HTML5 isn’t an official standard yet, but the move to what the W3C calls “Candidate Recommendation” (CR) status means that the spec is largely stable, features are frozen, and testing can begin. In other words, the W3C is on track to publish the final version of HTML5 by 2014.
While developers targeting modern web browsers are already using HTML5 and many of its accompanying APIs, the move to CR status is nevertheless important because it marks the beginning of the interoperability and testing phase. Testing helps ensure that HTML5 can be implemented compatibly across browsers, servers, authoring tools and the dozens, if not hundreds, of other potential HTML5 clients — think your television, your car, your refrigerator and beyond.
HTML5 will likely be the language of the fabled Internet of Things and the lengthy testing period — the W3C plans for testing to last through 2014 — is designed to make sure that everything in the web of the future plays nicely together.
To go along with HTML5′s progress, the W3C has also published the First Public Working Draft of HTML5′s successor — HTML5.1. Although the W3C has “modularized” much of HTML5 over the years, spinning off sections like Web Workers, WebSockets, Microdata and half a dozen others, which are all now separate specifications at the W3C, the group plans to continue with versioned releases as well.
At the moment there isn’t much to see in the HTML5.1 spec, but look for the HTML5.1 draft to grow as new ideas are proposed.
It’s worth noting that, while the CR publication is generally a good thing, there are still over 100 known bugs and not everyone is happy with the decision to move HTML5 forward. But moving forward it is. After the CR stage is finished, the next step for HTML5 will be “proposed recommendation” status. From there HTML5 will become a final standard — if all goes according to plan — in 2014.