HTML: What's next?
The short story is that we are working toward an HTML 5.1 Recommendation later this year. The primary goals are to provide a specification that is a better match for reality, by incorporating things that are interoperable and removing things that aren't.
We also want more people and organisations to get involved and make sure the development of HTML continues to reflect the needs and goals of the broad community.
As an important step down that path, the editors (Arron Eicholz, Steve Faulkner and Travis Leithead) have published the Editors' Draft in github, and by using bikeshed to build it we have made it easier for people to propose an effective edit. Different kinds of edit require different levels of effort, of course…
Fixing a typo, or clarifying some text so it is easier to understand, are easy ways to start contributing, getting used to the spec source and github, and improving HTML. This level of edit will almost always be accepted with little discussion.
Meanwhile, we welcome suggestions - ideally as pull requests, but sometimes raising an issue is more appropriate - for features that should not be in a Recommendation yet, for example because they don't work interoperably.
Naturally proposals for new features require the most work. Before we will accept a substantial feature proposal as part of an HTML recommendation, there needs to be an indication that it has real support from implementors - browsers, content producers, content authoring and management system vendors and framework developers are all key stakeholders. The Web Platform Incubator Community Group is specifically designed to provide a home for such incubation, although there is no obligation to do it there. Indeed, the
picture element was developed in its own Community Group, and is a good example of how to do this right.
Finally, a lot of time last year was spent talking about modularisation of HTML. But that is much more than just breaking the spec into pieces - it requires a lot of deep refactoring work to provide any benefit. We want to start building new things that way, but we are mostly focused on improving quality for now.
The Working Group is now making steady progress on its goals for HTML, as well as its other work. An important part of W3C work is getting commitments to provide Royalty-Free patent licenses from organisations, and for some large companies with many patents that approval takes time. At the same time, Art Barstow who was for many years co-chair of Web Apps, and an initial co-chair of this group, has had to step down due to other responsibilities. While chaals continues as a co-chair from Web Apps, joined by new co-chairs Adrian Bateman and Léonie Watson, we still miss both Art's invaluable contributions and Art himself.
So we have taken some time to get going, but we're now confident that we are on track to deliver a Recommendation for HTML 5.1 this year, with a working approach that will make it possible to deliver a further improved HTML Recommendation (5.2? We're not too worried about numbering yet…) in another year or so.