Posted by: h4ck@lyst | September 2, 2007

The Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group, or WHATWG, is a community of people interested in evolving HTML and related technologies. The WHATWG was founded by individuals from Apple, the Mozilla Foundation and Opera Software.[1] Ian Hickson, the editor of the WHATWG specifications, has since moved to Google. Chris Wilson of Microsoft was invited but did not join citing the lack of a patent policy to ensure all specifications can be implemented on a royalty-free basis.[2]

The WHATWG has a small invite-only steering committee called “Members” who have the power to impeach the editor of the specifications. Anyone can participate as a Contributor by joining the WHATWG mailing list. The mailing list has about 700 subscribers.

The WHATWG was formed in response to the slow development of web standards monitored by the W3C. The WHATWG mailing list was announced on 4 April 2004,[3] two days after the initiatives of a joint Opera–Mozilla position paper had been voted down by the W3C members at the W3C Workshop on Web Applications and Compound Documents.[4]

On 200704-10, the Mozilla Foundation, Apple and Opera Software proposed[5] that the new HTML working group of the W3C adopt the WHATWG’s HTML5 as the starting point of its work and name its future deliverable “HTML 5”. On 200705-09, the new HTML working group resolved to do that.[6]


The WHATWG has been actively working on two documents.

  • HTML 5 (formerly titled Web Applications 1.0) is the fifth major version of the HTML and has been adopted by the W3C as the starting point of the work of the new HTML working group.
  • Web Forms 2.0 is an update to HTML forms. The spec will no longer be developed standalone but the features will be folded into HTML 5.

Additionally, there is a very early draft called Web Controls 1.0, which is not actively being worked on.


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