HTML5 Fuzzies

Jeffrey Zeldman Presents

Yesterday, in response to something Tantek Çelik said here, Jeff Croft wrote a thoughtfully provocative piece arguing that informed web designers should encourage—or at least not worry about—the widespread misuse of the term “HTML5″ as a buzzword covering everything from CSS3 and web fonts to excitement about the new Webkit-powered mobile platforms:

…I think there’s actually a very good reason why we should, in fact, embrace the term “HTML5” as an overarching buzzword for this latest round of web standards and specifications. Our industry has proven on several occasions that we don’t get excited about new, interesting, and useful technologies and concepts until such a buzzword is in place.

“AJAX,” of course, is the canonical example of this. DOM scripting, XMLHttpRequest, and dynamic Javascript all existed long before the term “AJAX”. But it wasn’t until the clever term was coined that anyone really cared. As soon as we had a single, simple word we could all get behind, Javascript really took off. A proliferation of frameworks and libraries hit the scene, and suddenly we were all building dynamic web projects. And the term was misused. Badly. Left and right. Much of the great code being written didn’t use XML. Much of it wasn’t asynchronous. But most of it was pretty great, and it was usually called “AJAX” wether it really was or not.

There is much to be said for Jeff’s point of view, although such fuzziness is a slippery slope. In the upcoming issue of .net magazine which I guest-edited, I refer to the current set of opportunities half-jocularly as “Web 2.1,” and while the title is a goof, it is also an attempt to encapsulate an exciting new phase of web design and experience. Instead of forging such constructions, perhaps it is best to go with what the market has seized upon—and “HTML5″ is certainly that.

To encourage what should be encouraged, yet not add confusion to an already over-vague understanding, folks like us might want to say, “HTML5 and related technologies,” or “HTML5 and other new technologies,” or something along those lines.

Sure, it’s a bit stiff. But such a construction allows us to participate in the current frenzy and be understood by non-technical people while not fostering further misunderstandings—particularly as we also need to concern ourselves with web colleagues’ and students’ knowledge of what HTML5 is and is not.

via On the term “HTML5”.