HTML and CSS Reference
by the same editor. Why the need for two separate groups? Politics. For various reasons,
some stakeholders in the process can't join WHATWG and others can't join W3C. As a
result, both groups continue to work concurrently.
A.1.1. WHATWG vs. W3C
The goal of WHATWG is to continually update the “HTML Living Standard” based on
feedback from all stakeholders to maintain a position slightly ahead of current implement-
ations. WHATWG has given up on version numbers and sees the standard as an evolving
document. It aims to stay just ahead of the functionality in browsers, providing a forum for
everyone to agree on the details of any new feature and documentation of the final imple-
W3C is sticking with the traditional version-based approach. We can expect HTML5 to
be followed by HTML6 and HTML7, all using a snapshot of the WHATWG document
as a basis. As a result, W3C has split what exists as one specification at the WHATWG
into (currently) eight different specifications so that features can develop at their own pace
without holding up the release of standards. You can find a list of the individual specifica-
tions at WHATWG's FAQ page: http://mng.bz/dWRb .
Another key difference between the groups is decision making. In WHATWG, the editor
has complete control when it comes to making decisions regarding the HTML5 specifica-
tion. W3C has an HTML Working Group with its own escalation process for making de-
cisions on disputed issues.
W3C has a large number of specifications outside of HTML, and one goal is that all the
specs should be compatible. W3C has been focused on XML-based technologies for a num-
ber of years, and WHATWG was formed in opposition to the pure XML approach, so this
has been the underlying source of the disagreements so far. But despite some heated dis-
cussions, the two specs are yet to diverge.
To help you keep the key differences straight, refer to the summary in table A.1 .