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Re: Differences between the W3C and WHATWG specifications

From: Doug Schepers <schepers@w3.org>
Date: Sun, 20 Jun 2010 01:11:38 +0100
Message-ID: <4C1D5CBA.7010305@w3.org>
To: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
CC: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>, Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net>, Paul Cotton <Paul.Cotton@microsoft.com>, HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>
Hi, Ian-

Ian Hickson wrote (on 6/18/10 1:13 PM):
> I would also like to suggest that we should be more frank with the readers
> of the specification about the differences between the HTML WG HTML5
> specification and the WHATWG HTML specification, since we are chartered to
> persue convergence with that group.

While we're being frank, we should reiterate the context in which the 
HTML WG charter was written [1].  At that time, it was not a foregone 
conclusion that the WHATWG spec would serve as the basis for the W3C 
HTML5 spec, nor that the W3C HTML5 would have the same editor as the 
WHATWG spec, nor that they would address the same set of design 
constraints, nor even that it would be called HTML5.

When the HTML WG had just started work, you asked to be named as editor 
of both the WHATWG and W3C specs, with the proviso that you had total 
change control over both specs [2]; this was agreed to by the W3C HTML 
WG.  Maciej, on behalf of folks within Apple, Opera, and Mozilla, 
proposed that the W3C spec be based on the WHATWG spec [3]; this was 
agreed to [4], and the WHATWG spec was adopted wholecloth.  Over the 
course of many discussions, it was agreed that the design principles, 
use cases and requirements, methodology, forms strategy, and name of the 
HTML5 spec, among numerous other small and large decisions, converged to 
those of the WHATWG.  The W3C HTML WG itself has always been completely 
open to the WHATWG participants as Invited Experts, and eventually, 
Maciej, one of the chief players in the WHATWG, was made co-chair of the 

So, the aim of the charter to "actively pursue convergence with WHATWG, 
encouraging open participation" has clearly been met from the W3C HTML 
WG side.  Speaking for myself (not my employer), I would like to see a 
clear message from WHATWG that it intends to act with similar good faith 
to present a straightforward collaboration with W3C so that the users, 
content authors, implementors, and specifiers know what constitutes the 
HTML5 spec.

If there are differences between the W3C HTML5 spec and the WHATWG 
version, wouldn't it be clearer, and just as easy for you as editor of 
both, to maintain identical technical documents for the HTML5 spec 
itself, and to differentiate between the HTML5 spec and more speculative 
ongoing WHATWG work?  The theoretical purity of a single single WHATWG 
spec has its appeal, I'm sure, but it seems to be conflicting with the 
needs of those more important in the priority of constituencies.

While I've been a casual participant in the WHATWG for several years, 
I'm afraid I don't know its process well enough to propose this change 
in the WHATWG document policy.  Could you please advise me on what steps 
I would need to take to put this to the larger WHATWG community, or 
point me to the decision by the WHATWG community where the decision to 
diverge was made?

[1] http://www.w3.org/2007/03/HTML-WG-charter
[2] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2007Apr/0025.html
[3] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2007Apr/0429.html
[4] http://www.w3.org/2002/09/wbs/40318/htmlbg/results

Received on Sunday, 20 June 2010 00:11:45 UTC

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