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As with any new technique or technology, there's a lot of confusion surrounding HTML5 and when it will be ready for everyday use. One of the funniest sites surrounding the hype of HTML5 is the ishtml5readyyet.com, which counts down the days until the HTML5 specification is slated to reach recommendation status. Well, obviously this site is very tongue -in-cheek and purposefully ignores the parts of the specification that are being supported now. To help clear up the confusion, I want to take a moment and review the timeline of HTML5 and the steps still remaining for the specification as it becomes a W3 recommendation.
Although work on Web Applications 1.0 and Web Forms formed the foundation for what would eventually become HTML5, you can actually trace HTML5's true beginnings to an Adobe sponsored workshop, the Workshop on Web Applications and Compound Documents in 2004, which was focused on the future of web applications. Although the W3C had made the decision to move forward with XHTML 2.0, a group of developers from Apple, Mozilla, and Opera proposed evolving HTML 4 by adding support for web applications.
Although the proposal was rejected, the group felt that their goals were the right direction for the web and they formed the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group or WHATWG and began to work on what would become HTML5. They published their first working draft still under the Web Application's 1.0 name in September of 2005. In 2006, the W3C made an abrupt about- face and announced that they would work with the WHATWG to evolve HTML rather than continue with XHTML.
The specification was renamed to HTML5 and the W3C created the first working draft of the new specification in 2007. Since then the W3C and the WHATWG have maintained separate but almost identical specifications, releasing new drafts incrementally. In 2008, Ian Hickson, the editor of HTML5, gave a now famous interview with TechRepublic, where he laid out his vision for the timeline of HTML5. By Hickson's estimation, HTML5 would issue a last call for comment in 2009, issue a candidate recommendation around 2012, issue test suites shortly after that, and finish testing around 2020.
Now, the real eyebrow raiser was Hickson stating that he envisioned HTML5 reaching recommendation status in 2022. This statement was met with surprise and even outright ridicule in some circles. Given the sheer scope of the HTML5 specification and the development length of other specs in the past, Hickson's comments shouldn't have surprised anyone. However, there's actually quite a bit of difference between the release of a specification as a W3 recommendation and the adoption of the specification by user agents.
Interest in HTML5 has been steadily increasing over the years, but has exploded in the later part of 2009 and into 2010. Strong pushes by Apple and Google to support HTML5 have dramatically sped up the interest and the adoption of many HTML5 features, so much so that over the course of about six months, using HTML5 has crossed over from the theoretical discussion to practical application. So where is HTML5 right now? Well, currently it is a published draft in the Last Call phase of comments.
The next step will be to issue the specification as a candidate recommendation, which could occur within the next year or so. The main thing to keep in mind is that various parts of the specification are much more mature than other parts. This means that while the entire specification might not be ready for adoption, there are many parts of it that are ready to be used right now. The increasing number of devices and browsers that are adding HTML5 support are a testament to that approach. As a designer or a web developer, that doesn't mean that you have to wait until 2022 to start using HTML5. All you need to do is find out what parts of the specification are gaining widespread support and use them in your projects.
I'll discuss this approach in more detail in our next movie, where I talk about the current state of HTML5 support.
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