W3C to finish HTML5 by 2014

WG chairs propose to get HTML5 to Recommendation more rapidly

In our interview with W3C HTML editor Robin Berjon, he outlined plans to release a stable snapshot HTML5 document in 2014, and in parallel continue releasing drafts of that will be more fluid and target regular subsequent releases. W3C has now formalised this plan, publicly releasing the document Plan 2014.

Plan 2014 essentially provides detail surrounding what Berjon said was going to happen, and the date is a clear improvement on Ian Hickson's guesswork in a 2008 TechRepublic interview, which had 2022 as the end of the HTML5 timeline. As Berjon noted in the aforementioned .net interview, getting to Recommendation will also be beneficial in dealing with potential IP concerns, because "[royalty free] commitments under W3C's patent policy only come into play upon reaching Recommendation". As he said, "the sooner we can get there the better".

But according to W3C, challenges remain in achieving the 2014 deadline, including ten open issues, 11 formal objections, and 300 outstanding bugs, with more coming in all the time. To avoid what W3C refers to as "infinite regress", it has proposed to split HTML5 into HTML5.0 and HTML5.1, with less stable aspects of the spec being bumped to the end of 2016 for Recommendation status. The specific relationship between the specs was outlined as follows:

  • we determine which features are likely to meet the "Public Permissive" CR exit criteria 
  • we create a "stable HTML5.0" draft which includes just those "stable" features, and which omits the remaining "unstable" features
  • we create an HTML5.1 editor's draft which is a superset of the stable HTML5.0 but with the "unstable" features included instead of omitted, and also with any new proposed features included

The organisation added that it expects this cycle to continue, with an editor's draft of HTML5.2 created from 'unstable' features of HTML5.1 as that spec heads to Recommendation.

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