Skip to page content or Skip to Accesskey List.


Main Page Content

Too Soon To Advocate Html5

Rated 3.89 (Ratings: 0)

Want more?

Picture of aardvark

Adrian Roselli

Member info

User since: 14 Dec 1998

Articles written: 85


At the site Rebuilding the Web there is plenty of content questioning the current process and chaos around HTML5 and related specs. A piece that drew my attention echoes the dust-ups I have had over HTML5 (and XHTML2) and whether it's a good idea to push it so hard when it isn't even an approved spec. Check out Is it irresponsible to advocate using HTML5 before it is ready? to see some interesting examples. If you are new to the developments in HTML5, read my post The Latest on HTML5 from last week.

Given how few people actually code HTML by hand, and given how so many web sites are powered by some sort of CMS, WYSIWYG editors have become a de facto truth for how most web page content is marked up (except this one, of course). As a result, HTML Tidy (originally a W3C project, the same standards body working on HTML5) has been incorporated into many editors to help remove and clean terrible, invalid markup.

The problem is HTML5 is so lax in its requirements, as compared to previous versions of HTML, that HTMLTidy can be more of a hindrance. For example, the HTML5 doctype is so truncated that HTMLTidy sees it as an error and sets it to HTML3.2. It is now legal to wrap block level elements in anchors, something that a WYSIWYG editor (like CKEditor or TinyMCE) would immediately try to re-nest, resulting in a potentially broken hyperlink and extra elements to satisfy the nesting.

With the examples in the article, I certainly cannot foist an HTML5 site on my clients. It would render their WYSIWYG editor potentially dangerous to their page content. And for those clients who can access and manage the templates used by the CMS, we run the risk of making their existing editors, or even HTML knowledge, useless.

It is far too soon to advocate HTML5 for client projects or real-world applications. We need a final spec that is free of infighting among its authors, we need browsers to support the core elements, and we need WYSIWYG editors that can understand this new syntax without the need to retrain our users.

A founder of, Adrian Roselli (aardvark) is the Senior Usability Engineer at Algonquin Studios, located in Buffalo, New York.

Adrian has years of experience in graphic design, web design and multimedia design, as well as extensive experience in internet commerce and interface design and usability. He has been developing for the World Wide Web since its inception, and working the design field since 1993. Adrian is a founding member, board member, and writer to In addition, Adrian sits on the Digital Media Advisory Committee for a local SUNY college and a local private college, as well as the board for a local charter school.

You can see his brand-spanking-new blog at as well as his new web site to promote his writing and speaking at

Adrian authored the usability case study for in Usability: The Site Speaks for Itself, published by glasshaus. He has written three chapters for the book Professional Web Graphics for Non Designers, also published by glasshaus. Adrian also managed to get a couple chapters written (and published) for The Web Professional's Handbook before glasshaus went under. They were really quite good. You should have bought more of the books.

The access keys for this page are: ALT (Control on a Mac) plus: is an all-volunteer resource for web developers made up of a discussion list, a browser archive, and member-submitted articles. This article is the property of its author, please do not redistribute or use elsewhere without checking with the author.