A Whole Lotta HTML5 Love

With the flurry of HTML5 tweets this past month, I felt it was somewhat easier to park some of them in a blog post. Retweeting was adding to the confusion for a non-HTML5 person like me.

Despite not using HTML5 myself (so far), I do try to keep up-to-date on whatever may affect my profession (technical communication), and I like to know what resources are available when I do need more information. This post is a collection of such resources, which I hope will be useful to everyone who passes by.

The HTML5 debate is very dynamic and very much alive. This post lists blogs or sites where the discussions are taking place. Those blogs or sites have many more links…

What's the 411 on HTML5?

You might need a quick history lesson about the birth of HTML5 before you go anywhere else.

Recently, W3C announced that the XHTML 2 Working Group is expected to stop their work by the end of 2009, and that W3C will increase resources on HTML5. The W3C Technical Architecture Group (TAG) has begun to take an active role in helping the W3C to develop future versions of HTML.

(For some comic relief, try this comic for size.)

Enter Accessibility

The wonderful initiative for Web accessibility over at W3C is not really that well known outside the circle of those who work directly with accessibility or who are interested in accessibility. Painful, but true. However, accessibility features must "be integrated from the start, in the specs as well as in the tools that implement them", as Bert Bos wrote in his essay on W3C's design principles. Therefore, the awareness-raising accessibility evangelism (or activism?) must continue.

From my point of view, I saw people in the accessibility community express growing concern about less dedication to accessibility in the construction of the HTML5 specifications. For example, concern about the methods for gathering the data to support decisions were expressed in Steve Faulkner's HTML5 and alt: The editor's new clothes, as well as in a W3C mailing list discussion about making complex data tables more accessible to screen-reader users.

If HTML5 is so important that it gets all the focus, then efforts must be made to ensure that such an important resource is accessible. This is where the brouhah begins.

Thank goodness there are people who believe in the need for accessibility and who are willing to slog through long and tedious discussions to make the foundation of our Web-based world accessible to all.

Let's start listing all the good references that were written or referenced in July.

Semantics and extensibility

A few useful articles in this category are

Critical discussions about HTML5

The race is on. The mailing lists are home to nitty-gritty debates. You are welcome to subscribe to them if you have the time and inclination. Sometimes, the blog posts are adequate guidance – or a good opportunity for someone to describe some aspect in more detail. (HTML5 would never fit into a tweet. It's equivalent to 800+ printed pages of paper. Ugh!)

I'll round out this list with an article that suggests "a new way forward for HTML5". The author realizes that W3C has pretty much declared that the future for markup language on the Web is HTML5. [Website not active—No longer available.]
The author proposes a harmonious way to move forward on development of the HTML5 specifications. "By adopting some or all of the proposals (…), the standards community will ensure that the greatest features for the Web are integrated into HTML5." Do pay particular attention to this article's description of what has been wrong with HTML5. [Website not active—No longer available.]

Playing with HTML5

If HTML5 is not finalized, can you use it? Yes, you can use HTML5 today. You can even consult the HTML5 Doctor when you run into trouble (of the HTML5 kind). Maybe your bouncing baby HTML5 site will be showcased in the HTML5 gallery?  Updated

Do you use WordPress? Try Karl Dawson's "Brave New World" theme that incorporates HTML5. Or Bruce Lawson's HTML5 theme.

Don't forget the quality assurance testing tools for your HTML5 pleasure.

Alexis Deveria made an excellent set of compatibility tables for features in HTML5, CSS3, SVG, and other upcoming web technologies. Definitely a resource to boomark!


Along with the HTML5 discussions popping up all over, you find many discussions about ARIA. I know we have tweeted and blogged about ARIA before, but it bears repeating. All those Rich Internet Applications (a.k.a. RIA) that every drools over? They are missing an "A". Yes. It should be Accessible Rich Internet Applications, or ARIA. We have come so far with accessibility, some fancy-schmancy "rich" glitz is added, and boom, we're knocked back to the beginning, excluding the audience that requires those accessible features. Read and bookmark the WAI ARIA pages of the W3C, if this is news to you.

These ARIA links belong to the HTML5 theme of this post:

Thank yous – the reference list

I did not go out and collect all these tips on my own. They came to me via Twitter. The marvelous Twitter resources for this post (and some more in the coming days) are listed here. In fact, they should stand as the collective authors of this and coming posts.

There are many brilliant followers of our account. I have only listed those who led me to the specific HTML5 information I have used here. All are loved dearly, so I apologize if I did miss someone. A lot of tweets went into this post!

Safety precaution

A final comment. Some of the discussions around HTML5 and its satellites can be a bit, well, they're not for the faint-hearted. To be honest, as a purveyor of accessibility tidbits to technical communicators, I have initially been reluctant to share some information because I felt the tone of discussion left something to be desired. However, Martin Kliehm has shared a safety tip at people.csail.mit.edu/rahimi/helmet/ [no longer available as of 4 March 2014] to help you navigate the HTML5 waters. :)