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The first major update to HTML in 10 years - factoring in changing tastes around rich-media applications and online collaboration - has been unveiled by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

The group has published the first public working draft for what it termed a "major revision" to the mark-up language.

Much has changed since the early dot-com days of December 1997 when HTML 4 was published, as developers, designers and users have unlocked the web's potential. Web sites have moved from being a collection of static pages to media-rich communities leveraging participation.[Fire up the hookah, boys - Ed]

HTML 5 is designed to reflect this, with APIs for drawing two-dimensional graphics, embedding and controlling multimedia, managing client-side data storage and editing parts of documents. Turning to more bread-and-butter stuff, HTML 5 will also make it easier to represent familiar page elements. A full list of changes can be found here.

"Ajax and related innovations have propelled demands for a new standard that allows people to create web applications that interoperate across desktop and mobile," the group said.

HTML 5 is designed to inject more consistency into the ways vendors and end users have gone about building today's generation of sites. According to the W3C, HTML 5 will: "Improve interoperability and reduce software costs by giving precise rules not only about how to handle all correct HTML documents but also how to recover errors."

The work is being stewarded by the W3C's HTML Working Group, founded in March 2007. Members include Google, IBM, Microsoft, Mozilla and Nokia.®

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