The W3C have released a new logo for HTML5 in a fanfare of hyperbole:
It stands strong and true, resilient and universal as the markup you write. It shines as bright and as bold as the forward-thinking, dedicated web developers you are. It’s the standard’s standard, a pennant for progress. And it certainly doesn’t use tables for layout.
Seems like an admirable initiative on the surface of it, but you only have to pass a cursory glance over the FAQ to see why this logo has got so many people wound up:
The logo is a general-purpose visual identity for a broad set of open web technologies, including HTML5, CSS, SVG, WOFF, and others.
The problem is that HTML5 shouldn’t be used as an umbrella term for a group of associated technologies. HTML5 is a markup language, and using the term to describe a group of other technologies is just wrong. Jeremy Keith summarises the gripes with this misappropriation:
What we have here is a deliberate attempt to further blur the lines between separate technologies that have already become intertwingled in media reports.
Don’t get me wrong; I don’t mind if marketers and journalists use HTML5 to mean everything under the sun, but I expect working web developers to be able to keep specs separate in their mind. If Apple or Google were pushing this kind of fuzziness, I wouldn’t mind …but this is coming straight from the horse’s mouth (or, in this case, straight from the horse’s ass).
This logo branding nonsense is a real clanger by the W3C. Rather of quietly than facilitating the wider adoption and standardisation of web technologies, instead they’re trying to evangelise and influence the web ecosystem at the expense of muddying already murky waters.
The W3C strayed way off the path of web innovation when it set about specifying XHTML, and it took the strong-arming of WHATWG to get HTML5 back on the agenda at W3C. WHATWG has always been more responsive to what browser vendors and web developers are demanding by “paving the cowpaths”. Looks like this little branding exercise might just have been the catalyst for another shift in their approach.
While the W3C are making pretty pictures, WHATWG have announced:
- The HTML specification will henceforth just be known as “HTML”, with the URL
http://whatwg.org/html. (We will also continue to maintain the Web Applications 1.0 specification that contains HTML and a number of related APIs like Web Storage, Web Workers, and Server-Sent Events.)
- The WHATWG HTML spec can now be considered a “living standard”. It’s more mature than any version of the HTML specification to date, so it made no sense for us to keep referring to it as merely a draft. We will no longer be following the “snapshot” model of spec development, with the occasional “call for comments”, “call for implementations”, and so forth.
What this means is that the version numbering of HTML will be dropped: HTML5 will now just be referred to as HTML. It also means that as of now, WHATWG are considering their specification to be a standard — it will change, mature and evolve over time, but what they’re essentially is: the new version of HTML is production-ready.
This is a significant shift and it makes a lot of sense: most switched-on web developers have been using the new standard for quite some time.
UPDATE: Appears that the W3C have listened to the cacophony of noise surrounding their definition of what the HTML5 logo represents, and they’ve changed the FAQ to define it as:
This logo represents HTML5, the cornerstone for modern Web applications.
This is a good thing. But has the damage already been done? Has the W3C already tarred their reputation by showing themselves to be out of touch with opinion in the web development world (which can be vociferous at best)?