What, WG? wth? We all know what W3C is, the Wide Web Consortium (W3C) where we go to get our final specification on what HTML and CSS are.
What WHATWG really is, are the original designers of the HTML5 specification. Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG) is a community of individuals, working for all sorts of companies, by invite only, that work to define and build the specification that HTML should evolve into, specifically beginning with HTML5.
It was started by individuals from Apple, Mozilla, and Opera Software in 2004 and has board members who are now working at Google. The board members are all independent of the companies they work for, yet the companies they work for must also choose or allow their employees to take part. For example, an invitation to join the board to Chris Wilson of Microsoft, was denied. In-fact, it’s often that we see Microsoft denying these open source community based group invitations. The Khronos group, writing the WebGL (HTML5 OpenGL) specification has had the same denial letters.
With the adoption of HTML5 and the implementation into quickly developing browsers, WHATWG proposed to W3C that they adopt their working standard for HTML5 into their specification and in April of 2007 a new working group was formed between W3C and WHATWG. With the emergence of what is now most popular browser Google Chrome, with the struggling to keep market share Mozilla Firefox, and the “We are fine, we have our fanboys” Apple Safari, we have seen 65%+ of the browser market share adopt HTML5 technologies with what is now the 5th major rendition of HTML.
The WHATWG split from W3C in 2004 because the W3C’s processes were too slow and not keeping pace with today’s changing world. After they merged in 2007, things were fine, but again now in 2012, they have split off again. This means that we will now have two working specifications of HTML5, a “working standard” and a “specification” that us as web developers will have to always keep in constant check.
This is huge news in the web application world. Before we even see full implementation of HTML5, we find ourselves already splitting the specification. But remember that there aren’t just two camps out there. We also have our giant, Microsoft sitting quietly in the corner, where we know we could quickly frame our 3-way race into providing new technologies to your home and business. Time will tell and like always, we as developers just have to (as always) be flexible with the times and do our best to stay on top!