Scratching the surface of HTML5

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As posted in a very recent note; a short while ago a bunch of awesome web designers and developers had gotten together to delve through the HTML5 spec.

To me this was especially great, since I have just launched this HTML5 version of the blog. Now, while I love reading some good non-fiction books, I am not really a bookworm by trade. I have started out with HTML5 by just having a go at authoring and looking at feedback of the validator.

But since the conversation of html5 has been initiated, I am warming up to some reading material (thank god goodness for Instapaper) Anyway, I decided to do a write-up on what I have experienced during the creation of this blog – and the embryonic state that it is in right now.

Validation of XHTML and HTML

The spec should clarify that an author can use XHTML or HTML syntax, that it is a coding style preference.

I look at this as a given, seeing as I have heard that HTML5 did support the XHTML syntax, but I would call this a very valid point. This is easy to specify and already the current state of affairs. It is important to anyone who hasn’t followed the whole “XHTML is dead, long live XHTML“-shenanigan that HTML5 has both a HTML as well as an XHTML variation.

New Elements

Article and Section

We would like to encourage spec authors to be conservative in including new tags, and only do so when they addition of the tag allows for significant gains in functionality. For example, article and section are identical except that article allows a pubdate attribute.

At this time I am unsure if they are correct here. If we take a look at the publishing landscape of the web right now, I would much rather see the article element extended. I do get the rational sense of thinking that elements which are 95% identical will make for a lot of discussions between web developers, designers and authors, but I would love for authors to take a run with the article element.


We are concerned that the footer element as defined is more restrictive than the header element.

I can not – for the life of me – figure out why the footer element is as restrictive as it is. This element threw me the most validation errors of all of them. If we take a look at the flexible use of the term ‘footer’, it’s only logical to give this element the same amount of freedom as the header element; especially if we take into account the fat footers, which have become very present on the web. Not changing the flexibility of the footer element would only result into people authoring <section class="footer"> -- FOOTER CONTENT -- </section> and that shouldn’t be the case, now should it?

Of course, this is just my humble opinion. Therefore the HTML5 Super Friends have come with an extensive proposition for our beloved Ian Hickson.

Update: The footer elements has been updated in the latest version of the HTML5 spec. The element has been extended to be more like the header element. It is great to see such actions taken with care at an amazing pace.

The Big Kahuna: ARIA

Whilst currently not included in the spec, the integration of ARIA is something that would push the value of HTML5 – as a semantic, accessible authoring language – forwards by leaps and bounds. This especially if we take a look at current practices related to the div element, widely adopted microformats such as hCard and minor ARIA classes that are invalid but actively being used the default WordPress template. I sincerely hope the integration of ARIA gets tackled before Last Call, and I will have a go at it when it has been entered in the draft.

I am getting really thrilled and inspired with all the talk going around at the moment, especially because I think we have to focus more on progressive enhancement and getting the web to a better place fast.

Expect more extensive posts on HTML5 from me in the near future, because this post has not even scratched the surface (the title would suggest otherwise) of what this mark-up language has to offer us – not just from an authoring perspective.

So there will be more about elements in the likes of figure, progress, dialog, time, cite and – of course – the almighty canvas.

Welcome to the rollercoaster.