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HTML 5On May 25, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) announced that the HTML 5 specification and five other related specifications had reached Last Call status for the first time. A "Last Call" is a major milestone in the standardization process of a W3C technology.

It indicates that the initial drafting stage is finishing up, and that interested parties should do a final review of the specification and submit any important issues they find. It is common for Last Call specifications to revert back to Working Draft status to address issues that were submitted.

 

Once a specification passes the Last Call stage successfully, it advances to Candidate Recommendation, which is where implementors (like browsers) are asked to try implementing the technology and submit their feedback. Again, Candidate Recommendation specifications often get sent back to Working Draft status as issues are found. Finally, when a specification passes the Candidate Recommendation status, it becomes a Proposed Recommendation, which is usually a quick hop from Recommendation status -- a finalized W3C standard.

HTML 5 is the next major version of the HTML standard, effectively superseding both HTML 4.01 and XHTML 1.x (as well as XHTML 2, which was never completed and was officially abandoned in July 2009). The new version offers a number of additional features, which I summarized in a previous TechEDge post: HTML 5, The Good, The Myths.

Recently, there has been a push to get the HTML 5 standard finalized, largely due to the current incongruence between how browsers are marketing HTML 5 and where it actually sits as a standard (that is, it isn't really a standard yet). Ian Hickson, the main editor of the HTML 5 specification, previously suggested that it probably wouldn't be finished until the year 2022 or later. The W3C's current goal is to finish it by 2014. The browsers aren't waiting, especially given the proven marketing potential of "HTML 5", and all major browsers have begun implementing parts of the current HTML 5 drafts, well before they've reached Candidate Recommendation status.

I've said this before, but it's worth reiterating: HTML 5 shouldn't be confused with CSS 3, SVG, WebM/H.264, ECMAScript 5, browser performance, or any of the other distinct technologies that have been showcased under the misnomer of "HTML 5" demos. HTML 5 has a great deal of importance to Web developers, but it isn't the type of technology that "showcases" very well, so most of the marketing efforts by browser vendors try to dazzle you with unrelated technologies while only superficially touching on actual HTML 5 features.<>