The World Wide Web Consortium has advanced HTML5 to a candidate recommendation, essentially saying that the 5.0 version of the specification is locked down and compete.

This should be good news, especially in the Bring-Your-Own-Device world, where HTML5 and the accompanying W3C Web specifications have become the platform of choice for developers creating applications that must run on desktops, tablets and smartphones, with different operating systems and different form factors, all while maintaining an excellent user experience.

Unfortunately, the specification is not locked down, as the W3C states. That’s because another group—the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG)—is also working to advance HTML. The WHATWG split off its efforts from the W3C back in 2004, when it believed that the W3C had given up on HTML to focus its efforts on XML and XHTML.

In 2007, the W3C adopted the WHATWG specification as HTML5. And according to W3C communications director Ian Jacobs, the groups have been working together to a point, and have agreed that WHATWG’s work will be called the “living standard,” while the W3C’s work will be called a “snapshot” of the specification, frozen at a point, put through review and comment, and then earning status as a W3C recommendation.

The idea of a living standard, according to WHATWG editor Ian Hickson, is that it is constantly receiving additions and being cleaned of bugs; it is not subjected to the slow, laborious process of the W3C. Yet it is that very rigor that makes a specification something an industry can universally trust and rely on.

This bifurcation is not good news for developers, their managers, or the industry as a whole. Now, browser providers, device manufacturers and application developers will have to consider which of these supports which standards. If you write to some of the new features in the “living standard” that aren’t yet part of a W3C specification, yet the browser or device doesn’t support them, the website or application will not render as intended. And as we’ve come to learn, an application’s success or failure in today’s world comes down to two things: performance, and user experience. If either is degraded because of disparities in the specification, everyone loses.

The groups forked off over XHTML. The W3C has since acknowledged that was the wrong path to take. The sides need to put their egos and control issues aside, and work to advance one true HTML5 specification.

HTML5 has the potential to make the lives of developers creating cross-platform applications a whole lot easier. The specification itself is quite complex, both to implement within a browser, and also to target as a developer. Let’s not let the specification create unnecessary issues.
What we expect in 2013
Breaking news headline: The world is changing. No, really. Who would have believed that at the end of 2012, Microsoft would be hailed as an innovator, Apple would be reeling from a Maps fiasco, Hewlett-Packard would be imploding, IBM would be quietly printing money, and Oracle wouldn’t be involved in a hostile takeover bid?

Well, okay, let’s be honest: We could have predicted some HP-oriented bad news.

We will now go out on a limb and make predictions for 2013. If we are correct, we expect to be lauded as true visionaries. If we are wrong, well, never mind.

• Windows 8 will gain traction with consumers. Windows 8 is nothing but controversial, but by mid-year, we expect consumers to love the touch-screen capabilities of their desktops, notebooks and tablets. The user experience is truly innovative, and for casual users, the new interface will prove compelling.

• Windows 8 will not gain traction with enterprises. Too much software, too much training, too little benefit: Enterprises will stick with Windows 7, or find a way to permanently disable the new user interface and stick with the Start button.

• Windows Phone 8 will begin to make inroads, but Android will continue its lead, and iOS will fall behind. Unless it has a breakout product, Apple will be hurt by its endless stream of incremental upgrades, such as this year’s slightly taller iPhone and slightly smaller iPad. Meanwhile, Google’s aggressiveness and the creativity shown by Samsung, LG and others will push Android forward.

• The cloud will become so ubiquitous that we will stop talking about it. The novelty will wear off from doing builds in the cloud, using cloud-based source-code control systems, using a cloud-based IDE, testing through the cloud, coding using cloud application-programming interfaces, leveraging cloud-based storage, or deploying into the cloud. It will simply be how software is done.

• The same is true with agile ALM. Enterprise use of agile methodologies and application life-cycle management tools will be simply assumed.

• Development teams will focus on testing. Whether driven there by mobility or by the cloud, it won’t matter: We will see decreased corporate and customer tolerance for buggy or insecure software. Developers will get more test training, more testers will be hired, and more outsourced testing services will be launched. It’s about time.

• The global economy will continue to recover, and investment in software (and software development) will lead the pack. We believe that 2013 will be an excellent year to be a software developer, development manager, consultant or software entrepreneur.

Happy New Year!