HTML5.1 begins to take shape on GitHub

The next generation of the Web standard is using a GitHub repo for feedback and suggestions

HTML5.1 begins to take shape on GitHub
Credit: Flickr

With little fanfare, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has announced work has begun on the next iteration of the Web's most crucial standard, HTML5.1.

The interesting part: The spec is being shaped on GitHub, which used to manage much of the source code for the projects that use HTML5.

W3C says its plans for HTML5 are "to match reality better, to make the specification as clear as possible to readers, and of course to make it possible for all stakeholders to propose improvements, and understand what makes changes to HTML successful."

Early drafts the HTML5 spec began to surface back in 2008, but it wasn't until 2014 that HTML5 was considered an endorsed, official standard. Consequently, the W3C wants to make incremental updates "a reality that is relatively straightforward to implement," in order to avoid the years-long lag that hobbled the spec's last revision.

To that end, the W3C is using GitHub to speed up the process. Changes can be proposed by simply making a pull request, or some part of the spec that doesn't work in current browsers can be flagged by opening an issue. Features that aren't supported in "at least two shipping browser engines" are to be dropped, but without prejudice; there's always the chance they can be added in as an extension.

Developers have used JavaScript to provide de facto extensions to HTML5 without proposing changes directly to it. Google's Web Components, for instance, uses a JavaScript polyfill to provide support on browsers that don't have it (that is, anything not Google Chrome). W3C's idea is to make it as easy -- easier, even -- to contribute changes to HTML5 with the same mechanisms someone might use to work in Web Components.

The W3C's plan is to ship a "candidate recommendation" -- essentially a draft of the spec -- by June of this year, with a full recommendation document by September.

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