How will HTML 5 change the Web?

The process, which began back in October 2005, has now reached the point of a public working draft which reveals major changes to how the syntax, the language, and how APIs connect.

HTML illustration from Thinkquest
If 2007 was the year of GPLv3, then 2008 will be the year of HTML 5. (Picture from ThinkQuest.)

Just as we spent much of last year debating the revision of our most popular open source license, we're invited to spend this year having similar discussions around HTML.

The W3C is now seeking public comment on a major update to HTML, the HyperText Markup Language which translates what I've typed into what you see through your browser.

The process, which began back in October 2005, has now reached the point of a public working draft which reveals major changes to the syntax, the language, and how APIs connect.

The aim is to standardize how improvements to Web pages work, which should cut software development costs. The result should be backward-compatible to older versions. Your future browser should read older Web pages fine.

Reaction among those who have worked on the draft is relief. "It took several years and will take some more, but we’re making progress," writes Anne Van Kesteren, who works on Opera as well as Web standards.

In my humble opinion, the current draft is excellent work. New features like the dialog tag, the creation of new area elements, and the XML compatible syntax are all good news.

The other important point about standardization is it will bring browsers together in some ways. Pages will display similarly regardless of which brand of software you use. As someone who creates content I find this a very good thing indeed.

But take a look and let me know what I've missed.

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