From the Editors: One HTML, under W3C
By SD Times Editorial Board
December 26, 2012 —
(Page 1 of 2)
Related Search Term(s): HTML5, W3C, WHATWG
The World Wide Web Consortium has advanced HTML5 to a candidate recommendation, essentially saying that the 5.0 version of the specification is locked down and compete.
This should be good news, especially in the Bring-Your-Own-Device world, where HTML5 and the accompanying W3C Web specifications have become the platform of choice for developers creating applications that must run on desktops, tablets and smartphones, with different operating systems and different form factors, all while maintaining an excellent user experience.
Unfortunately, the specification is not locked down, as the W3C states. That’s because another group—the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG)—is also working to advance HTML. The WHATWG split off its efforts from the W3C back in 2004, when it believed that the W3C had given up on HTML to focus its efforts on XML and XHTML.
In 2007, the W3C adopted the WHATWG specification as HTML5. And according to W3C communications director Ian Jacobs, the groups have been working together to a point, and have agreed that WHATWG’s work will be called the “living standard,” while the W3C’s work will be called a “snapshot” of the specification, frozen at a point, put through review and comment, and then earning status as a W3C recommendation.
The idea of a living standard, according to WHATWG editor Ian Hickson, is that it is constantly receiving additions and being cleaned of bugs; it is not subjected to the slow, laborious process of the W3C. Yet it is that very rigor that makes a specification something an industry can universally trust and rely on.
This bifurcation is not good news for developers, their managers, or the industry as a whole. Now, browser providers, device manufacturers and application developers will have to consider which of these supports which standards. If you write to some of the new features in the “living standard” that aren’t yet part of a W3C specification, yet the browser or device doesn’t support them, the website or application will not render as intended. And as we’ve come to learn, an application’s success or failure in today’s world comes down to two things: performance, and user experience. If either is degraded because of disparities in the specification, everyone loses.
The groups forked off over XHTML. The W3C has since acknowledged that was the wrong path to take. The sides need to put their egos and control issues aside, and work to advance one true HTML5 specification.
HTML5 has the potential to make the lives of developers creating cross-platform applications a whole lot easier. The specification itself is quite complex, both to implement within a browser, and also to target as a developer. Let’s not let the specification create unnecessary issues.