W3C: HTML 5 faces interoperability challenges

Web specification touted to allow more rich-format features to be written into Web sites runs into interoperability issues and declared not ready for production any time soon by consortium responsible for its development.
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor

Amid the growing clamor for HTML 5 among Internet vendors, a World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) official has attempted to temper expectations with the revelation that the programming language is currently facing interoperability issues and is not ready for deployment yet.

Philippe Le Hegaret, interaction domain leader for W3C, told tech site Infoworld on Wednesday that it is "a little too early" to deploy HTML 5 now as as the platform is currently "running into interoperability issues".

Responsible for specifications such as HTML and SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics), Le Hegaret added that W3C will be making changes to its API (application programming interface) and addressing issues that include differences between video on devices.

"The real problem is [whether] we can make [HTML 5] work across browsers and at the moment, that is not the case," he said.

IDC's industry analyst, Al Hilwa, agreed with Le Hegaret's assessment. He told Infoworld that the Web format is at various stages of implementation across the various Web browsers, with most of the "aggressive implementations" found in beta versions.

Hilwa said: "[Microsoft's] Internet Explorer 9, for example, is not expected to go production until close to mid-next year. That is the point when most enterprises will begin to consider adopting this new generation of browsers."

However, a source in the Web standards community had said in June last year that HTML 5 will only be finalized in 2022. While the format is officially announced to be on track to reach the W3C Candidate Recommendation stage by 2012, the insider revealed that the target is off by around a decade.

W3C's Le Hegaret, though, said HTML 5 is headed toward final approval in two to three years. "We basically want to be feature complete by mid-2011," he said. Following this, the W3C will issue a last call for comments, the candidate recommendation stage, and then the final recommendation stage before the format can be officially rolled out, he added.

However, a contentious relationship between W3C and the more informal Web Hypertext Application Working Group (WHATWG) could derail the specification process.

The WHATWG, which was formed by Opera Software, Mozilla Foundation and Apple, had worked on HTML 5 during the period W3C put the project on the backburner. Now that the latter is back in the mix, hostile interactions between both groups have caused some splintering in the specification process.

Apple and Google are currently two of the most vocal proponents of HTML 5 in the industry. Cupertino, in fact, aroused public ire when the company made it compulsory for people interested to find out about Safari 5, which was designed with HTML 5, to view the demo video only on Apple's Web browser.

Editorial standards