Sunday, January 23, 2022

The HTML5 Spec: What’s In and What’s Out?

The HTML5 Spec: What’s In and What’s Out?

By Rob Gravelle with Lisa Smith

In June of 2004, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the body responsible for developing HTML, was presented with a suggestion in a workshop, to focus on developing technology that is compatible with existing browsers, in a backward approach. As a result of this discussion a new version of HTML that we know as HTML5 came into existence. From 2012 W3C started to focus on developing a single standard for HTML5, while the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG), the other group involved with the development, changed its mission to “Living Standard”, which means the work will never be considered complete and the group will continue working on updates and improvement of the product. It also means that new features can be added, but current functionality cannot be removed.

The rationale behind HTML5’s reworking is to better synchronize mobile applications across platforms, while still providing a detailed processing model. This is possible, because its features are designed keeping low-power devices in mind.

At the first glance you might compare HTML5 to Adobe Flash, as both can play audio and video within the web page. However, they are far more different, as Adobe Flash is a lot more independent and can work with multimedia content on its own, while HLTM5 depends upon support from other components like CSS3 and JavaScript. Even though, some of these components were once part of the older versions of HTML, now they are completely separate specifications, hence making them an outside supporter.

So, what is new about HTML5?

We can better understand this by looking at the new syntactic features added in this version.

  • <audio>, <video>, <canvas> and a few other such elements were added to handle multimedia and graphical content. These new tags gave HTML5 the ability to play video and audio within the browser, making Adobe Flash all but obsolete. It should be noted that Adobe discontinued Flash’s development in late 2011 for mobile devices and announced to start developing tools using HTML5.
  • Options to support scalable vector graphics (SVL) and MathML were added to support mathematical formulas.
  • The <section>, <article>, <header>, <footer>, <aside>, <nav> elements were added to help enrich the semantic contents of a document. A number of other changes were made, that the end user might never recognize, but will benefit greatly, because of them.
  • Several new form input elements we’re added to make working with forms quicker and easier.
  • <a>, <cite> and <menu> have been a part of HTML for a long time. These have been retained in the new version, however with some changes and standardization.
  • Syntax like <center>, <font> and <frame> no longer exist, having been replaced by their CSS counterparts.
  • The Application programming interface (API) and Document Object Model (DOM) have now been made fundamental parts of HTML5.

If you have ever worked with HTM5 Templates to create a website, you will be able to see the benefits brought in with the additions.

What’s Out: New Working Groups

HTML5 also allows a much greater modality within APIs. They picked up some of the existing and new specification, and then advanced them to a stage where they can now stand as a separate specification, on their own merit, while providing support for HTML5. The core vocabulary and features have been extended in several ways as part of the standardization of HTML5. Some of these newly separated specifications are listed below:

  • HTML Working Group – HTML Canvas 2D Context – has the mandate to make sure that HTML5 can be easily combined with other W3C specifications.
  • Web Apps Working Group – is the group responsible to develop web apps with end to end user APIs – Web Messaging, Web Workers, Web Storage, WebSockets, Server-sent events. However, this group was closed in 2015 and its mandate was transferred over to the Web Platform Working Group (WPWG).
  • IETF HyBi Working Group – WebSocket Protocol. Since WebSockets can be used by any user application to implement a web browser and web servers, it requires a separate protocol management, this group’s mandate is to control that protocol, while keeping it compatible with HTML5.
  • WebRTC Working Group – WebRTC. This group manages the real time communication aspect of the web browsers, like online chats.
  • Web Media Text Tracks Community Group – WebVTT. This group works on adding captions, subtitles and documents by tracking videos on the web.

Apart from this a renewed effort is being made to highlight the importance of DOM (document object model) scripting like JavaScript. Even though, it was already a separate established group.


After reviewing all the changes, additions and removals, we can easily conclude that HTML5 is an effort towards making internet browsing more user friendly, or we should say more user specific for today’s users. Thanks to HTML5, users no longer need additional plug-ins like Flash for videos or any other desktop app that helps in browsing, for that matter. Moreover, this version gives a better chance for future development to some of its inherent components like CSS3, WebSockets, IETF HyBi, while still using them for HTML5, by breaking them into separate specifications. New HTML5 Templates 2016 is a good example of the positives brought by the new HTML5 spec.

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