W3C relinquishes control of HTML standards to WHATWG

After W3C and WHATWG parted ways in 2018, they've now agreed to a single HTML and DOM standard that will be managed by Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Mozilla.

W3C and WHATWG
W3C and WHATWG agree to single standard

Most internet users didn’t know this, but there’s been an ongoing battle for the control of HTML standards. It’s resulted in two different HTML standards existing in parallel between W3C and WHATWG. However, as of today, that split has come to an end.

On Tuesday, May 28, 2019, the two groups released a Memorandum of Understanding Between W3C and WHATWG that gives up control of HTML and DOM standards to WHATWG. Catalin Cimpanu reported in ZDNet that 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.

With this agreement, W3C officially relinquishes its control to what is essentially all of the major browser vendors.

Even though WHATWG will control the HTML and DOM standards, W3C will still have an influence on its direction. The memorandum includes a section entitled Cooperation Process that outlines W3C‘s continued influence on the standards.

It should benefit everyone to have a single organization making final decisions on HTML and DOM standards. However, some technology advisors are voicing their concerns. Terence Eden, a former W3C AC representative, wrote about his concerns on Twitter.

I’ve mixed feelings about this. It’s a good compromise & sensible for both parties to work together. But it feels like web standards are being developed for browser vendors’ needs. And with Edge going to Chrome – that increasingly means Google’s needs

Eden’s concern about Google having too much control is shared by many people in the digital marketing community. That concern is due in part by Google’s continued push for webmasters to adopt the AMP framework.

Jon is the founder and Managing Editor of Coywolf. He is a serial entrepreneur with over 25 years of experience in web development, SaaS, internet strategy, and digital marketing. Follow @henshaw

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