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This Week in HTML 5 – Episode 1

by Mark Pilgrim, Google in Processing Model, Weekly Review, WHATWG

Welcome to a new semi-regular column, "This Week in HTML 5," where I'll try to summarize the major activity in the ongoing standards process in the WHATWG and W3C HTML Working Group.

The biggest news is the birth of the Web Workers draft specification. Quoting the spec, "This specification defines an API that allows Web application authors to spawn background workers running scripts in parallel to their main page. This allows for thread-like operation with message-passing as the coordination mechanism." This is the standardization of the API that Google Gears pioneered last year. See also: initial Workers thread, announcement of new spec, response to Workers feedback.

Also notable this week: even more additions to the Requirements for providing text to act as an alternative for images. 4 new cases were added:

  1. A link containing nothing but an image
  2. A group of images that form a single larger image
  3. An image not intended for the user (such as a "web bug" tracking image)
  4. Text that has been rendered to a graphic for typographical effect

Additionally, the spec now tries to define what authors should do if they know they have an image but don't know what it is. Quoting again from the spec:

If the src attribute is set and the alt attribute is set to a string whose first character is a U+007B LEFT CURLY BRACKET character ({) and whose last character is a U+007D RIGHT CURLY BRACKET character (}), the image is a key part of the content, and there is no textual equivalent of the image available. The string consisting of all the characters between the first and the last character of the value of the alt attribute gives the kind of image (e.g. photo, diagram, user-uploaded image). If that value is the empty string (i.e. the attribute is just "{}"), then even the kind of image being shown is not known.

  • If the image is available, the element represents the image specified by the src attribute.
  • If the image is not available or if the user agent is not configured to display the image, then the user agent should display some sort of indicator that the image is not being rendered, and, if possible, provide to the user the information regarding the kind of image that is (as derived from the alt attribute).

See also: revision 1972, revision 1976, revision 1978, revision 1979, Images and alternate text.

Other interesting changes this week:

Tune in next week for another exciting episode of "This Week in HTML 5."

21 Responses to “This Week in HTML 5 – Episode 1”

  1. Dan says:

    A nice summary for those of us who haven’t got enough time to keep up with the mailing lists. Thanks :-)

  2. Marcos says:

    Yeah, thanks Mark! this is great.

  3. Andy says:

    Thanks Mark :)

  4. [...] Open Web, writer extraordinaire, and creator of Google Doctype) has started the series This Week in HTML 5 which aims to keep us up to speed on the spec, and progress across the board (what are browsers [...]

  5. Peter says:

    Separate feed for this series please Mark?

  6. Lachlan Hunt says:

    Peter, it’s certainly possible to create a separate feed for this series. We could add a new category specifically for this series, in which case, you just subscribe to the feed /category/whatever/feed.

    Mark, you should be able to create a category for them called whatever you like if you want to do it that way. If not, I can set it up for you.

  7. Brad Fults says:

    This series is a great idea. Thanks for the first installment.

  8. Peter says:

    Lachlan, thanks very much. I’d like to follow what’s happening but don’t have the time to read all posts (so a weekly roundup will be great!)

  9. [...] im Blog der WHATWG (Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group) eine Serie angefangen: This Week in HTML 5. Jetzt ist auch mir klar, dass das noch ein ganzes Stück dauern wird. Veröffentlicht [...]

  10. bruce says:

    Seconding request for new category so I ca subscribe to the feed.

  11. Jason says:

    {} is for unknown stuff? very dogdy sounding. What if someone actually has an image of {} or {captcha} etc — yes, ideally text should not be in graphics, but what if this is needed where say someone is showing how this text looks in a new font they are designing or whatever?

    Surely an additional attribute to the image element is the best structural way to do this? Something like an attribute called purpose? or rel? Or is this another case of the xml haters trying to avoid more xml-based solutions to these problems!

  12. Kroc Camen says:

    Nice to find this, I’ve got an HTML5 website and need to keep up with the times.

  13. I also call for requesting new category so I can subscribe to the feed.

  14. [...] continuing saga of the alt attribute, the new syntax for alternate text of auto-generated images (which I covered in last week’s episode) has generated some followup discussion. Philip Taylor is concerned that it will increase [...]

  15. [...] continuing saga of the alt attribute, the new syntax for alternate text of auto-generated images (which I covered in last week’s episode) has generated some followup discussion. Philip Taylor is concerned that it will increase [...]

  16. dekorasyon says:

    Seconding request for new category so I ca subscribe to the feed.

  17. [...] continuing saga of the alt attribute, the new syntax for alternate text of auto-generated images (which I covered in last week’s episode) has generated some followup discussion. Philip Taylor is concerned that it will increase [...]

  18. [...] A: google Mark Pilgrim HTML 5 – blog.whatwg.org/this-week-in-html5-episode-1 [...]

  19. [...] episode. In this episode Mark Pilgrim notes: Since I started publishing these weekly summaries over a year ago, I’ve watched the HTML5 specification grow up…Slowly, steadily, and sometimes [...]

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