Using HTML 5.1

Posted on Monday, 28 January 2013 by Steve Faulkner

tl;dr

If you are an HTML author or developer – use the HTML 5.1 Nightly edition of the HTML specification.

What is this thing called HTML?

It can be confusing, authors and developers now have a seeming multitude of authoritative sources for the definition of how HTML features work and how HTML features are to be used.

Why use the HTML 5.1 Nightly?

It is updated regularly (as the name implies) with the latest new features, bug fixes and editorial changes cherry picked from a range of sources, primarily but not exclusively from the WHATWG spec.

Why a range of sources?

The development of many new features occurs via the WHATWG as it is the venue of choice for some (but not all, while all browser implementers are members of the W3C). Development of new features also occurs at the W3C (the main element for example) and other organisations. While the HTML WG liaises with the WHATWG and other organisations, the content of the HTML specification is decided by the HTML working group which reviews and works towards technical consensus before adding/modifying features or changing advice  and requirements in HTML, whatever the source. If new features are considered controversial, not fully baked, are better defined as a module, or there are multiple proposals for solving similar use cases, they may be developed as HTML extension specifications. This provides all stake holders an opportunity for review and discussion of the features.

HTML is not just for browser implementers

From a user’s and developer’s point of view, how to use HTML and how it should be used are important considerations as its use directly impacts those who consume the semantic and structural information and  interaction behaviours that HTML as implemented (or not) provides.

The HTML specification – authoring advice and requirements

The HTML specification provides authoring advice and requirements; developers use this and authors of books and articles on HTML use it to inform their writing. The HTML 5.1 Nightly version of the specification includes the most up to date authoring advice and requirements, which is actively developed, primarily within the HTML working group  Unlike for the implementation aspects which are primarily dictated by browser vendors, the voices of users, developers and accessibility communities are important sources for deciding what the HTML specification has to say about how HTML should be used.

Further Reading:

Plan 2014 – for an understanding of what is happening with HTML and beyond

Some current discussions on the HTML WG list:


About Steve Faulkner

Steve is the Senior Web Accessibility Consultant and Technical Director, TPG Europe. He joined The Paciello Group in 2006 and was previously a Senior Web Accessibility Consultant at Vision Australia. He is the creator and lead developer of the Web Accessibility Toolbar accessibility testing tool. Steve is a member of several groups, including the W3C HTML Working Group and the W3C Protocols and Formats Working Group. He is an editor of several specifications at the W3C including HTML 5.1, Using WAI-ARIA in HTML and HTML5: Techniques for providing useful text alternatives. He also develops and maintains HTML5accessibility

Comments

  1. Hi Steve,
    are things like the <main> element likely to be added also to the WHATWG spec at some point in time? If not, will they still be implemented by browser makers? (As a reader, I might infer that from your mentioning that “all browser implementers are members of the W3C”.)
    Best, Detlev

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