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No More Version Numbers For HTML 336

Posted by timothy
from the now-they'll-have-threat-level-colors dept.
An anonymous reader writes "HTML5 will be the last version of HTML that carries a version number. Ian Hickson, a Google engineer and editor of the HTML5 standard, announced that the language will be transitioned to a 'living standard' without version numbers. A bit like Chrome, if you will."
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No More Version Numbers For HTML

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  • Not a Standard. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, 2011 @04:13PM (#34943742)

    If you never finalize it's not a standard. This sounds like a Microsoft move to me.

  • terrible idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by godrik (1287354) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @04:15PM (#34943760)

    You'll get pages that becomes invalid with time despite they were valid before. That sounds like a very stupid idea.

    Until you name the revision by dates, which is basically the same thing as giving version numbers...

  • by MrEricSir (398214) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @04:15PM (#34943768) Homepage

    ...I can always render the latest HTML in Netscape Navigator. Right?

  • Um... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FatSean (18753) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @04:15PM (#34943770) Homepage Journal

    People will still need to differentiate between implementations of HTML that have different features...do they expect us all to just use the latest and hope nothing breaks?!

  • Slow Browsers (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, 2011 @04:15PM (#34943772)

    Wow, so now my browser has to interrogate every single element on a page to determine what's supported BEFORE going to plugins etc.

    Yikes...

  • Translation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dgatwood (11270) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @04:18PM (#34943810) Journal

    Microsoft got tired of people asking when they were going to fully support HTML 4....

    Now everyone will be able to say "We support HTML" even though nobody fully supports all aspects of the spec. Just like today, only nobody will be able to point their finger at any sort of milestone that they missed, so companies that drag their heels in standards compliance end up looking better.

    How is this a benefit again? It seems to me that we need smaller, more frequent milestones, not elimination of those milestones.

  • Living Standard? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ultranova (717540) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @04:19PM (#34943824)

    So, in the future it's impossible to figure out what browser supports what? Because, after all, browser support is dragging behind years even now. Or is that the very goal of Google? Make Chrome the de facto standard, and force everyone else to play the catch-up game?

    Seriously, don't do this "living standard" crap. At the very least use minor version numbers to identify a given set of standards. Don't force me to guestimate how a web page I write today is going to behave in browsers 5 years from now; let me specify what behaviour I want.

  • Problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Improv (2467) <pgunn@dachte.org> on Thursday January 20, 2011 @04:19PM (#34943832) Homepage Journal

    There will be no way to pressure browser developers to be compliant with "NGHTML 4.7" if we can't even talk about it because it lacks a name. It'll also be hard to enumerate features of releases, to decide what version of the standard we're talking about and have programmatic support for that, etc.

    This eliminates most of the benefits of having standards to begin with.

  • Re:Um... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by I8TheWorm (645702) * on Thursday January 20, 2011 @04:19PM (#34943834) Journal

    Yeah, I look forward to the "this site is compliant with some of HTML standards and not others because they're too new. We can't really define that for you because there is no version, so best of luck to you" badges.

  • Just like Chrome? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, 2011 @04:21PM (#34943862)

    Do they mean the browser Chrome? As in Google Chrome 8.0.552.237?
    Is 8.0.552.237 not the version?

  • Bad engineering (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cjcela (1539859) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @04:44PM (#34944162)
    We are in the hands of morons. A constantly evolving standard is bad news for everybody except maybe a few companies that sell HTML development tools. Fast forward 10 years, and we will not be able to read half of the web, and will need 10 different browsers to see our usual choice of sites. There is a reason for versioning. Keeping up with a website will be a pain. I guess I should not complain, many people will have a job thanks to this.
  • by DragonWriter (970822) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @04:55PM (#34944288)

    You'll get pages that becomes invalid with time despite they were valid before.

    That is a result of backward-incompatible changes, not the absence of version numbers.

