Friday, May 31, 2019

Browser Vendors Win War With W3C


Today W3C and the WHATWG signed an agreement to collaborate on the development of a single version of the HTML and DOM specifications. The Memorandum of Understanding jointly published as the WHATWG/W3C Joint Working Mode gives the specifics of this collaboration. This is the culmination of a careful exploration of effective partnership mechanisms since December 2017 after the WHATWG adopted many shared features as their work-mode and an IPR policy.

Catalin Cimpanu:

Known as the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG), this group was formed in 2004 as a response to the W3C’s slow pace of developing a more modern HTML standard, and the W3C’s plans to move HTML towards a variant known as XHTML, with an XML-like structure, which browser vendors at the time did not agree with.


In many cases, proposed standards would often ship in Chrome or Mozilla even before they were finalized and formally approved by the W3C, showing that most of the time, browser vendors considered getting W3C approval as only a formality, which had little impact on the standards they decided among themselves at the WHATWG.

The two organizations had an official fallout in April 2018, when all WHATWG members -- Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla -- vehemently and unequivocally opposed the W3C’s plans for approving version 4.1 of the DOM standard.

Laurie Voss:

The W3C has officially acknowledged that it lost control of HTML standards to the WHATWG many years ago.


[It] essentially just admits what happened already, which is that the major browser makers decide what the web can do. As long as all four are roughly equally powerful I don’t see it being that big an issue.

Update (2019-06-14): Jen Simmons:

Think of all the many HTML elements that were considered and rejected over the years — and we are supposed to be on-board with TOAST? Because a couple guys at Google decided they want it. And they can.

So no to


But yes to



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*Four* is an interesting number. While I still think Microsoft intends to be a player, it remains to be seen how their influence will matter if they ever disagree with Google/Chrome. If Microsoft just becomes the 'yes-man' to Google and it's seen as 2-on-2 debate, that might not turn out so well.

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