HTML versioning eliminated

HTML5 will be the last numbered version of the standard, a W3C working group member decrees

The new HTML5 logo

The new HTML5 logo

The working group for HTML has done away with version numbers for the Web page rendering standard.

The decision comes just after the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) introduced a new logo for the newest version of the standard now being worked on, HTML5.

There will be no HTML version 6 or version 6.2.3, or any other numbered version. Instead, HTML will just be considered a "living document," one that will be updated on an ongoing basis, said Ian Hickson, a member of the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG), in a blog post Wednesday.

Instead of version numbers for the standard as a whole, changes in the standard will instead be annotated on a section-by-section basis.

The change in numbering was necessary to reflect the more dynamic process of developing the standard, Hickson wrote. The group has been laboring to finish HTML5 by 2012, even as requests for more capabilities are coming in.

The change "doesn't really mean much from the point of view of how the WHATWG operates, since we've never really paid much attention to version numbers," Hickson wrote in an earlier e-mail to the group.

The WHATWG is not alone in its dissatisfaction with version numbering. For the past several years, the maintainers of the Linux kernel have been debating a switch from their approach of numbering as well. The current version of the Linux kernel, which tends to be updated every three months or so, is the unwieldy 2.6.37. Linux developers have not reached consensus yet about what would constitute superior version numbering, though.

For the W3C, the group plans to produce an HTML5 snapshot in 2012 in order to say that HTML5 has been completed.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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