The Meaning of HTML5

Thijs van der Vossen

How would you define HTML5? Choose:

  1. HTML5 is exactly what’s specified in the HTML5 W3C Working Draft. Nothing less, and certainly nothing more.

  2. HTML5 is a broad set of new technologies being implemented in most browsers. It includes video playback, a drawing surface, drag-and-drop, geolocation, CSS transforms, animation, GPU support, Webfonts, SVG, faster JavaScript, WebGL, and more awesome stuff.

The first is the only correct answer. The second is probably better.

Thanks to Apple not allowing Flash on the iPad, most people already use the broader definition. You could try to point out to these people that the typography and animation features aren’t actually part of the specification, but they’d just think you’re being a pedantic ass. They’d be right.

HTML5 has turned into a catchy buzzword for the new cool stuff, just like ‘Ajax’ and ‘Web 2.0’ a few years back. Most of the ‘Ajax’ apps didn’t use any XML and weren’t even asynchronous. That didn’t matter because most of it was a lot better than what came before.

Because of HTML5, developers are excited to try out new stuff, browser makers are rushing to improve standards support, and users are downloading new web browsers. When all of that is happening, It doesn’t matter who got their definition wrong.