Since 1999, HTML has been frozen at the 4.01 standard. Web design technology has progressed despite that with XML, XHTML, and other advances, but the standard remained static.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the group responsible for maintaining such standards, has started to move on HTML 5, a generation that owes much to advances in CSS code.
IBM has an article that explains the development and features of HTML 5, and I’ll point you there rather than repeat it all here.
However, I do want to highlight some of these, including some new tags with interesting implications for screenwriters and others who want to post formatted pages with code (versus an image format).
The important innovations are the division of the basic Web page body into several areas. A page will have header (not the same as thein code) and footer areas to play with. No longer will Web designers have to hard-code such areas with tables or divs.
Text also receives renovation. It may be treated like a giant list, with subgroups called sections and articles joining the existing blockquote format.
Best of all is the new dialog tag, meant for the representation of conversation in text – i.e. a screenplay. Sure, screenwriters have accomplished the same thing with some hard work, but it’s not free of problems. Standards takes care of that. The tags will operate much like table tags do now, with one tag indicating the speaker’s name and another to indicate the spoken dialogue. The IBM article notes:
The exact syntax of this element is still being argued over. Some people want to embed additional nondialogue text (such as stage directions) inside the dialog element, and others aren’t happy with the overloading of dt and dd. However, most everyone agrees that some such semantic representation of dialogue is a good thing, even if they haven’t yet agreed on the exact syntax.
Speaking as an amateur Web designer, HTML 5 will make life so much simpler. I look forward to its acceptance as a standard even if that would force me to do more work to teach it.