Last Call for HTML5

After three years of development and debate, there is light at the end of the tunnel for HTML5. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) on Monday announced that the “last call” date for HTML5 would occur in May of this year. The W3C also announced that testing will extend until 2014, at which point HTML5 will be declared an official W3C specification.

With the move for a last call, the W3C is formalizing the process by which HTML5 will be completed and eventually widely adopted by Web developers and users.

Ian Jacobs, head of W3C communications, explained to that the last call is essentially a feature freeze. Once it is put in place, new features are not going to be added to the HTML5 specification. Instead, in May, the W3C will enter the implementation phase for HTML5, which is all about testing and interoperability, Jacobs said.

The testing phase will last until the first quarter of 2014, followed by a final review phase that will last four additional weeks. Then in the second quarter of that year, HTML5 will become an official specification.

Work first began on HTML5 in 2007 and multiple browser vendors have already implemented numerous features of the specification, including the canvas, audio and video tags. With integrated audio and video in HTML5, browser vendors do not need to call on an external video player, such as Flash Player, in order to play video.

“The exciting part is that we are seeing such dedication by the browser vendors to implement the HTML5 specifications,” Jacobs said. “There are some things that are implemented with great interoperability and some areas where there is not yet interoperability.”

As part of the testing phase for HTML5, the W3C will be working on a comprehensive set of test suites to ensure the interoperability of HTML5 specs across browser implementations.

While the last call date for HTML5 is coming soon, Philippe Le Hégaret, interaction domain leader at the W3C, told that there are still a number of contentious issues that have yet to resolved, as well as new features that are likely to be added. One such new feature is extended support for multi-track.

“In HTML5 there is support for a track element which allows you to have multiple text descriptions related to the video that is being played,” Le Hégaret said. “We’re now looking to extend that support beyond text to audio and video as well.”

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

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