Web Browser Makers Will Be Responsible For The Most Important Web Standards As W3C Backs Down?

Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla, the leading web browser makers appear to have collectively stood their ground and gained against World Wide Web Consortium. Together, the group designs, develops, and deploys the most popular web browsers which are used by millions of internet users. Safari, Chrome, Edge, and Firefox are the dominant web browsers today, and evidently, their makers will get to decide what to put in their programs.

The World Wide Web Consortium, commonly referred to as W3C, has effectively given the control of designing some of the most important Web Standards to the designers of web browsers. The standards body for the World Wide Web has officially given up publishing future HTML and DOM standards. The group chaired by the web browser makers will now get to make these decisions. The W3C and its members, will instead, draft “recommendations” for future web standards containing the features they need. Needless to mention, this clearly indicates the W3C appears to have accepted the decisive role of Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla.

The industry group that comprises of Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla is officially called the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group or WHATWG. The industry body of the web browsers was created way back in 2004. Apparently, the makers of Safari, Chrome, Internet Explorer, Edge, and Firefox web browsers felt the W3C wasn’t active in developing a more modern HTML standard. Moreover, the WHATWG appeared opposed to the W3C’s migration towards XHTML, and advanced form of HTML that had an XML-like structure.

WHATWG strongly felt the W3C’s leadership did not have the web development community’s best interests at heart. This is primarily because the W3C had several non-browser-related entities or members. Eventually, the WHATWG group rebelled. The group ended up adopting and developing the HTML 5 standard. Interestingly, the W3C group formally approved the HTML 5 standard as the next major iteration of the HTML web standard.

Although the two groups collaborated, the WHATWG usually led the development. The group even incorporated several new features before they were formally approved by W3C. This clearly indicated browser vendors considered getting W3C approval as only a formality. The flimsy collaboration abruptly ended when the WHATWG group opposed the W3C’s plans for approving version 4.1 of the DOM standard.

However, the two warring groups appear to have amicably resolved their differences. W3C and WHATWG announced they had signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). According to this MoU, W3C is officially giving up publishing future HTML and DOM standards in favor of the WHATWG. Essentially, W3C has given full autonomy to browser vendors over several critical features and standards.

In the foreseeable future, the W3C and its members will draft “recommendations” for future web standards containing the features they need. WHATWG will then decide what makes it into their web browsers. The official version of the HTML standard will hence be known as the HTML Living Standard. The DOM standard too will be known as DOM Living Standard. Needless to add, both are currently maintained by the WHATWG.


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