HTML5 Comes Of Age (Finally)

HTML5To anyone working in the web design and development fields, it probably seems like old news, but it’s worth taking a moment to acknowledge that HTML5 has been officially recognized as a standard by the W3C, the body in charge of web standards (for the most part).

Of course, HTML5 has been in active use for years, but the modern version of HTML now has the imprimatur of the organization overseen by the web’s inventor, Tim Berners-Lee.

“Today we think nothing of watching video and audio natively in the browser, and nothing of running a browser on a phone,” said the W3C Director. “We expect to be able to share photos, shop, read the news, and look up information anywhere, on any device. Though they remain invisible to most users, HTML5 and the Open Web Platform are driving these growing user expectations.”

It’s been a long time coming. HTML5 has been under development for a decade — the original position paper which set the general goals of HTML5 was presented to the W3C by the Mozilla Foundation and Opera Software in 2004. The first public working draft was published four years later, and ever since then HTML5 has been edging out its ancestor HTML4, which was standardized in 1997.

HTML5 was intended to pave the way for a modern web and replace the tangled mess of standards and browser non-standards that had gone before. It was also intended to offer a solution to the problem of plugins like Flash, which Steve Jobs famously referred to as “a spaghetti-ball piece of technology that has lousy performance and really bad security problems.”

Flash hasn’t quite died the death that Steve Jobs might have wanted, but its popularity has plummeted and even large companies that relied on plugins like Flash and Microsoft Silverlight are turning to native solutions, a move that would never have been possible without HTML5 and a host of other modern technologies.

HTML4 was built for the early web — the web had been around for less than a decade when it was standardized. HTML5 is built for the modern web, and the modern web is largely built on HTML5. The technology that the web is based on never stops advancing — although those advances seem to come slowly — but if ever there was a time to raise a toast to the developers behind the most important technological development of the past century, it’s now.

Although HTML5 is now “out of the oven”, development will continue; bug squashing is in full swing and work has already begun on HTML5.1 and other standards, with a focus on security and privacy, device interaction, media and real time communication, and accessibility among other priorities.

Matthew Davis is a technical writer and Linux geek for Future Hosting.

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