Emerging Tech

W3C warns HTML5 isn't ready for prime time

There is a ton of anticipation around HTML5 and some sites are experimenting with it already, but the W3C threw cold water on those experiments this week with a warning that the standard remains incomplete.

HTML5 is about to take the training wheels off the Web and unleash a new generation of Internet applications. That has Web developers, cloud computing startups, and the big three tech companies -- Microsoft, Google, and Apple -- salivating over the possibilities for new and improved Web products with desktop-like capabilities.

However, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the official governing body that oversees HTML5, warned the Web community this week that HTML5 is not a ratified standard and that implementing it too soon is not wise.

"The problem we're facing right now is there is already a lot of excitement for HTML5, but it's a little too early to deploy it because we're running into interoperability issues," said Philippe Le Hegaret, W3C interaction domain leader.

"We basically want to be feature-complete by mid-2011," Le Hegaret said. At that point, the W3C will open it up for a final call for comments from members and then move to the recommendation stage. "And then we're done," said Le Hegaret.

That makes it sound like it will probably be early 2012 before this thing is settled.

One of the most popular HTML5 features that has been talked about (and even implemented in a few cases) is its video capabilities, which companies such as Apple are counting on to eventually replace Flash. However, even that is still half-baked at this point.

HTML5 still does not have a video codec. It can't use the popular MPEG-4 format because it has "patent issues" according to Le Hegaret. Google is hoping that it's open source WebM format could become the default, but that is far from settled yet.

The other issue is digital rights management (DRM). HTML5 doesn't have it, because HTML5 is an open standard. Le Hegaret said, "If we are going to develop a solution for DRM which is open, it would be broken by a hacker within two days. There is no point of us doing that." Le Hegaret added that a compromise could be reached on DRM, but it is not currently a part of the road map.

For more on HTML5's lack of readiness, including more quotes from W3C, check out this InfoWorld report.

UPDATED, 10/11/2010, 9:25AM: Philippe Le Hegaret of the W3C has followed up with a blog post further clarifying his statements about HTML5.

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

36 comments
Duke E Love
Duke E Love

The browsers don't even support it yet. At the head of the pack is Google Chrome and it only supports about 85% of the spec LTIL. It will be a few years before it becomes a viable option.

nwallette
nwallette

IE only supports about 85% of HTML4/CSS2 and people still use it. ;-)

trjc1
trjc1

Let's face it, people, companies, global conglomerates, we're all impatient to use the latest technology, that's never going to change. Whether it is fully supported or not, there are deadlines and project pressures to build web apps that are faster and more efficient. That's what clients want. You're always going to face that question of should we jump on board something that's not fully supported or continue on using the current technology. I'm sure someone out there was excited about using HTML 4 when the first whispers about it were being heard. Although the significance is not the same in that comparison, it serves to illustrate how excited we are about using something newer, better, and faster. One day we'll be clamoring for HTML 6, that very well may be 2022, and that's not a typo folks, the way things are progressing.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

Parts have been removed. Bad form! Google cache has it however: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:TJZmxNew1HMJ:blogs.techrepublic.com.com/hiner/%3Fp%3D6369+W3C+warns+that+HTML5+is+not+ready+for+prime+time&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uk

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

Foul language and personal attacks aren't tolerated. For the most part, we rely on the forums to be self-policing (we don't have a ton of moderators running around like most forums this large), but TechRepublic also has the responsibility to keep this a civil environment where IT professionals can exchange useful information. Users tell us again and again that they are turned off by the in-fighting among "the regulars" around here. Still, we mostly tolerate it, except when it descends into foul language and personal attacks.

santeewelding
santeewelding

To cure in-fighting among "regulars" is for any one of them to stop being regular.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

from what I read (and you can to via Google cache) it was t_it-for-tat so who is being protected here... Users or Jason? Just asking - personally I like to see what went down being left alone as why else did you post any of it in the first place.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

Part of my job is to be a punching bag. Otherwise I wouldn't write controversial opinions. So it's not about anything that offended me personally. It got pulled because of the foul language and the fact that it devolved into personal attacks completely unrelated to the topic.

TexasJetter
TexasJetter

HTML5 is still in the draft stage so how could it be considered for "prime time". While current browsers support it in various forms, there currently is no ratified standard to be compliant with. In fact most timelines don't peg the official ratification to occur until 2022 (that is not a typo, twenty two years from now). It looks like HTML5 will take much the same path that 802.11n wireless has. Everyone wants to use it, because it promises a much better widget, so each vendor will implement their own version of it, with none truly compliant with the end ratified specification. In any event, my original question stands, who said HTML5 was ready for prime time?

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

The current year is 2010. Take another guess. ;)

TexasJetter
TexasJetter

Egg on face - I guess that what I get for making posts before my first cup of coffee :)

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

"Caffeine Low" is the only acceptable excuse for such a basic math error. :D

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

Sits back, hands behind bead....

trjc1
trjc1

I have read through all the various comments posted here and felt like sharing my thoughts. HTML 5 has been long anticipated by many and those who are the most interested in putting it to use obviously do not feel like waiting for W3C to finally make it's decision official. Something this potentially important, once it's gotten to a point where so many have already jumped on board, it's practically impossible to say Halt! It's not soup yet! You must wait while we deliberate, for however long we decide that time to be, and then feel free to implement HTML 5 to the standard we decide. Let's face it, once the cat's out of the bag, it's very difficult to get it back in. The amount of impatience shown just underlines the tremendous importance that many see in HTML 5. Can we blame them? Maybe. But I find it easier to empathize with them.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

