Using HTML5 wisely

The attention given to HTML5 in the last year is well-deserved. Despite the jockeying for a competitive advantage in the marketplace, the major players (Google, Apple, Microsoft, Mozilla and Adobe among others) have committed to the road map of HTML5 support. As important as this support is, if you are preparing to jump headfirst into developing HTML5 websites and/or applications there are some important considerations to keep in mind. HTML5 is still an evolving language and until the specification is finalized there may be some surprises still in store, and not necessarily the "good" kind of surprise. The web community was reminded of this in the beginning of November when news began to emerge that the new HTML5 <time> element was being pulled from the HTML5 specification. This element was among many new elements that have been introduced since development of HTML5 began in 2004. The news came as a surprise to many designers and developers (particularly those who had used the element in completed projects). The essence of the matter is this: the <time> element was intended to tag HTML content that included the date and time for any reason: a blog post, or the time an article was posted or any other scenario where the time was important enough to warrant being tagged. I'm not going to explore why this happened here (although if you are interested in learning more, there are many places to look), I'm more interested in the fact that it happened at all. The fact is, the language of HTML5 is still being defined. Although the majority of the new elements are here to stay and there will unlikely be many new elements being added, the dropping of the <time> element is a good reminder that the use of HTML5 requires some caution and attention to detail. It is a delicate balance to walk: builders of next generation websites want new tools in order to create new experiences for users, but these tools don't just get dropped into our laps. They emerge slowly and come into focus over time, hopefully based on community consensus. Ultimately, I believe this will make the foundation of HTML5 stronger than anything we have seen up to this point, but until the day the specification is finalized, keep a close eye on what's happening!