The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has established a more defined timeline for the HTML5 specification, shooting for May 2011 as the last call date and a final full spec by 2014.
The W3C extended the charter of the HTML Working Group with clear milestones for HTML5, the cornerstone of W3C’s Open Web Platform for application development. Coming in May 2014, the “Last Call” phase of the HTML5 spec proffers an invitation to communities inside and outside the W3C to confirm the technical soundness of the specification. The group will then shift focus to gathering implementation experience. The W3C is developing a comprehensive test suite to achieve broad interoperability for the full specification by 2014, the target date for Recommendation, the W3C said in a press release.
The 2014 time frame is significant because the W3C has had different targets for the HTML5 spec, including not seeing the final specification until 2022.
“Even as innovation continues, advancing HTML5 to Recommendation provides the entire Web ecosystem with a stable, tested, interoperable standard,” Jeff Jaffe, W3C CEO, said in a statement. “The decision to schedule the HTML5 Last Call for May 2011 was an important step in setting industry expectations. Today we take the next step, announcing 2014 as the target for Recommendation.”
Although W3C officials have warned developers not to adopt the HTML5 capabilities prematurely, the standards body also is encouraging developers to implement HTML5 where appropriate. For example, the Apple iPad supports HTML5 and Apple even recently redesigned its homepage using HTML5 technologies. Microsoft also is betting heavily on HTML5 in its Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) browser technology
By setting a date for HTML5 standardization, the W3C will ensure broad interoperability of the emerging Web technologies over a variety of platforms-from mobile browsers to Web on TV, W3C officials said.
The W3C said there are more than 50 organizations participating in the HTML Working Group, all committed to royalty-free licensing under the W3C Patent Policy. There are more than 400 individuals from all over the world in the group, including designers, content authors, accessibility experts, and representatives from browser vendors, authoring tool vendors, telecoms, equipment manufacturers and other IT companies.
Meanwhile, as the audience for the Web platform continues to grow, so does the need for interoperability among the many technologies of W3C’s Open Web Platform, including HTML5, CSS, SVG, WOFF, various APIs and more. Nearly all of these technologies are already in use, at varying degrees of maturity and implementation.
Additionally, because HTML5 anchors the Open Web Platform, the W3C has started work on a test suite to ensure high levels of interoperability. The W3C invites test suite contributions from the community, which will enable software implementers to fulfill the W3C’s implementation criteria and make it easier to create content and applications. The testing effort will play an important role in the timely completion of the standard.
As part of developing IE9, which is in a “release candidate” phase, Microsoft submitted thousands of tests to the W3C and other standards groups. In a Feb. 10 blog post, Dean Hachamovitch, corporate vice president for Internet Explorer at Microsoft, said:
Also, according to the W3C, stable standards play an important role in the broad deployment of technology. As reference points, they make it easier for large numbers of independent implementers to achieve interoperability across diverse platforms, devices and industries. This is particularly important in the rich ecosystem of HTML producers and consumers, which includes authoring tools, browsers, e-mail clients, security applications, content management systems, tools to analyze or convert content, assistive technologies, and unanticipated applications. Stable standards with community support give developers and implementers confidence that what they build today will continue to work in the future, the W3C said.
Meanwhile, as part of the mission of the W3C HTML Working Group to continue the evolution of HTML, W3C Director Tim Berners-Lee also encourages the group to begin discussion of requirements for future versions of HTML.