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Put the champagne away: W3C says it's too early for HTML5 conformity celebrations

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November 18, 2010

After early HTML5 conformity testing gave Microsoft's IE browser an early lead, the W3C re...

After early HTML5 conformity testing gave Microsoft's IE browser an early lead, the W3C reminds us that it's still early days

You may remember that Internet Explorer did quite well in the early rounds of conformity-testing for the next version of the web document creation language – HTML5. The very observant amongst you may also have noticed some subtle changes to the test suite page implemented as a result of the publicity generated by the initial results. A notice has now appeared advising visitors that the test suite is still very much in development and the crowning of any interoperability winners is somewhat premature.

As mentioned previously, the HTML5 conformance test suite in which Microsoft's latest build of Internet Explorer did rather well consisted of around 200 tests and development is ongoing. The W3C's Ian Jacobs told Gizmag that he expects tens of thousands of compliance tests to make up the test suite as it gathers pace. As such, the preliminary results reflect a very rough guide to the current status of compatibility.

Even though the Consortium's Philippe Le Hégaret confirmed that "there is an advantage to figure out where we have interoperability issues already" and although we don't want to take anything away from Microsoft's early promise, the winner's crown has been returned to the locked cupboard for now.

Not only is the test suite in the early stages of development but the HTML5 language specification itself is still in working draft format. Hopes are that it will enter the final stage of its development process by May next year. After that, there's no telling how long it will take, but if the buzz so far is anything to go by, browser vendors and web developers alike are champing at the bit.

"There's a lot of excitement and implementations are coming along quickly," said Jacobs. "The test suite we are developing will help ensure interop among the various tools."

All the publicity generated by Internet Explorer being crowned winner in the first round of HTML5 testing has given the process a boost according to Jacobs: "Numerous people apparently signed up to contribute to the test effort. That's great news. The W3C management team has also made a commitment of resources to the effort, and all the browser vendors in the WG seem eager to contribute. So, while we are at the very beginning of this effort, it looks promising."

So how do we interpret the results as they stand at the moment? "It's too early to comment, certainly from the perspective of the test suite that W3C is compiling," Jacobs told us. "We fixed our page to give a clearer statement that this is a (public) draft and that we're only in the earliest phases of gathering tests."

HTML5 is not the only new web technology to undergo interoperability testing – style support amongst browser vendors is also important of course and the W3C's latest CSS test suites are in various stages of development. As with HTML5, input from all the online community is vital. Le Hégaret has called for people who care about HTML5 interoperability to come and help make it better.

Anyone interested in getting involved is invited to visit the W3C's HTML5 testing page for more information.

About the Author
Paul Ridden While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag.   All articles by Paul Ridden
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