Oh boy. Just when I was all excited about HTML5 (well, I still am), there’s this little bombshell: after HTML5 it will be a living standard HTML. I thought it was a hoax, for a minute. If it is a hoax, please-please-please let me know.
The biggest problem is, of course, validation and compliance. As someone who still has to deal with IE6 I don’t have much trust in “compliance”, but removing versions altogether? Is that a good thing?
1. Your page will only validate at a certain point in time. It’s nice if all “next” revisions of HTML will be backwards compatible, but if not, it means that something validated on, say, October 26th 2011, but turned into a pumpkin with a stroke of midnight three months later, when “living standard” mutated into next revision
2. Browser support is going to get worse. If standard keeps changing, it means that browser has to evaluate more and more possible variations of interpretation before deciding that page is invalid, or it needs a plugin. For example, what if a year from now HTML will finally specify a codec for Video tag? Old video tags will become invalid, right?
3. What will be official browser report on supported features? FireFox 5 will support HTML “as of May 12th 2012” or something? Or there will be a giant vector of supported and not-so-supported sub-features?
4. If, for reporting purposes, people will have to specify revision or date number of the living standard, what’s the difference? Just take snapshots and declare them to be HTML6/7/8…
Opera will probably be sad, as saying “We support HTML standard that’s 3 weeks fresher than IE!” is not nearly as much fun as saying that you support HTML5 to 100% but IE doesn’t.
Google won’t care, because that’s how they deal with Chrome — quick succession of releases one after the other, even though they technically still keep a version number (will they do away with that too?)
Or, as one commenter said, Now we’ll have beta quality software and beta quality standards. Another engineer brainwashed.
Please keep the snapshots away, for the sake of web developers.