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W3C Announces Last Call for HTML 5 Spec

The HTML 5 specification reached an important milestone on Wednesday, when the Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C) announced that it had reached the Last Call stage for contributions. The next major milestone will be the Candidate Recommendation period, scheduled for completion in the second quarter of next year. A Proposed Recommendation period follows, scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2014. The actual Recommendation, expected to appear in the second quarter of 2014, is the phase where the W3C formally endorses the spec.

The W3C's full timeline for completing the Last Call milestone is published here.

HTML 5 is the first major update to the HTML spec since HTML 4.01 was released in 1999, according to a blog by Paul Cotton, cochair of the HTML Working Group at the W3C and group manager for Web services standards and partners in the Microsoft Interoperability Strategy Team. With the announcement of Last Call, the W3C will accept final comments on what they consider to be relatively stable code. This comment period, which ends on August 2, is intended for reporting bugs and other issues.

Even though HTML 5 currently is not feature complete, the W3C says in its FAQ that HTML 5 can be used today. "One can use HTML5 today, knowing the existing limitations and using fallback mechanisms," the FAQ states. HTML 5 notably has some accessibility issues to be addressed, according to the W3C.

Cotton noted a few features that have already been popularized, including HTML 5's support for video in browsers, which previously have relied on using browser add-ons, such as Adobe's Flash or Microsoft's Silverlight. He also pointed to audio support and the use of the canvas tag for two-dimensional graphics. Cotton previously floated the idea in an interview that many applications could be written entirely in HTML 5.

Six parts of the broad HTML 5 spec are up for testing and comments, including "HTML5," "HTML+RDFa 1.1," "HTML Microdata," "HTML Canvas 2D Context," "Polyglot Markup: HTML-Compatible XHTML Documents" and "HTML5: Techniques for providing useful text alternatives," according to the W3C's announcement.

The W3C currently has 1,276 approved test cases and 28,858 submitted tests for HTML 5, according to a blog by Philippe Le Hégaret, who is described as the "W3C manager responsible for HTML5, CSS, SVG, WOFF, and other user interaction technologies."

Also last week, the W3C published its report on Web tracking and user privacy, based on an event held at Princeton University in April. Attendees agreed that some sort of "do not track" Web technology should be standardized, and that there should be an ongoing focus on Web privacy issues at the W3C.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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