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HTML 5 Progresses Despite Challenges

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Development of HTML5 is progressing, but the highly anticipated upgrade to the Web language still faces some major hurdles, particularly its lack of a standard video codec, says the World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C's) Philippe Le Hegaret. HTML5 features new video capabilities, support for offline applications, and the Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) specification. It is scheduled to move to a candidate recommendation phase by the end of 2010, which would last two years before final adoption could occur, according to Le Hegaret. "The underlying issue is finding a video format that is royalty-free," he says. "So far, we haven't been able to provide one video format that can satisfy everyone."

Fallback scenarios could involve having a developer define a page to work in the Safari and Firefox browsers, and then provide two video formats. Le Hegaret says HTML5's multimedia capabilities could give developers less reason to use proprietary technologies such as Microsoft's Silverlight or Adobe Flash, except that those technologies would still be more advanced than HTML5.

Although he praised SVG, which provides a language for describing two-dimensional graphics and graphical applications in XML, Le Hegaret said Microsoft's lack of support for SVG in Internet Explorer remains an "elephant in the room." However, he noted that Microsoft has not released plans for Internet Explorer 9, which could include SVG support.

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