File Under: HTML5, Web Standards

W3C Unveils Plan to Finish HTML5 in 2014

Image: Screenshot/Webmonkey.

Like the Cylons, HTML5 was created by man. It rebelled. It evolved. It looks and feels like HTML. And now, it has a plan.

Namely, to be done in 2014.

The W3C has formalized its plan to move the HTML5 spec to the official “Candidate Recommendation” status by the end of 2014. That might seem like a long time from now, especially if, like most of us, you’ve been using the bulk of HTML5 for some time, but 2014 is quite a bit better than the 2022 date that used to be tossed around.

But there’s a catch. In order to get HTML5 to the Candidate Recommendation stage on time the W3C is going to move some less stable parts of the spec to the newly designated HTML 5.1.

HTML5 has already been “modularized” over the years, spinning off sections like Web Workers, WebSockets, Microdata and half a dozen others, which are all now separate specifications at the W3C.

Now the W3C plans to split the remaining chunk of HTML 5.0 into HTML 5.0 and HTML 5.1. Each spec will then move through the process of becoming an official web standard. Here’s the W3C HTML Working Group’s plan for HTML5:

  • we determine which features are likely to meet the “Public Permissive” CR exit criteria,
  • we create a “stable HTML5.0″ draft which includes just those “stable” features, and which omits the remaining “unstable” features
  • we create an HTML 5.1 editor’s draft which is a superset of the stable HTML5.0 but with the “unstable” features included instead of omitted, and also with any new proposed features included

The HTML WG would then rinse and repeat with HTML5.1 in 2016. And then HTML5.2 and so on. The result will hopefully be a faster evolving series of specs, which in turn means more features reach the Recommendation stage in less time.

For web developers in the trenches finalizing HTML5 might seem irrelevant — after all, browsers already support most of it so who really cares? There are two reasons reaching the Candidate Recommendation stage matters: It usually means improved cross-browser support and it always means that the spec is covered by the all important W3C patent policy, which ensures that HTML5 remains a royalty-free standard.

For a complete list of everything that’s “unstable” in the current draft of HTML5, as well as the plan for how to handle it, be sure to read through the W3C’s plan.