Do you remember what happened on the night before Christmas in the last year of the last millennium?
HTML 4, or (to be more precise) the HTML 4.01 Specification, was published.
Nearly fifteen years later, the name has jauntily shed its space, and HTML5 has finally reached official status with the publication of HTML5 – A vocabulary and associated APIs for HTML and XHTML.
It was just 18 months ago that we were singing, “It was twenty years ago tonight/That Sir Timbo brought the web to light” (to the tune of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band).
That was our celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the Word Wide Web.
So, of the 21.5 years that the WWW has been going strong, 15 have been spent getting from HTML 4 to HTML5.
That’s quite a journey!
The new standard, which carries a the very uncombative designation of Recommendation, runs to an impressive half-a-million words, or just over 1% of the length of the last-ever print edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica.
Of course, many of us have happily and openly considered ourselves HTML5 developers, publishers and users for many years; now we can not only claim this status officially, but be held to account if we are not truly compliant.
As the press release of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) puts it:
HTML5 brings to the Web video and audio tracks without needing plugins; programmatic access to a resolution-dependent bitmap canvas, which is useful for rendering graphs, game graphics, or other visual images on the fly; native support for scalable vector graphics (SVG) and math (MathML); annotations important for East Asian typography (Ruby); features to enable accessibility of rich applications; and much more.
Indeed, HTML5 ought also to be the beginning of the end of Flash, too; if you still have Flash installed in your browser, you might want to try uninstalling it and seeing whether you can live without it.
Given that HTML5 is part of your browser anyway, with any security risks that might imply, getting rid of browser Java and Flash altogether just means two fewer products to update, and two fewer fruitful sources of vulnerabilities that crooks love to exploit.
The W3C admits in its release that “HTML5 has been in use for years,” not least because an official definition was published nearly two years ago.
However, the W3C also points out that the new Recommendation now includes a series of tests that can help developers stick to a truly cross-platform standard, as well as commitments to royalty-free licensing for many of the technologies embraced by HTML5.
Indeed, the latest Recommendation is touted as the way to achieve:
[T]he "write once, deploy anywhere" promise of HTML5 and the Open Web platform.
Write once, run anywhere?
Now where have we heard that before?
Learn more about browser-based threats in the Sophos Threat Report