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HTML5 logo: W3C takes a step in the right direction

By Chris Mills | January 28th, 2011 | Filed in Action, CSS, Emerging Technology, General, HTML/XHTML, Opinion, W3C/Standards Documentation

With a little back-pedalling, the W3C has moved away from their blanket characterization of modern web tech as “HTML5”.

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After receiving a wave of negative feedback concerning the HTML5 logo, the W3C have made steps towards righting things. If you read the HTML5 logo FAQ, you’ll see that they’ve made some significant changes, including adding this:

Is W3C saying that CSS3 is part of the HTML5 specification?

No. However, many HTML5 Web sites and applications do take advantage of CSS3 for styling and presentation.

This is a good start, but there is still a lot to be done. The main HTML5 logo page still includes non-HTML5 (or event HTML5 web app-related) technologies such as CSS3, SVG, etc. And the Badge Builder still assembles a badge that makes these technologies appear subordinate to HTML5 as opposed to framing them as complementary, but distinct entities. We hope the FAQ change is not the end of their efforts to fix the potential confusion they have caused and that they will continue putting things right over coming days.

On a related matter…

As you probably heard, the WHATWG has decided to drop the “5” from their work on the HTML language:

…we realised that the demand for new features in HTML remained high, and so we would have to continue maintaining HTML and adding features to it before we could call “HTML5″ complete, and as a result we moved to a new development model, where the technology is not versioned and instead we just have a living document that defines the technology as it evolves.

At first blush, many of us were a little distraught by this decision because we thought the W3C might decide to follow suit, but after thinking on it a bit, the decision makes sense: the WHATWG can work on the HTML markup language in a fluid way and the W3C can take snapshots of that work and christen it with a version number for reference purposes.

Some might argue that version numbers are meaningless on the ever-evolving web, but they do help us establish mile-markers or guideposts which aid in both education and accountability. Sure, both versions 4 and 5 of HTML are still HTML, but, as the saying goes, you can’t build on shifting sands. It’s frustrating to teach from an ever-changing spec. The same goes for authoring to one. Some manner of stability is necessary so you know what is “true” now (or at least at some point in time), even if those circumstances may change in six months or six years. Not having a version number will make it really hard to educate people about the current set of new HTML features, and how they differ from the old version (which rather contradicts the purpose of the HTML5 logo in the first place).

Not that there was really a question, but we stand by our sentiment that the final (as in W3C) version of HTML5 should continue having a version number while the version-less WHATWG version is used for continuing development.

Your Replies

#1 On January 28th, 2011 6:13 pm Tweets that mention HTML5 logo: W3C takes a step in the right direction - The Web Standards Project -- replied:

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by karannnnnnnnnnn3 and FMC Washington DC, sin3rss. sin3rss said: HTML5 logo: W3C takes a step in the right direction: After receiving a wave of negative feedback concerning the … [...]

#2 On January 30th, 2011 3:34 pm John A. Bilicki III replied:

It’s at a minimal a marketing stunt and none of the reasons the excessive number of large words add up mathematically speaking for removing the version number; it really seems to come down to from what I’ve read that the WHATWG had mild to harsh disagreements with the W3C and decided to take their own route. It’s a symbolic move to say they work on “HTML” instead of HTML5 as in the idea that they have taken over all of the work on HTML as a whole (e.g. HTML 1~5) thus somehow superseding the W3C.

I’m still calling HTML5 HTML5 because that’s what it is. People will still use HTML 4.01 and 3.2 in example long in to the lifespan and beyond HTML5 and 6. Removing the number doesn’t serve any useful technical functionality or benefit.

#3 On February 1st, 2011 8:41 pm Marietta Remodeler replied:

Great post. As my grandma used to say, “we all gotta pick our battles”. Like the last posters comments about why they may have picked this battle. At the end of the day, it won’t accomplish much, where as focusing energy on across the board standards, like ya’ll do, that makes good sense. Communication between humans is hard enough, we need systems and formats that make it easier to get on the same page!

#4 On February 4th, 2011 4:54 pm Ajeet replied:

I was part of the “wave of negative feedback concerning the HTML5 logo.” Thank you very much. Glad to help :)

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