24 Jul 2012 12 pm eastern

HTML Marches On

IN A LETTER dated July 19, 2012, WHATWG leader and HTML living standard editor (formerly HTML5 editor) Ian Hickson clarifies the relationship between activity on the WHATWG HTML living standard and activity on the W3C HTML5 specification. As my dear Aunt Gladys used to say, you can’t ride two horses with one behind.


Filed under: HTML, HTML5, Standards, State of the Web, W3C, Web Design History, Web Standards

11 Responses to “HTML Marches On”

  1. Dale Cruse said on

    I haven’t decided yet if this news is monumental or just documenting business as usual in the HTML5 space.

    But what I do know is that lots of journalists get the HTML5 story wrong, not knowing what the technology really is, much less what it’s for. And this news is just another opportunity for a horde of online journalists to get the HTML5 story wrong – again.

  2. Tim McElwee said on

    I think your Aunt Gladys was a smart lady.

  3. ben said on

    I take this to mean that the WHATWG is taking their ball and going home (i.e. to their own closed and open loops).

    Given the known (and significant!) dysfunctions of each org’s process, I don’t see things ending well for line devs like myself and most of the others reading this.

    …Then again, I never did.

  4. Robert Brodrecht said on

    This is probably the best thing that could have happened other than the W3C continuing to fade into irrelevancy while working on XHTML 2 without attempting to merge specs with WHATWG. I loved seeing browsers leap forward after WHATWG was formed. When you have browser vendors working together with developers and other specialists that love the web, wonderful things start to happen. At first, having only lived in a world where the W3C made HTML standards, I was skeptical about the WHATWG, but they have proven that their method, even if it has warts, is better than the W3C’s decaying mess of backward practices and bureaucracy. More power to the WHATWG, as I’m sure they will get more done focusing on moving HTML forward than trying to deal with the W3C. I look forward to the continued growth of the web as a platform.

  5. steve faulkner said on

    There are 2 posts on this subject which may be of interest:
    the first is by Mike [tm] Smith W3C HTML WG team contact
    personal comments on the latest WHATWG vs W3C non-news
    The other by me on (surprisingly) the
    HTML ‘split’ effect on HTML Accessibility?

  6. steve faulkner said on

    @Robert,
    Your statements about the W3C only show your ignorance of how and where the web platform standards are developed, I suggest checking the URLs on that page, while the W3C is not the only only locus of standards development it is still the major venue for the development of web standards and it still plays an important role in the standardization of HTML in particular.

  7. steve faulkner said on
  8. Jeff Johnson said on

    This matters (and i agree w/ Dale ) when it comes to WHATWG ( what we get ) and reality in CSS3 hooks to javascripts that are required for the recognized high value “HTML5″ to actually work. IMHO some of the current “helper” libs ( more than just jquery ) should be baked into the spec and useful as tags and calls inherent to all platforms equally through html5. We have had these issues for years now and the troubles and solutions are matured and ripe.
    If this vendor specific CSS3 and such persists with multiple “standards” for video and audio, we will only have ourselves to blame. For mobile, html5 has to stop being a trainwreck of variants.. Content Editable should work… video should be std.

  9. Robert Brodrecht said on

    @steve faulkner I think the phrasing of my comment may have come across as too broad. I was speaking specifically of the HTML working group (and potentially a few related groups).

    I’m aware of how it all works (and even tried to participate in the WHATWG mailing list and early W3C HTML5 efforts as an invited expert before realizing the time commitment to be of any use to the teams was more than I could provide), and I definitely know the contribution of the W3C to standards outside of HTML5. Ultimately, over the years, I’ve only heard of frustration coming out of participants in the various W3C working groups that I respect (not just HTML, but CSS and maybe even XHTML if what I read wasn’t hearsay), and that has colored my view of the W3C’s process. If anything, my comments should show my rabid fanboyism for WHATWG.

    I know there are a lot of other standards that are being worked on at the W3C that are going swimmingly, so I don’t mean to be harsh on the W3C as a whole. And maybe things aren’t as bleak as they seem from the outside. The detractors tend to be the more vocal. That said, WHATWG was created for a reason and it has industry support for a reason.

  10. steve faulkner said on

    @robert,
    the HTML WG has been a pain a lot of the time, I have been actively participating in it since 2007. I continue to participate as I think it’s the best place to get HTML accessibility standardization work done. I believe there is room for both the HTML and WHATWG working groups. The HTML WG also has industry support (the same companies behind the WHATWG + many more are W3C members and participate in the HTML WG) as well as support from a diversity of other stakeholders. The mixing of the 2 cultures (I think) has had a positive effect upon the HTML WG and W3C, it has opened the W3C up.
    HTML is the language of the web its importance demands a diversity of thought and input in its development. Its development by a monoculture of whatever persuasion sells us and the web short.

  11. steve faulkner said on

    HTML 5 Marches On – new editorial team announced.

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