HTML 5: update required by standard

2010/02/01 Leturia Azkarate, Igor - Informatikaria eta ikertzaileaElhuyar Hizkuntza eta Teknologia Iturria: Elhuyar aldizkaria

HTML (HyperText Markup Language or Hypertext Marking Language) is the standard that defines the format that the contents of the web should have. Founded in 1991 by D. Sir Tim Berners-Lee, his latest version, 4.01, came out in 1999 adapted to the characteristics of the then Internet. But this version is not prepared for many of the features of the current web. HTML 5 comes to solve these shortcomings.
HTML 5: update required by standard
01/02/2010 | Leturia Azkarate, Igor | Computer scientist and researcher

HTML 4, obsolete

(Photo: © iStock Photo.com/Goldmund)

The latest version of the HTML standard is over 10 years old. The web of that time was mainly composed of text in format, images, links and forms, and in version 4.01 of HTML there are tags for these elements. Today, however, on the web abound audio, video, high-interaction applications (called RIA or Rich Internet Applications), mobile graphics, games, the ability to work offline, etc. And with only HTML cannot be indicated. Technologies like Javascript and AJAX help to get an interaction up to one level, but when you need a great interaction, or for other things, you can only use third-party plugins: Flash, Silverlight, JavaFX, Google Gears...

The main reason that the HTML standard is not updated throughout this time is that the international organization World Wide Web Consortium or W3C, which runs the web and HTML format, and its director Berners-Lee, have put forces in new intentions. Specifically, they have opted for the XHTML format (HTML format compatible with XML standards) as evolution of the current website and have worked in its version 2.0, and to define a new more powerful web, the semantic web (which we explain in the specimens of May and June 2009) and the formats for it (RDF, GROWL, SDL,...). That is why they saw no need for new HTML versions.

However, the semantic web was not created to replace the web we currently know, but to use it with it, and for many XHTML 2.0 it was too disruptive to evolve the current web (redesigned from scratch, without backward compatibility, too demanding...). And reality also showed that its use was very small. For this reason, with the aim of promoting the continuity of the HTML standard, several people from Apple, Mozilla Fundazioa, Opera and Google created in 2004 the WHATWG community (Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group) and started working on the first draft of HTML 5. In 2007, W3C also saw the need to make a new version of the HTML format and created a working group for it. They took as a starting point the proposal prepared by the group WHATWG, which since then has been perfecting and materializing.

HTML 5 adapted to the current website

In the HTML 5 version, the most relevant features of the web that we know today have been taken into account, which allows to create virtually any web application without the need for external plugins. In addition, there is an XML version of HTML 5, XHTML 5, which is now proposed to replace XHTML 1.

As for multimedia, for example, the only multimedia tag that allowed HTML 4 for images was img, while HTML 5 includes audio and video tags. In addition, it has the canvas label, a paint fabric that we can draw in real time and that we can combine with the new WebGL standard (graphic library to display 3D images in browsers). You can also interact with hardware elements connected to the computer like microphone, webcam, etc.

On the other hand, the labels have been removed to define the aspect, maintaining only the labels of meaning or structure and forcing to make the presentation through CSS (indicating the aspect of the HTML documents in independent style sheets). And they have created new semantic or structural labels, such as nava-menu, footer (footer) and article (article body). In the forms we can also enter new types of box, such as numbers, dates, times, email addresses, URL, searches... or accept what we want, by regular expressions. In addition, vector graphics can be directly inserted in SVG format and mathematical equations in MathML format. And the new API (functions for writing more advanced applications) also includes HTML 5: Data storage API for web applications when we are offline, API drag and drop...

They want to have the HTML 5 standard completed by the end of 2010. However, its parts are at different levels of acceptance, and some of the most recent versions of Internet browsers that have almost fully consolidated are already implemented, and are available to us. And it is that, in fact, there are numerous webs with demos of new HTML 5 capabilities, some really spectacular to be made empty HTML. Let's welcome the new HTML 5 standard!

Leturia Azkarate, Igor
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