  • Re:Um... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by I8TheWorm (645702) * on Thursday January 20, 2011 @05:04PM (#34944428) Journal

    It's still ok. I'll mail him a money order. Unfortunately it's for a higher amount, but he can just deposit it then send me the difference.

    All will be well.

  • by EdIII (1114411) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @06:08PM (#34945404)

    You'll get pages that becomes invalid with time despite they were valid before.

    That is a result of backward-incompatible changes, not the absence of version numbers.

    Quite true, but what I think the poster was saying is that without version numbers it would be impossible to claim they were "standards" compliant at any one time. So even if you wrote very good code that was compatible across 99% of all browsers out there, a few years go by and you look like lazy morons that just don't care.

    As for the backwards-incompatible changes, without version numbers you would really have no way to tell what you are doing anyways. Since you can't reference it by version number you would be forced to reference by a specific instance of a problem. The newest Firefox blah blah blah tends to have a problem with this, this, and this, and Opera v.x tends to have a problem with that, that, and that.

    Next thing you know the browsers will go versionless too and then at that point all you can do is drink heavily.

  • by The Moof (859402) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @06:29PM (#34945690)
    I'm guessing we've all had a project killed by feature creep, and they haven't. Essentially, that's what they're proposing: a spec with features constantly in flux without any milestones to aim for.
  • Re:Thanks google (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Skreems (598317) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @07:12PM (#34946260) Homepage
    A. I call bullshit on the "more stable" claim, except for a few key architectural decisions that Firefox is implementing as we speak, and B. I call bullshit on the idea that they're entirely a Beta product. Their rendering engine is a solid, stable external system that has gone through many non-beta releases. If they didn't have an 8 year stable product as the core of Chrome, it wouldn't be nearly as high quality as it is.
  • by Art3x (973401) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @11:29PM (#34948346)

    The HTML standards committee takes eternity and a day to finalize anything.

    Exactly. Ten years passed between HTML 3 and 4. Another ten have now passed from 4 to 5, and 5 is still not an official standard.

    Meantime, requests for features and API tweaks flow in, and all browsers are going ahead and building them (even IE!). If you froze the spec after so many features, you would be drafting HTML 8 before HTML 5 became standard.

    Second, I don't know about you, but I write web apps for a living, and I've used HTML since 1997, and never once did version numbers help me. By the time I got serious, it was HTML 4. But none of the browsers posted anything like "we are an HTML 4 browser," and if they did, they lied, especially Internet Explorer. To know what worked, you tested and read about tests other people did on each the browsers.

    Finally, the term "HTML 5" has already been stretched so much to be meaningless. I'm not even talking about the journalists who use it to mean things that you could do with 4. HTML 5 is huge: Canvas, video, audio, three persistent storage APIs and one session storage API, various APIs to do with the web address, geolocation, and others. Does a browser need to call itself HTML 4 until fully implements all of these? How would that help me?

    The only thing I have ever really looked for are those comparison tables with the red and green squares, like we've always done, to figure out what to use in my web page next.

  • by bradley13 (1118935) on Friday January 21, 2011 @06:57AM (#34950380) Homepage

    HTML 2/3/4, XHTML/1, and CSS/1 were all small, simple, understandable standards. Then the web got popular - in part because web standards and technology were so simple. Once the web had exploded, every damn company wanted to stick its oar in. CSS 2 took years, is overly complicated, but still just barely manageable. Look at CSS 3 - everybody's special wishes are in there - the thing is immensely complex and as a standard, frankly, it is therefore nearly useless. HTML 5 is much the same - too many special wishes and fancy features. One needs to take a weed-whacker to it and to CSS, to restore some degree of simplicity.

    Think of it this way: why is there a competition to see how well browsers score on the ACID tests? The standards ought to be simple enough that any decent browser scores 100%. The fact that this is not the case is proof that the standards are far, far too complex.

IF I HAD A MINE SHAFT, I don't think I would just abandon it. There's got to be a better way. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.

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