After three short, or long depending on who you ask, years the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) HTML Working Group (news, site) has decided to transition the HTML5 draft specification to Last Call status. This might be surprising to some given the standard's existing presence on the web -- including the mobile devices. But with a standard consisting of more than a hundred specifications, something was bound to be consumed before it was fully baked.

W3C Stages

The HTML5 working group published its first draft within the W3C. Documents go through several stages:

  • any number of working drafts
  • Last Call Working Draft
  • Candidate Recommendation with a call for implementations
  • Proposed Recommendation
  • Recommendation

The Last Call Working Draft is a public invitation to comment on the technical soundness of  HTML5. Those who care about such things have about 10 more weeks to report bugs and then the W3C has until January 2012 to correct the issues. Although there are 48 hours left for voting to move to Last Call status, it's pretty much a done deal. 

But is HTML5 Really Ready for Last Call

But, maybe not. In further political contention with the working group, co-chairman Daniel Glazman and the Accessibility Task Force are raising red flags about the long contentious longdesc attribute, which was introduced in HTML4 and provides a long description for images. HTML5 is supposed to maintain backwards compatibility, but Glazman believes that until longdesc is added back it shouldn't go forward,

The longdesc discussion is not reflected in this document. The lack of longdesc itself is enough for me to refuse this document to move to LCWD. FWIW, there's is proposal from the HTML-A11Y Task Force dated 16-may... Longdesc should be in. I don't think this is reasonable to move to LC before this is resolved and fixed."

A complete record of feedback for the HTML5 is available on the W3C site. Anybody who has been following the development of HTML5 knows that if there were no politics at Last Call -- that would be surprising. We will likely see a few more years of the HTML5 show since the final recommendation isn't due for delivery until 2014.