Last Friday I found evidence for increasing confusion about what the HTML5 spec actually is. I don’t have any doubts on that score: HTML5 is anything you want it to be as long as it’s new and cool.
In a discussion on the WHAT-WG IRC channel Jeremy got fed up with the fact that he can’t just point people at the spec during his HTML5 evangelism:
I'm doing my damndest to evangelise HTML5 to front end developers and designers but you guys don't make it easy.
As if this stuff wasn't confusing enough for authors already. Now they have to put up with stupid spec obfuscation for the sake of some minor semantic victory for someone somewhere.
The WHATWG couldn't make the spec more author-unfriendly if they tried.
Inevitably, it was pointed out that specs aren’t meant for developers but for browser vendors. That’s true but unhelpful, just as it has been for the past ten years. The ritual dance begins anew.
Personally, I’m not going to take part in the dance this time. I already know what the outcome is going to be, and I’m going to skip the rituals.
Because “HTML5” is so vaguely defined we web developers can decide for ourselves what is part of HTML5 and what isn’t, and that’s something I’m looking forward to. (If spec defenders don’t like that they should have been clearer.)
My favourite examples are geolocation and Web Storage, which will feature prominently in my upcoming HTML5 mobile compatibility tables despite the fact that they’re not in the spec. They’re new, exciting, and absolutely vital on mobile. They’re in my HTML5 spec.
HTML5 is the continuation of Web 2.0 by other means, just as Web 2.0 was the continuation of DHTML. Apparently we need a vague, all-encompassing term for cool new stuff that we want browsers to support and clients to buy so we can play with it.
That’s what HTML5 should be. Because there are new and exciting things going on, people will start to make wish lists. Exactly which items on those lists are described in a document called “HTML5” will slowly cease to matter, as long as they have some browser support.
As soon as a certain feature appears on enough HTML5 lists it will become canonical. Conversely, the stuff that nobody’s really interested in will no longer be HTML5, even if it’s in a spec with that name.
I consider this a Good Thing. Wisdom of the crowds and all that. (Again, if spec defenders don’t like it, they should have been more accomodating to authors.)
So what’s in your HTML5 spec? Top three, anyone?
Update: If you still want to vote, do it here.
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