HTML5 is born! (isn't this old news?)

HTML5 is born! (isn't this old news?)

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Last week, on Tuesday 28th October 2014, HTML5 finally was released as a W3C recommendation, meaning that it is officially a recognised standard.

For the non-webmasters out there, some quick explanations:-

W3C is the "World Wide Web Consortium", an organisation devoted to developing and agreeing on the standards that make up the internet, founded and led by Tim Berners-Lee who originally invented the internet.

HTML or "Hyper Text Markup Language" is the method in which all websites are sent to your browser, a text based language which is transformed into the web pages that you use everyday.

HTML5 is the 5th iteration of the HTML standard and has been a very long time in the making.

  • 1990 – Berners-Lee created the first draft of HTML
  • November 1995 – HTML 2.0 published
  • January 1997 – HTML 3.2 published.
  • December 1997 – HTML 4.0 published
  • December 1999 – HTML 4.01 published
  • January 2008 – HTML5 First working draft
  • May 2011 – HTML5 Last call
  • July 2012 – HTML5 Candidate recommendation
  • September 2014 – HTML5 Proposed recommendation
  • October 2014 – HTML5 W3C recommendation

The key points to take from this are that HTML 4.01, which was the latest official version up until this announcement, is almost 15 years old, compared to less than 3 years between 3.2 and 4.01. Plus it is nearly 7 years since the working draft of HTML5 was first documented.

So, great news everyone, we can all start building websites using HTML5 now!

To which, anyone who works with websites or has had a website made recently will probably reply "What??? My websites have been HTML5 for years!"

While the 28th October is a monumental day in regards to the internet and a significant milestone achievement for the W3C, the reality is that the HTML5 excitement bubble has burst long ago.

Back in the days of HTML 3 and 4 many web browsers decided that they were bigger and better than the agreed standards (Looking at you, Microsofts IE6 team…) which meant all websites needed to be made multiple times to work on different browsers. This was a huge burden on web developers which took time and resources away from building better websites.

For many years pre-release versions of HTML5 and the accompanying CSS3 were adopted by different web browsers even before they were actually decided and agreed upon. This resulted in continued browser fragmentation where newer features were handled differently for users of chrome, firefox or internet explorer. However things were improving as, despite having different interpretations of unagreed features, all browsers were finally converging closer to the accepted standard (credit where credit due, well done more recent Microsoft IE teams!)

So now we have the standards set in stone and all browsers are close to them already, there should be no reason for the next release of each browser not to conform 100% to the accepted HTML5 standards. If we can kill off all old versions of internet explorer  (which requires killing the relentless survivor that is windows XP) then websites could finally get to the stage of 1 codebase for all browsers.

But, that won't quite happen since we now have mobile in the mix and plans for a specification recommendation of HTML5.1 by the end of 2016.

Mark Walker

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