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What Is to Come in HTML.Next?

by Abel Avram on Apr 26, 2012 |

While W3C is still progressing with the current HTML5 specification, the work has started on HTML.Next, comprising a number of new elements and attributes, but no new APIs.

Michael[tm] Smith, a W3C Editor, has put together a number of elements and attributes that are planned for future versions of HTML, and are to be part of HTML 5.1, 5.2 or HTML6.  The two most important features are Web Intents and Web Components.

Intents are similar to Android Intents, but they are exposed to web applications which can register themselves as intent handlers. “For example, you can have a web application register itself as a photo editor which the user can call if they want to edit the photo,” said Smith.

Smith added that Web Components provide a “way of binding new behaviors to the elements in the DOM. It is something similar to XBL 2.0,” which is the XML Binding Language associating elements in one document with scripts, event handlers, CSS and other content models in another document.

Attributes

  • capture – belongs to the input element and provides access to the camera, microphone, camcorder, and the file system. According to Smith, the attribute is already implemented, but left for a later version of the specification, such as 5.1 or 5.2.
  • inputmode – helps displaying a specific type of keyboard, one optimized for entering letters, or numbers, or capitalization
  • download – the document author indicates he prefers the a element to be used for downloading a resource. The value of the attribute specifies the default name of the resource.
  • ping – used for hyperlink auditing

Elements

  • content – “Represents an insertion point in a shadow DOM subtree. The insertion point is replaced with the elements’ children at rendering time. The <content> element itself is never rendered.”
  • datagrid – an interactive and sortable representation of a tree, list or tabular data in the form of rows and cells.
  • decorator – specifies templates used in conjunction with CSS to determine the look and feel of various components of a page
  • element – used to define a custom element
  • intent – used to declare an intent
  • menuitem – a command associated with a menu item of a web application
  • reco – for speech recognition
  • shadow - “Specifies an insertion point, where the next-oldest shadow DOM subtree in element’s list of shadow DOM subtrees is rendered. The <shadow> element itself is never rendered.”
  • template – used to define blocks of inert markup text that can be activated later
  • tts – text-to-stream

Regarding template, Smith said that there is a discussion inside the HTML Working Group (WG) if the element is needed or not. The same is true about the reco and tts elements, some considering the respective functionality is more appropriate to be done via scripting. There is an ongoing discussion inside WG on markup vs. scripting, trying to decide what should be done through markup elements and what should be left to scripts.

For those interested in using HTML5, there are a number of resources showing how well HTML5 features are supported by browsers: The Web Platform: Browser Technologies, Can I Use…, and HTML5 Please. It is good to make use of these resources because some of the features initially included in the HTML5 specification are going to be dropped due to lack of implementation. One example is command, which Smith said that it will be removed from the HTML5 specification, because no browser vendor was interested in implementing it.

Regarding the future of the HTML5 standard, Smith noted that the current plan is for the specification to become a Recommendation by the end of 2014, at that point being stable enough to be safely adopted by the industry.

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