html5-logoThe work on HTML 5 specification started in the year 2004 and the completed specification will be available for browsers to implement, shortly. What is new, or has changed, since the previous HTML 4 specification, is something that may be of interest to web designers and web programmers (ordered by how I see it could be important to these professions). The official working draft of the HTML 5 spec is here

https://dev.w3.org/html5/spec/Overview.html, here I have extracted some info from that page with my own comments.

New tags

<video>

This tag will supposedly make it easier to embed video clips in web pages.

What attributes it has

Src attribute = Source of the video

Autoplay = Start auto play or not (user can press Shift during page load to stop auto play of embedded videos and animations)

What attributes don’t make sense

Loop attribute = This is supposed to loop over the video again and again, but why would anyone want a video to play again and again as if once is not enough?

What attributes it doesn’t have

Text equivalent = A brief descriptive keyword rich text of what the video is about, for vision-impaired users and for SEO purposes.

<audio>

This tag is supposedly for streaming audio files like MP3s.

What attributes it has

Src attribute = Source of the audio

What attributes it doesn’t have

Text equivalent = A brief descriptive keyword rich text of what the audio is about, for hearing-impaired users and for SEO purposes.

<canvas>

This tag is supposedly for drawable areas, 2D and eventually 3D. This can be useful for graphs, games, etc. It may eventually be possible, to code games in XML and render them with this tag. Since it is controlled by Javascript in HTML 5 standard, it is not of much use for accessibility, usability and SEO purposes, unless suitable attributes are added to descriptively explain what the drawing area is about.

<nav>

This tag is supposedly for defining navigation links to other pages, so you could give a hint to a search engine or an accessible browser, as to how your pages have been linked to each other internally. This will be more like ontological or semantic data so search engines could decide whether to show your internal linking structure as part of search results (if and when such a feature becomes available).

Other structural tags that are of significantly less importance

<section>

<header>

<footer>

<article>

<aside>

<figure>

<mark>

<time> - can provide descriptive hint to a search engine that this tag contains time

<meter>

<progress> - this tag is supposed to have the attributes of max and value, but I am not sure, how the progress bar is supposed to show the progress with only these 2 values.

Context menus

HTML 5 gives a method of defining contextual menus that activate upon right-click, using descriptive tags with nil javascript (which is still not properly indexed by search engines). Different areas of the browser screen can have different context menus defined using tags, attributes, and visual effects.

New form input types

The INPUT element can now have different types like

Datetime

Date

Time

Number

Range

Email

Url etc. and the browser will perform the validations before GETting or POSTing the data, without needing Javascript validation routines.

The following tags have been dropped in this specification.

<acronym>

<applet>

<basefont>

<big>

<center> - presumably you will need to use CSS to mimic the behavior of this tag, but dropping this tag is a bad idea.

<dir>

<font> - same as <center> above

<frame>

<frameset>

<isindex>

<noframes>

<noscript>

<s>

<strike>

<tt>

<u> - same as for <center> above

Character encoding syntax

You can now specify the character encoding of a document using <meta charset="UTF-8"> which is quite easy to remember.

Tags for user interaction

The new tags will allow the building of web applications easier.

<details>

<datagrid> - an interactive table, where the browser is able to handle sorting and other client side functions without needing Javascript or a round trip to the server.

<menu> - can provide a navigation or context menu option and can have label and icon attributes.

Simpler DTD definition

As per the specification, you can now use <!doctype html> to publish for the web as opposed to SGML to publish for pre-press (in print).

Summary

HTML 5 can make building web based applications far more easy and efficient, and aims at a simple and effective code structure to give an easy browsing experience.