The W3C just announced updates leading to an HTML5.1 spec with a provisional public release in the next 6 months.
Current developers sit on the Web Platform Working Group and have been hard at work on the next update to HTML5, initially released back in 2014 by the HTML Working Group.
There isn’t a set date, but the timeline aims to ship an HTML5.1 Recommendation by the end of September 2016. A Candidate Recommendation should be out by June 2016, followed by a W3C Consensus. From that point working drafts of HTML5.1 will be updated once per month to make it easier for others to review changes and offer new ideas.
All changes to the current spec are hosted directly on HTML5’s GitHub, accessible to anyone with Internet access. W3C has maintained all changes right on GitHub as a way to connect more directly with the dev community.
The W3C makes their goals pretty clear in their HTML5.1 post:
The goal isn’t perfection… but rather to make HTML 5.1 better than HTML 5.0
Tangibly this means updates that reflect the reality of HTML5. It should be a spec that’s easy to pickup and understand right from the start. This extrapolates to browser engines and web development.
All significant new features will be held as separate modules and tested before being merged into the HTML5.1 spec. This gives browser developers and authoring tools plenty of time to adjust and provide support for new tags, attributes, or rendering styles. The WICG was setup for the sole purpose of standardization and will help with every step of the new HTML5.1 specification.
This new workflow may allow for a W3C recommended stable release of HTML5.x published once per year. It’s difficult to say which exact features we can expect, but it’s good to know the W3C is working hard to get something into the public’s hands.