And, you're right that people don't want to wait for it. Unfortunately, it is still incomplete so rushing ahead with too many critical features that rely on HTML5 is still not wise. It's a moving target at this point. The best thing we can hope for is that all of the enthusiasm and slightly-premature experiments will pressure the W3C to stay on track and get it locked down as soon as possible.

trjc1
trjc1

I'm glad to hear you say that. I wouldn't be happy to see it take until 2022 as one respondent suggested. I have to comment also on all the personal sniping I'm seeing just in this thread alone. It definitely turns my stomach to see such nonsense taking place and those involved should be embarrassed for themselves. Those know-it-alls need to mind their manners and not discourage others from posting potentially valid viewpoints without being subject to personal attack. In a way, it's too bad that there aren't moderators as in other forums, maybe these folks (putting it nicely) then could have been banned from future postings. That would take care of them.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

"hands behind bead..." I'm starting to think there's a beady little mind in there somewhere... ;)

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

you are part of the rebel alliance and a traitor! But I see the rebels have already been engaged.

Roc Riz
Roc Riz

My first thought is that if it isn't blessed by Mi?ro$oft, it won't go anywhere, as most people use Window$. The open source of it is laudable, however, in this day and age of corporatism, if it can't make money, it's not good.

Snak
Snak

Are you actually saying that if it's not ratified by Microsoft (however you spell it) then it's not valid? What tosh. Microsoft have spent years trying to foist THEIR 'standards' on the world by deliberately refusing to abide by W3C standards - it's the W3C's job to define standards; Microsoft should let them get on with it and then abide by them.

coprenicuz
coprenicuz

I mean $eriou$ly, the '$' in 'Micro$oft' wa$ funny for a while (about a decade ago). $o for the $ake of a rea$onable di$cu$$ion, can we plea$e forgo the $ophomoric u$e of the dollar $ign?

JCitizen
JCitizen

I'm not interested in stealing premium content, but I can see why people do it - because I'm fighting DRM issues on my media center everyday. It takes a very patient and knowledgeable person just to use content and get it to work with all the doofy schemes RIAA and MPAA want us to put up with! I really can't blame anyone for stealing content! They just want it to WORK!!

Justin James
Justin James

The source article in InfoWorld is AWFUL. Where did these quotes come from? Did he speak directly to the author? Are these from a blog post? When were these statements made? Etc. That's journalism 101. If you parse the source article carefully, you'll see that he was *not* speaking on behalf of the W3C, either. Here's the clue: "I don't think it's ready for production yet..." Not, "W3C doesn't think...", but "I don't think..." Just below that: "His advice on HTML5 was endorsed by industry analyst Al Hilwa of IDC." Again, "his" advice, not "W3C"s. Finally, this isn't exactly breaking news. No one ever said that the HTML 5 spec was complete, ready, or stable. No one. Anyone who claims that HTML 5 is ready is ignorant. J.Ja Edit: Clarified that it was the InfoWorld article that I thought was "AWFUL".

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

that this isn't just any member of the W3C. It's the W3C employee who's in charge of web standards. His job description: He "oversees the development of technologies that shape the Web's user interface, including HTML5, CSS3, SVG, WOFF, and Web APIs. In addition to his focus on developing W3C's open web platform standards, he oversees standards work in SMIL, MathML, Internationalization, Video on the Web and XForms."

Justin James
Justin James

Jason - This "the W3C is saying 'don't use HTML 5'" line is just not factual, at least not by the information that InfoWorld has presented. If you read their article, you will see that they have failed to explain the basic context around the quotes. In what capacity was he speaking? His official role, on behalf of W3C? Or as a private citizen? What were these quotes said in response to? A direct question? If so, what was the question? Were they comments posted to a blog? What's the URL so I can see them in context? And that's why I am annoyed here. Because this is a really inflammatory headline, and but it is based on an extremely incomplete set of information. We've *got* to do better than pass on what is (without further substantiation) rumors. It doesn't matter what his job role is or his technical credits. If he was not speaking in his official capacity, than the W3C isn't saying it. Even then, it *still* does not mean that it is the official position of the W3C. Indeed, as a member of the HTML 5 working group, who sees the emails on a regular basis and who has become fairly familiar with their process, I highly doubt that the W3C would ever formally take a stance like this. Really, you need to get InfoWorld to provide the full story, because without that information, it is a meaningless data point and nothing more. J.Ja

Justin James
Justin James

Jason - Thanks for the diligent follow up, especially on one of the few holidays of the year. That blog post is about what I suspected the original statements meant, that the HTML 5 spec is still in flux, which was never in any doubt. Still good to remind folks, though. Some sites are using HTML 5 in an experimental mode (like YouTube), but a few folks seem dead set on racing ahead with it... J.Ja

Justin James
Justin James

Jason - That's the best I could ask for. :) Thanks, and I look forwards to reading their response! J.Ja

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

I do have a message into W3C asking if they would like to offer any clarification on the story -- which has been picked up by lots of different news outlets. We'll see what they say.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

It looks like you read the comments and found something fun you could jump into and try to sound smart. It didn't work. I suggest reading. We take you much more seriously that way.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

To act like he's not speaking for W3C is silly. If you're the head of HTML5 and you make a public statement about HTML5. It's official. The timeline of HTML5 was stated. The drawbacks were stated. Will people start using it? Absolutely. But the point here is to avoid some of the madness that can happen in these types of incomplete standards situations. The worst example is, of course, 802.11n.

santeewelding
santeewelding

Practice for something that matters? Which, this subject doesn't. I hasten to add, Justin, that I am in complete agreement with your pro-forma. Everything you are saying, to me, demands a straight, upfront response. What you are doing is what I do. Nothing less in matters of reportage will do. Jason waffled. Then, he "really" isn't reporting. He is opining, with an artificial edge.

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