New W3C HTML5 Logo: Looks Ok But Inconsistent, Fire W3C Communications Person Who Led Messaging

on (ttk.me b/49u1) using BBEdit

I've given it a few days, figuring the disappointment would fade. It hasn't, it's only gotten worse.

Update : W3C has fixed the FAQ. More to come.

Looks Ok But Inconsistent

The W3C's New HTML5 logo looks fine by itself: New HTML5 logo

However it is visually inconsistent with all previous W3C HTML logos or badges:

W3C HTML icon W3C HTML 2.0 valid badge W3C HTML 3.2 valid badge W3C HTML 4.01 valid badge New HTML5 logo

This is perhaps par for the course, as W3C has not been particularly good at any kind of historical brand consistency, with a couple of exceptions: the W3C mark itself, and the validation badges. So at least that's something, except the new HTML5 logo doesn't really fit with either.

I will end this section on a positive note however, and that is that if W3C were looking to deliberately break from previous branding with a new look, this isn't a bad one, and I expect the "look" will grow on people (myself included) over time and that we'll all come to accept it and use it. That's the good news. The looks aren't really that much of a problem (if at all). Now for the bad news.

W3C Abdicates To Sloppy Corporate Marketing

As the title says, fire the W3C Communications person that led this new messaging around HTML5 because it is one of the worst messages (if not the worst) about a technology to ever come out of W3C.

A few months ago I thought I'd heard the worst, with a member of W3C's own staff fudding HTML5:

"... it's a little too early to deploy it [HTML5] because we're running into interoperability issues ..."
"I don't think it's ready for production yet,"
"The real problem is can we make [HTML5] work across browsers and at the moment, that is not the case."

All from the InfoWorld interview: W3C: Hold off on deploying HTML5 in websites. To be fair HTML5 isn't finished by any stretch, it's still a working draft (not even in last call), which means plenty can and will change.

However, there's plenty of HTML5 that is interoperable, that is ready for production, and that does work consistently across browsers. In fact so much so I was inspired to write my first book/video about it: HTML5 Now.

Update : W3C has fixed the FAQ including asking/answering: Are HTML5 technologies ready to use? Yes.

There's plenty of "good parts" of HTML5 that you can go forth and use, and that was last year. With official IE9 and Firefox 4 releases just around the corner, you'll be able to depend on even more. (Disclosure, I freelance for Mozilla, but of course these opinions are my own).

That was last October. Now, as succinctly quoted by Jeremy Keith in his blog post Badge of Shame, W3C tells us that:

What does this logo mean?

The [HTML5] logo is a general-purpose visual identity for a broad set of open web technologies, including HTML5, CSS, SVG, WOFF, and others.

Update : W3C has fixed the FAQ replacing that FAQ with:

What does the logo represent?

This logo represents HTML5, the cornerstone for modern Web applications.

This is nothing short of horribly embarrassing to see from W3C, especially in such an official manner. At least the previous flub was one W3C staff person, in an interview published elsewhere.

Why? In short: in an apparent lack of self-confidence, W3C has caved to the past two years of mutually inconsistent/ambiguous/confusing "HTML5" marketing from Google (HTML5 is whatever we say it is this year at Google I/O), Apple (apple.com/html5 is User-Agent sniffed Webkit only including proprietary Webkit CSS extensions), and Microsoft (The "HTML5 Demos" at ie.microsoft.com/testdrive include things like border-radius which is CSS3, not HTML5).

This was the perfect opportunity for W3C to stand up, show adherence to principles of precision, clarity, and provide leadership as their mission statement claims they (want to) do. All the things you would expect from a world-class standards organization.

They've done the opposite on all counts. Instead of providing precision and clarity, they've muddied the definition of HTML5 further with yet another "here's our bucket of things we like which we're going to call 'HTML5'" message. Instead of leading they've followed the marketing messages from large corporations.

W3C's Communications Team has failed us horribly and have only added to market confusion as to what "HTML5" is.

Jeremy Keith has published a round-up of articles and posts with additional in depth critiques which I strongly encourage you to read: "Marklar Malkovich Smurf".

Hold Yourself To A Higher Standard

However, just because W3C has sacrificed principles and succumbed to corporate peer pressure in an attempt to seem "cool" like the marketing arms of a few big companies (since when have "big companies" or their "marketing" been measures of cool?) doesn't mean we have to.

In my opinion the end result of this confusion is obvious. Over time as people get more confused and frustrated by all the ever-changing and inconsistent "HTML5 is all this stuff" variant buckets, those promoting such loose, contradictory, and changing definitions of HTML5 will be inevitably judged as untrustworthy and unreliable.

If you're a developer, designer, author or someone else who writes, discusses, promotes HTML5, your only hope for not getting lumped in with the rest of the marketing morass is to stick with a consistent precise definition.

Use "HTML" to mean any/all/current versions of Hypertext Markup Language, the evolving lingua franca of the Web. And use "HTML5" to mean the HTML5 specification at http://www.w3.org/TR/html5/, and all that is described within, nothing more, nothing less.

Update : W3C has fixed the FAQ which now mentions the HTML5 specification several times but stops just short of declaring "HTML5" to mean precisely the "HTML5 specification". So close.