X/HTML 5 by Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WhatWG)

Web Applications 1.0, more commonly referred to as X/HTML 5, is a new version of HTML that is vying to replace HTML 4 and XHTML 1. The X/HTML 5 specification is being developed by the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG).

X/HTML 5 introduces new elements to HTML for the first time since the last millennium. New structural elements include aside, figure, and section. New inline elements include time, meter, and progress. New embedding elements include video and audio. New interactive elements include details, datagrid, and command.

Development of HTML stopped in 1999 with HTML 4. The W3C focused its efforts on changing the underlying syntax of HTML from Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML) to XML, as well as completely new markup languages like Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), XForms, and MathML. Browser vendors focused on browser features like tabs and RSS readers. Web designers started learning CSS and the JavaScript™ language to build their own applications on top of the existing frameworks using Asynchronous JavaScript + XML (Ajax). But HTML itself grew hardly at all in the next eight years.

Recently, the beast came back to life. Three major browser vendors—Apple, Opera, and the Mozilla Foundation—came together as the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WhatWG) to develop an updated and upgraded version of classic HTML. More recently, the W3C took note of these developments and started its own next-generation HTML effort with many of the same members. Eventually, the two efforts will likely be merged. Although many details remain to be argued over, the outlines of the next version of HTML are becoming clear.

This new version of HTML—usually called HTML 5, although it also goes under the name Web Applications 1.0—would be instantly recognizable to a Web designer frozen in ice in 1999 and thawed today.

Read the nice article by Elliotte Rusty Harold for details. The Future of HTML by Edd Dumbill could give some good idea about what going to happen next.

X/HTML 5 Working draft by WhatWG is here and this is the W3C Editor’s Draft for HTML 5.


  1. These are not two parallels efforts.

    The editor’s draft is just a copy with different styles. The W3C HTML WG has been set to benefit of the patent policy and of a wider review of the document.

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