For long, two standard bodies, WHATWG and W3C have collaborated for the development of HTML. W3C has been around longer but due to the slow pace of development of HTML, WHATWG was devised which helped in speeding up the entire process. However, now the two bodies are splitting up and will no longer collaborate on HTML development together.
There was a time when W3C nearly gave up on HTML development and it was precisely the time when WHATWG came into action. WHATWG stands for Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group whereas W3C is the very well-known World Wide Web Consortium.
Ever since 2004, WHATWG was the main development force behind HTML and its efforts were so significant that WHATWG specification was adopted by W3C as the standard of HTML5. But there have been fundamental differences in the approaches of the two bodies.
WHATWG working on a living HTML standard:
WHATWG has been hailed for its speedy procedures whereas W3C is known for its rather slow pace. This is probably the chief contention that has now resulted in a break-up between the two. From now on, WHATWG will be developing HTML5 and evolving it further by integrating newer technologies over time. The version released by WHATWG will be called a ‘living standard’ for HTML. Naturally, we can expect that the pace of HTML5 development will increase significantly now that WHATWG has one less beaurucracy to worry about.
W3C working on a ‘snapshot’:
W3C, on the other hand, will go through a more cumbersome and slow process and will continue to create traditional standards for HTML. WHATWG terms these standards as ‘snapshots’ to their living standard.
However, the two seem to have parted on a good note, with the goal of ramping up the developmental pace of HTML. According to the editor of WHATWG specification,
“The WHATWG effort is focused on developing the canonical description of HTML and related technologies, meaning fixing bugs as we find them adding new features as they become necessary and viable, and generally tracking implementations. The W3C effort, meanwhile, is now focused on creating a snapshot developed according to the venerable W3C process. This led to the chairs of the W3C HTML working group and myself deciding to split the work into two, with a different person responsible for editing the W3C HTML5, canvas, and microdata specifications than is editing the WHATWG specification.”
However, this may pose a few problems for the developers as they will have to keep their eyes on both the living standard as well as the snapshot. But in the long-run, this may be beneficial for HTML5 itself.