The Open Web Platform is what we want – HTML5 becomes HTML

Last night there was an interesting announcement from the WHATWG group, who effectively develops various HTML5 and related specifications. That is, HTML5 is no more.

Their statement is entitled HTML is the new HTML5, and what do they mean with that? The gist of it is that there are so many things happening both in terms of actual HTML and JavaScript APIs that there’s no good point in time when “everything will be done”.

The development is now meant to be version-less and instead the results will be a living document that will adjust itself over time according to new evolving technology.
HTML5 is now indeed HTML. I understand their reasoning, but it is also facing a number of problems we need to deal with, mentioned in the comments to that post.

In the end, though, I think this has good potential to end well.

Does that mean HTML5, as we know it, doesn’t exist?

Not really. The idea is that WHATWG and W3C are working together on creating a snapshot that can be labelled as HTML5. I think, for quite some time, the HTML5 term is going to be around – not so much for referring to the above-mentioned snapshot, but because the term has gained traction in both media, marketing and in the heads of managers and decision-makers.

We can’t call it HTML, right?

HTML5 became the term successor to AJAX, encompassing all new technologies on the web, no matter if they were in the specification or not. With this just named HTML, it’s not really something that by its name sends the connection to that, and it’s certainly not something people can search Google for and get good results.

So let’s look not necessarily to what specification something is in, but rather what people mean, and want to address, when they have used the term HTML5.

The Open Web Platform

The way I see it, when people from all kinds of fields; web developers, management, media; have spoken about HTML5, what they are actually referring to is various open technologies that aren’t owned by any company, but instead are open specifications. They mean all that HTML, CSS, JavaScript, SVG and more can offer directly in a web browser, without any plug-in.

So we should start calling it what it really is: The Open Web Platform.

I have taken this term from Philippe Le Hégaret and I think it perfectly depicts what we really want to say. And not only does it just refer to video elements, online games with canvas, SVG magic or any other new technology what offers a richer web experience, it also brings up, and even contains in its name, the vital fact that the web has to be based on open technologies.

Internet is not there only for the West, it’s the most democratic medium we have, bringing people together, rich or poor, disabilities, differing opinions – whatever you can think of. It has become such an important piece for mankind and how we communicate with each other, and we have to defend this delicate thing as much as we possibly can.

And the way we do that is building on and developing the Open Web Platform.


  • Anne says:

    Various people have been calling it simply Web Platform for quite a long time now. And defined it as open, etc.

  • Robert Nyman says:


    Definitely, but at least in my experience, when it comes to media, management, customers etc, HTML5 has become the term to rule them all.

    I’d rather see us as developers, speakers etc refer to it as the Web Platform, open if we want to, instead when we talk with other people.

  • Tim says:

    I couldn’t agree more. Using the phrase the “Open Web Platform” or something similar is the only way to fix this mess while there is still time. I’ll be adopting it for now on.

  • Robert Nyman says:


    Thanks, I’m glad that you agree!

  • Paul Irish says:

    It’s really been tried. It failed already. 🙁

    Brad Neuberg covered this ground well in his post Why I’m Going to Keep Calling it HTML5:

    I originally thought the term Open Web would become how people referred to these things. “Oh, CSS3, Geolocation, etc.? Those are Open Web technologies!” I was even part of a group here at Google called the Open Web Advocacy team that was all about pushing things like HTML5, CSS3, SVG, and more forward. You know what? The term Open Web never really took off; I would say the term “Open Web” and people would give me a quizzical look. I even tried boiling it down to a succinct set of bullet points about what makes something an “Open Web Technology,” but no dice.

    Sure it’d be nicer if OWP would be successful in a branding effort. It’d feel more accurate. (Actually, Google uses it a bunch internally) But I dont think we’ll see it in headlines being pitted against Native or Flash anytime soon.

    Does Open Web Platform Developer really have a ring to it? :/

  • Nah, let’s just call it DHTML. 😛

    I agree with your point that buzzwords have their place. Or am I putting words in your mouth?

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Christian Heilmann, stevefaulkner, Fredrik Broman, Robert Nyman, Bryan Rieger and others. Bryan Rieger said: The Open Web Platform is what we want – from @robertnyman /cc @stephanierieger …especially the last paragraph. […]

  • Valid suggestion. But unfortunately – I think “the Open Web Platform” is too “clumsy” to pronounce and use, and came way to late to the game. It may work as a formal definition, but it’s unlikely to be widely adopted. We need something with a little more snap to it. Even HTML is too heavy.

  • Robert Nyman says:


    Maybe it did, but at least I get the feeling that some more people are using it over time. However, I agree that it probably doesn’t have that ring to it with media, but I guess/hope we can emphasize it and the importance when we speak to clients, managers and other web developers.


    Just good that you agree. 🙂


    From a branding point, I hear what you’re saying. But from a content’s view, I think that’s at least the message we need to sell.

  • Anne says:

    I just mean to say that we should drop “Open” 🙂

  • Robert Nyman says:


    Well, I disagree with that. Having worked as a consultant, meeting numerous clients, journalists etc, if I’d say Web Platform only, Flash and other things would definitely be in there for them too.

    Hence using open. 🙂

  • shepazu says:

    Inside the W3C team, we use the term “Open Web Platform” or “Web Platform” almost exclusively. When we say “HTML5”, we mean the specification. But we recognize that for many people, the distinction is more blurry, and so to encourage people to adopt the OWP, we decided that taking advantage of the buzz around HTML5 is an appropriate means to an end. Web professionals need to be precise, but the average person doesn’t.

    Too bad it’s not “Platform of the Open Web”… “POW” is much more fun abbreviation.

  • Robert Nyman says:


    I understand you, and I think that’s ok. However, maybe the two don’t have to be exclusive. I think it’s important to, publicly as well, talk more about the Open Web Platform, and that could be in conjunction with HTML5, CSS3 or similar.

    Basically, I think it’s good to use the term Open more to stress the importance of that.

    And POW indeed. 🙂

  • Amen to that! I find HTML5 and the explanations given for the new logo way too technical and would rather brand webapps, but “Open Web Platform” is just as good a name.

  • Robert Nyman says:


    Glad you like the idea!
    Thanks for the link, it was a good read. And I agree with you, it’s good to have something that doesn’t necessarily list technologies, but rather purpose and such.

  • Gaurav M says:

    When I first heard of HTML5, 2 years back. I did not realized it will be implemented in technology by the major web browser player ‘FAST’.
    I thought may be after 5-6 years HTML5 will be adopted fully, that were we my initial reaction.
    But surprisingly it is already getting into Brains tremendously fast!

    Yay! and Big cheers for the Open WEB Platform’s Believer.

  • Robert Nyman says:


    Yes, it is indeed going very fast.!

  • […] the term ‘Open Web Platform’ rather than HTML5. One supporter of this terminilogy is Robert Nyman: The way I see it, when people from all kinds of fields; web developers, management, media; have […]

  • […] them under the term ‘Open Web Platform’ rather than HTML5. One supporter of this terminilogy is Robert Nyman: The way I see it, when people from all kinds of fields; web developers, management, media; have […]

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