When Revolution meets Design by Committee: WHATWG proposes W3C to adopt HTML5

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As you know W3C woke up recently and restarted HTML activity. WHAT Working Group, who was working independently on HTML5 since 2004 now proposes W3C to adopt HTML5 as starting point and to put their Google guy to be in charge of new W3C HTML 5.

By the way, the need to annotate HTML 5 with "W3C" means there is already a potential confusion. In fact WHATWG is working two specifications: Web Applications 1.0 and Web Forms 2.0, but who knows why they call them both HTML5. Now they are proposing W3C to adopt Web Applications 1.0 and Web Forms 2.0 ("WHATWG HTML5") along with editor as starting point to W3C next HTML version ("W3C HTML").

Anyway, here is the proposition and discussion:

Dear HTML Working Group,

HTML5, comprising the Web Apps 1.0 and Web Forms 2.0 specifications,  
is the product of many years of collaborative effort. It specifies  
existing HTML4 markup and APIs with much clearer conformance criteria  
for both implementations and documents. It specifies many useful  
additions, in many cases drawing on features that have existed in  
browser-based implementations for a long time. And it actively draws  
on feedback from implementors and content authors. Therefore, we the  
undersigned propose the following:

- that the W3C HTML Working Group adops the WHAT Working Group's  
HTML5 as the starting point for further HTML development
- that the W3C's next-generation HTML specification is officially  
named "HTML 5"
- that Ian Hickson is named as editor for the W3C's HTML 5  
specification, to preserve continuity with the existing WHATWG effort

If HTML5 is adopted as a starting point, the contents of the document  
would still be up for review and revision, but we would start with  
the existing text. A suitable next step might be a high-level review  
of functionality added and removed relative to HTML4.01, followed by  
focused discussion and review of individual topic areas, including  
both content already in the spec and proposed new features.  
Discussions should be guided by common principles along the lines of  

If the group is agreeable to these proposals, Apple, Mozilla and  
Opera will agree to arrange a non-exclusive copyright assignment to  
the W3 Consortium for HTML5 specifications.

L. David Baron, Mozilla Foundation
Lars Erik Bolstad, Opera Software ASA
Brendan Eich, Mozilla Foundation
Dave Hyatt, Apple Inc.
HÃ¥kon Wium Lie, Opera Software ASA
Maciej Stachowiak, Apple Inc.

 As you can see Mozilla, Opera, Apple and Google (Ian Hickson) are all here. Now W3C HTML WG chairs Chris Wilson (Microsoft) and Dan Connolly (W3C/MIT) have to decide. Interesting. So far seems like people on the public-html mail list like the idea, but personally I don't believe it's gonna happen. I'd like to be wrong though.

And here is another interesting tidbit:

If the HTMLWG adopts the WHATWG spec as a starting point, and asks me to edit the HTML spec, then there will only be one spec. The WHATWG spec and the HTML WG spec would be one and the same. 

Ian Hickson

And if not then what? Two different HTML 5 specifications? OMG. Interesting times ahead.

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If not, then I'll make sure the two specs stay compatible (by keeping the WHATWG spec a superset of the W3C one). See this post for details:


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