HTML5: The Battlefield Remains of an Unnecessary War, Part 1

by The H.E.A.T. Exchange

Prologue

Based on my understanding, the W3C is the host to HTML and its different dialects (XHTML, for example).

A small group of renegades sponsored by major corporations with proprietary interests decided to take a free technology and make it more exclusive than open (whatever the hell open means these days).

In times of war, citizens will have to choose sides, or their choices will be made for them when faced with obstacles as a result of the war. Side with the W3C (with its brigades of sluggish defenders) or the WHATWG (the aforementioned renegades)?

Not being an expert in web technologies nor in business, I tend to search for  fundamental aspects leading to such a turbulent affair. A couple of well-known facts come to mind.

The W3C is a member organization where members actually pay to become a part of.

The parties involved in the WHATWG are members of the W3C.

So, what was the issue surrounding the fracturing of a core technology of the web: the future direction of HTML?

Based on my understanding, the W3C wanted the HTML specification to have a more XML flavor and the WHATWG had other plans in mind. This is where things start to get petty (and I mean that in the derogatory sense of the word).

See, XML requires documents to be well-formed. Not surprisingly, browsers can parse (and subsequently render) a webpage coded in XML faster and more efficiently than those coded in non-X versions of HTML. Thus, XML puts the responsibility of professional webpage coding in the hands of web authors instead of relying on best-guess fixes by browsers.

On the surface, the war between the W3C and the WHATWG seems to be where one side wants to move the web towards a more professional, extensible, and open direction and the other side wants to continue accommodating sloppy coding practices and hard work by the browsers.

But things don’t always appear as they do on the surface, do they?

End of prologue

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