HTML 5 updated

There’s a new working draft of HTML 5 available from W3C. It still has the same warning as in April: “Implementors should be aware that this specification is not stable. Implementors who are not taking part in the discussions are likely to find the specification changing out from under them in incompatible ways.

But lots of sections have been marked “Last call for comments,” so perhaps it really is closing in on a stable version. Or perhaps not. The most widely debated issue is video codecs, and I get the impression there’s been little progress on them. The situation is, in principle, similar to the <IMG> tag, where browsers explicitly aren’t required to support any particular image format; but it would be a poor (or text-only) browser that didn’t support JPEG and GIF, at least. With video there isn’t even that much agreement. Granted, the situation is just as bad now, but HTML 4 doesn’t even address the issue, so it isn’t held back by format disputes.

I’m looking at the HTML 5 wars from a rather uninformed distance, so don’t expect expert analysis here, just impatience with how slowly things are going. According to the WHATWG Wiki, it may reach Candidate Recommendation stage in 2012. The fact that the HTML working group now has three co-chairs just strikes me as a bad sign.

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