July 14, 2008

The W3C is currently developing HTML 5 as an open and royalty free upgrade to HTML 4. Its development is entirely public with over 500 participants including companies like AOL, Apple, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Nokia and Opera.

This time around browser vendors and developers are working together to create the best possible version of HTML that meets the needs of modern and future web applications.

Much has changed since HTML 4 was published in 1997. The age of static web pages being cutting edge has long since faded and has been replaced by media rich and dynamic web applications that function on desktops as well as mobile devices like mobile phones and PDAs.

In-order to get as much feedback as possible, the W3C created the HTML Working Group in March 2007 as a forum for building a consensus around the new HTML standard and has since published a number of design principles and features to help guide the development of HTML 5 in a direction that truly represents the future of the World Wide Web.

Some of the more exciting feature additions and advantages are:

  • APIs for drawing two-dimensional graphics
  • Embedding Audio and Video
  • Maintaining persisted client-side data
  • Improved page element representation
  • The ability to choose a classic HTML or an XML like syntax


Structural Element Tags
One of the many interesting additions to HTML 5 is the inclusion of structural elements tags, e.g. header, nav, article, section, aside and footer. These tags are intended to replace the arbitrary DIVs that would have contained IDs and classes of similar names. These new tags make source code more intuitive and easier to read and allow specific rules to be applied as standard. They also eliminates the age old problem of conflicting naming conventions by providing a more standardised method of structuring HTML.

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Audio and Video Tags
Two of the most interesting tags to be added to this new version of HTML are the Audio and Video tags. These tags provided HTML 5 with a method of embedding multimedia elements in a page, which was previously provided by 3rd party plugins like Flash. It will also be possible to apply style and custom interfaces that provide playback functionality via DOM APIs and clients-side scripting.

Here is a list of the new tags planned for HTML 5 (this list is subject to change):

  • <article> Defines an article
  • <aside> Defines content aside from the page content
  • <audio> Defines sound content
  • <canvas> Defines graphics
  • <command> Defines a command button
  • <datagrid> Defines data in a tree-list
  • <datalist> Defines a dropdown list
  • <datatemplate> Defines a data template
  • <details> Defines details of an element
  • <dialog> Defines a dialog (conversation)
  • <embed> Defines external interactive content or plugin
  • <event-source> Defines a target for events sent by a server
  • <figure> Defines a group of media content, and their caption
  • <footer> Defines a footer for a section or page
  • <header> Defines a header for a section or page
  • <m> Defines marked text
  • <meter> Defines measurement within a predefined range
  • <nav> Defines navigation links
  • <nest> Defines a nestingpoint in a datatemplate
  • <output> Defines some types of output
  • <progress> Defines progress of a task of any kind
  • <rule> Defines the rules for updating a template
  • <section> Defines a section
  • <source> Defines media resources
  • <time> Defines a date/time
  • <video> Defines a video


Tag definitions from

HTML 5 is still a work in progress and may take another few years before it is finalised and few more before it is supported by today’s popular web browsers. The W3C welcomes and encourages feedback from individuals as well as software vendors and urges people to join the HTML Working Group to ensure that HTML 5 meets the need of today’s web users, designers and developers.