Although the HTML5 spec won't be finalized until July 2014, the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium), has scheduled its "last call" for feature-completeness for this May. So what's missing?
According to the editor of the specification, refinement of the HTML5's multimedia capability is the only outstanding issue to be resolved before the W3C can move to the final stage of the HTML5 specification effort: finalizing the technical specs, getting final comments, and creating test suites to validate interoperability across browsers and other technologies, said Ian Jacobs, head of W3C communications. That last stage will take about three years.
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The multimedia holes in the HTML5 spec
The primary aspect of multimedia capability to be resolved this spring is multitracking for audio and video, though the W3C isn't committing to having this capability in the final HTML5 spec. Multitracking would, for example, enable a choice of spoken languages to accompany a video, allow the presentation of a video within another video, and permit applications like chat rooms to display simultaneous audio from multiple people.
Also possible to be added to the HTML5 spec after the "last call" are extensions to the
canvas 2D technology and the ability to mark up photo credits, said HTML5 specification editor Ian Hickson. He expects such additions to first come up in the WHATWG (Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group) HTML5 proposals, then migrate to the W3C effort through the W3C HTML working group chairmen. (The two organizations are collaborating on the HTML5 spec.)
One technology not slated for HTML5 is a standard video codec. Developers of the specification have been unable to find a satisfactory open source codec to use, so they are leaving each browser maker to choose its own codec and instead providing standard APIs for them to use in HTML5. "That's pretty much the deal," Hickson said. "HTML5 doesn't care what the codecs are," Jacobs added.
The lack of a video codec does not have to be resolved for HTML5 to be completed, said Forrester Research analyst Jeffrey Hammond. "It's a pain for developers, but [they] can work around it for the time being" by encoding in multiple formats, he said.