reaches the official Recommendation status (the current timeline puts the finalized HTML5 spec out in 2014), but Last Call is the first of a series of important steps for the web’s new lingua franca.

Last Call status means there will be 10 more weeks of bug reports and then the W3C’s HTML Working Group will have until January 2012 to fix those bugs. Once that’s done, barring any substantive changes, HTML5 will move to a Candidate Recommendation, and then, eventually on to become an official W3C Recommendation — prime time status.

There are technically two days left in the voting for Last Call status, but it is unlikely that the HTML Working Group won’t move HTML5 to Last Call (and so far there are no Formal Objections). However, W3C Working Group co-chairman Daniel Glazman has a entered a resounding “No” vote with some criticisms worth mentioning.

Among Glazman’s contentions is the still unsettled longdesc attribute. Although longdesc is part of HTML4 (it provides a link to a long description of an image, to supplement the alt attribute), it’s long been on the drop list for HTML5. But HTML5 is supposed to maintain backwards compatibility with early versions of HTML and the absence of longdesc creates a problem.

Glazman believes that until longdesc is added back in, and a number of other outstanding issues are resolved, the HTML5 Working Group should hold off on the move to Last Call.

HTML5 community leader Shelley Powers calls the No votes “politics, as usual.” There has certainly been no shortage of politics and infighting in the development of HTML5, and we wouldn’t expect the move to Last Call to be any different.

If you’re curious who voted Yes and No, and who abstained, head over to the W3C site and check out the Last Call poll results (Minor point worth noting: Voting results are wrapped in table tags — are poll results really tabular data? Discuss.)

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