So what is HTML 5 exactly?

Paul Cotton, co-chair from Microsoft on the W3C HTML Working Group, has some interesting comments on exactly what people mean by “HTML 5.” This may help explain some odd statements about “HTML video” which I’ve commented on in recent posts. The interview includes other remarks on the status of HTML 5.

First, I believe that most people use the term “HTML 5” to refer to the HTML 5 specification currently being worked on by the HTML WG. The HTML 5 specification defines the syntax and the semantics of the elements and attributes in the HTML markup language and several of the APIs that are used to process HTML documents. Recently the HTML WG has started to break the HTML 5 specification into more modular and separate Working Drafts e.g. HTML+RDFa, HTML Microdata, and HTML Canvas 2D Context. The HTML WG is also publishing two additional documents to aid users of HTML 5: the HTML 5 differences from HTML4 specification and HTML: The Markup Language which is aimed at developers that produce HTML 5 output.

Each of these additional Working Drafts are still part of “HTML 5” and are all on track to become separate but related W3C Recommendations or Working Group Notes. I believe that the content of these WDs taken together will define the part of “HTML 5” being worked on by the HTML WG.

But I believe that some use the term “HTML 5” to refer also to the important related API specifications being worked on by the WebApps WG. The WebApps WG is chartered to create client-side APIs that can be used with the HTML markup language – in fact some of its specifications started as part of the HTML 5 specification but were migrated over to be separate modular specifications managed by the WebApps WG. In addition there are some very interesting APIs under development by the Device APIs and Policy Working Group which are related to HTML 5 since they can be used with the HTML language and in user agents.

Others use the term “HTML 5” to also include the ECMAScript-262 Language which defines the programming language that we use today to build dynamic web applications.

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