Today marks an important milestone for Web development, as the W3C announced the publication of the Candidate Recommendation (CR) version of the HTML 5.0 and Canvas 2D specifications.
This means that the specifications are feature complete: no new features will be added to the final HTML 5.0 or the Canvas2D Recommendations. A small number of features are marked “at risk,” but developers and businesses can now rely on all others being in the final HTML 5.0 and Canvas 2D Recommendations for implementation and planning purposes. Any new features will be rolled into HTML 5.1 or the next version of Canvas 2D.
It feels like yesterday when I was publishing a previous post on HTML5 progress toward a standard, as HTML5 reached "Last Call" status in May 2011. The W3C set an ambitious timeline to finish HTML 5.0, and this transition shows that it is on track. That makes me highly confident that HTML 5.0 can reach Recommendation status in 2014.
The real-world interoperability of many HTML 5.0 features today means that further testing can be much more focused and efficient. As a matter of fact, the Working Group will use the “public permissive” criteria to determine whether a feature that is implemented by multiple browsers in an interoperable way can be accepted as part of the standard without expensive testing to verify.
Work in this “Candidate Recommendation” phase will focus on analyzing current HTML 5.0 implementations, establishing priorities for test development, and working with the community to develop those tests. The WG will also look into the features tagged as “at risk” that might be moved to HTML 5.1 or the next version of Canvas2D if they don’t exhibit a satisfactory level of interoperability by the end of the CR period.
At the same time, work on HTML 5.1 and the next version of Canvas2D are underway and the W3C announced first working drafts that include features such as media and graphics. This work is on a much faster track than HTML5 has been, and 5.1 Recommendations are expected in 2016. The HTML Working Group will consider several sources of suggested new features for HTML 5.1. Furthermore, HTML 5.1 could incorporate the results of various W3C Community Groups such as the Responsive Images Community Group or the WHATCG. HTML 5.1 will use the successful approach that the CSS 3.0 family of specs has used to define modular specifications that extend HTML’s capabilities without requiring changes to the underlying standard. For example, the HTML WG already has work underway to standardize APIs for Encrypted Media Extensions, which would allow services such as Netflix to stream content to browsers without plugins, and Media Source Extensions to facilitate streaming content in a way that adapts to the characteristics of the network and device.
Reaching Candidate Recommendation further indicates the high level of collaboration that exists in the HTML WG. I would especially like to thank the W3C Team and my co-chairs, Sam Ruby (IBM) and Maciej Stachowiak (Apple), for all their hard work in helping to get to CR. In addition, the HTML WG editorial team lead by Robin Berjon deserves a lot of credit for finalizing the CR drafts and for their work on the HTML 5.1 drafts.
Paul Cotton, Microsoft Canada
W3C HTML Working Group co-chair