HTML5 to be completed by the end of 2014
The chairs of the W3C's HTML Working Group have presented a plan to approve a stable HTML5 specification before the end of 2014. The plan proposes to formally define a stable set of features as HTML 5.0, but when the HTML Working Group will approve this plan is as yet unknown. Features for which no stable specification is available by then could be moved to an extended "HTML 5.1" set of features that could be completed by 2016.
That the HTML5 concept is inherently designed to be modular would benefit this strategy, according to the chairs. "Many technologies that were originally defined in HTML5 itself" – for example Web Workers, WebSockets and Microdata – "are now defined in separate specifications, either in the HTML WG or in other Working Groups", they explained, adding that further areas could be removed temporarily to be re-integrated at a later stage.
The plan appears to be motivated by the fact that despite efforts such as the appointment of new co-editors in late July 2012, too many areas remain under construction, and there is too much variation in the development status of many others, to complete them all by 2014.
For web developers, the development of the official specification may seem rather irrelevant as, despite their unofficial status, many HTML5 features have long been integrated into the major browsers and are being used extensively. However, the absence of a definitive written standard continues to produce deviations that are based on interpretation, as well as "experimental" variations and extensions in implementations. Only an official ratification will create clarity, at least in terms of the approved features. In addition, the W3C's patent policy that intends to provide HTML5 as a royalty-free standard can only come into force once the specification has been approved.