We Doctors like the proposed HTML5 logo from the W3C; it’s down there, glistening in our footer. But we think that the definition of HTML5 that the W3C offers is too broad to be useful:

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

W3C HTML5 LogoWe’re pretty much at ease with lumping specs that aren’t strictly HTML5 in to the buzzword. For example, Web Workers or Web Sockets were developed by the same people that specced HTML5 and, like many aspects of HTML5, are simple APIs that developers are adopting to facilitate development of Web Applications using Open Web technologies. Geolocation was nothing to do with the WHATWG but, because it’s a modern, simple, useful API, it’s philosophically satisfying to call it “HTML5”, although inaccurate.

But lumping technologies like CSS 3, WOFF (simply a font format) or SVG is too much jargon-creep. HTML is about semantics and structuring data, not about styling, fonts or graphics. It’s not just about purity of jargon—this stuff matters. The 2001-era memo about separation of content, style and behaviour is even more important now that “HTML5″/ real-HTML5 / HTML gives us so much more power. While we understand that clients and technical journalists will use “HTML5” as a buzzword, the W3C as the official standards body should be promoting clarity, not blurring the distinctions.

There is also the danger that other Open Standards might suffer from being excluded from the “HTML5” buzzword—for example, W3C Widgets, which PPK has already suggested we refer to as “HTML5 apps” because of this not-“HTML5” exclusion principle.

What can be done?

It’s not done until it’s done; the W3C says

W3C introduced this logo in January 2011 with the goal of building community support. W3C has not yet taken it up in any official capacity.

Quite rightly, the W3C has opened it up for debate. We suggest that the W3C rethink slightly, and have separate-but-related logos. For example, the current logo can represent markup and APIs that we accept may be legitimately referred to as “HTML5”, another logo for graphics – for example, SVG, and a third logo for styling that brings together CSS, WOFF and the like. (We note in passing that using a “3” to represent CSS will quickly date when work on CSS 4 begins.)

They should be collectively referred to by some name like the “Open Web”, which should be the umbrella brand, because it remains as important as ever to set Open technologies apart from proprietary tech. We applaud the W3C’s move to brand Open tech and raise awareness of it amongst developers and the wider tech world.

This is just a strawman taxonomy to get people thinking. Have you got any better ideas?

Note, we haven’t addressed WHATWG’s recent change to using the name “HTML”. This is something that has been in the works for a long time, and better represents WHATWG’s actual process (and the process of implementers). We’ll cover this in a future post…


Added just a few hours later:

The W3C have half-done the right thing by adding this clarification:

Is W3C saying that CSS3 is part of the HTML5 specification?
No. However, many HTML5 Web sites and applications do take advantage of CSS3 for styling and presentation.

But the CSS “styling” logo is still in the badge builder and the icon sets. It should be removed.

So two cheers for the clarification. Let’s see some commitment to complete clarity.

11 Responses on the article “Two cheers for the W3C’s HTML5 logo”

  • Alohci says:

    I have nothing to say except express complete agreement. “HTML5” should not be used as a catch-all term. Nice article, Bruce.

  • Mark says:

    Looks like they’ve clarified their position on this:


  • Steven Davis says:

    HTML5 does not NEED a logo. It’s silly to me.

  • Mark Wassmer says:

    Completely agree with Bruce. What the community needs at this time is clarification. If there is to be branding, the inclusion of an umbrella “brand” makes far more sense.

    At this time the majority of people following or using HTML5 will have a finer level of understand with regards to the relationships of technologies like CCS3 & WOFF to HTML(5). However, in the longer term, when the spec is adopted en masse this will not be the case and as such will need strong clarification.

  • Lurker says:

    A logo like this – as large as it is on your site – interferes with the visual identity of the website embedding it. Hence it won’t be used by many hence it is useless by design.

    To me it does not have a purpose other than standing against TOOLS having a visual identity, a logo, because they need one because they are applications.

    Flash as a technology does not have a logo. But flash as an application does. I understand the dilema but HTML 5 does not need to have a stance against Flash. In a venn diagram they have only a small part in common and as a devloper I don’t understand what’s going on with this HTML 5 vs Flash … this is bullshit …

  • Cogito says:

    I think it would be more helpful if we used just those other logos (all apart from the orange shield), as though they were – literally – badges of skill. That way all of them, including CSS3, WOFF, SVG, etc, could be of the same design (aesthetically speaking), but ascribed to different sub technologies of the emerging Open Web.

    As you said, they could come under the umbrella term “Open Web”, but they could still hold their own meaning when used individually. Prospective clients could look at those as badges of ability (admittedly easy to fake, but not so easy to prove). Having them like that would help the standards philosophers sleep better at night, while those eager to display their skill set through an easily visual medium would have just a way to do that.

    But, at the end of the day, I’ll be wearing my badges. ;)

  • Chris says:

    Definitely agree, and glad about the clarification. Open Web, more specifically, Open Web Platform (OWP as an abbreviation) sounds better. I say OWP because Open Web by itself is pretty broad and elusive- an extra noun on the end, such as Platform, Stack, or even Network- gives it substance and makes it easier to visualize.

  • przemek says:

    I don’t think there’s need for logo, and even so, the the presented one is awful.

  • Richard says:

    I think it’s actually very useful to have a logo as it helps promote HTML5 technology to others on the web. Oh and I just read that the logo is now official according to the W3C as of April 2011.

  • Grin says:

    Nice logo. I Love It!

  • Join the discussion.

    Some HTML is ok

    You can use these tags:
    <a href="" title="">
    <abbr title="">
    <blockquote cite="">
    <del datetime="">
    <q cite="">

    You can also use <code>, and remember to use &lt; and &gt; for brackets.