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HTML Working Group

Updated: 2017-06-25T16:08Z

The HTML Working Group is a working group originally created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in 1997.

The working group is co-chaired by Paul Cotton, Sam Ruby, and Maciej Stachowiak.


Members of the HTML Working Group include representatives from the following organizations:

W3C has also invited several experts to collaborate with the working group including:

Internal working system

The HTMLWG has members from a diverse community such as content provider, content authors and anyone interested in the work on HTML.

Exchange ideas and solve problems

In the HTML5 WG, groups operate under W3C Patent Policy. Members can make suggestions and ask for helps. If the team cannot come to an agreement on some ideas, they would be submitted to the Editor to decide. Members have right to elect a new Editor. After the last one Ian Hickson resigned, this job is undertaken by several persons, each of whom is in charge of different areas.


To participate in the group, the steps involve having a W3C account and filling out a form for copyright, content etc. policies. Steps are different for people who are affiliated with W3C Member organization and those who are not.[1]

Communication methods

  • Mailing lists (used to organize activities such as task-force discussions and working-group administrative purposes)
  • HTML-WG Channel (for weekly telcons and informal discussions)


  • Weekly telcons (On Thursday and Tuesday)
  • Face-to-face (twice a year, and the latest one was held in San Jose, on April 8–9, 2014)[2]

See HTML/wg/WorkMode for more details about the way a member can participate in, responsibilities of Editor, various types of meetings that members can attend, etc.

Interest Groups

To encourage broad based participation, three locale-based interest groups has been setup, which is the Chinese, Japanese and Korean Interest Groups. Currently the HTML5 Chinese Interest Group has over 1000 members participation.


Change in working direction

In 1999, W3C released HTML 4.01 and then stopped continuing the evolution of HTML, as the W3C's HTMLWG announced it would change their direction to exploitation of XML-based version of HTML (named XHTML 2.0), which has a stricter standard.

The traditional version of HTML allowed uncertainties in code review, which means even there are some mistakes in the web pages, browser will still display the contents through error detection and correction. "Nowadays, there would be at least one mistake existing in over 99% HTML web pages. " estimated by the Google senior programmer Mark Pilgrim.[3]

W3C' HTMLWG hoped to boost a more regulated development of the future of the Internet through rigorous standards. While the popularization and application of XHTML had not received many responses from the public.


In 2004, Mozilla and Opera put forward a plan based on HTML 4, as they wanted to continue the evolution of HTML. The plan was not passed. Then they decided to form WHATWG, in order to pursue the future of HTML along with W3C’S HTMLWG but in different direction.[3]

In 2006, WHATWG made a breakthrough while XHTML 2.0 was still impractical. As a result, Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of W3C announced that the W3C’S HTMLWG would stop to jointly develop HTML5 with WHATWG. Ian Hickson was responsible for both editing the two groups' specifications.[4]

In October 2009, W3C dismissed the XHTML 2 group.


In July 2012, W3C’s HTMLWG and WHATWG are officially parting ways about the working on HTML5. WHATWG takes a charge of evolving HTML5 and W3C works on a more static "snapshot". Therefore, there will be two versions of HTML5 - one is "living standard" and the other one is "snapshot". The split between two bodies was due to the conflicts on ideas.[5]

Regarding to fears of this split from the public, the head of WHATWG, Ian Hickson said the split would not be as harmful as people thought. "It’s certainly possible that the specs will fork, but it’s unlikely, or at least, unlikely to happen in a way that is harmful." In his opinion, possible conflicts will lead to a more precise standard. And "Browser vendors will just know to use the more precise one."[6]

Differences between WHATWG and HTMLWG

WHATWG expects to maintain a living standard and stop using version numbers. W3C’s HTMLWG leaves the WHATWG spec in order to stick producing snapshots that provide implementors (like browser makers and web developers) with a stable, solid spec. Because the W3C version has more regulations (known as P3P) for implementation, by proving interoperability, it works much more slowly than the WHATWG. On the other hand, however, it ensures the accuracy and stability.[7][8]

Future Plans

The group expects to reach Recommendation by 2014 and then develop the new version HTML 5.1 by 2016. In general, HTML WG is going to maintain stable features in HTML5 which meet the "Public Permissive" CR exit criteria. Then a HTML 5.1 draft is made with those unstable features and new proposed features. In HTML 5.2 they will repeat the process again.[9] They aims to evolve HTML5 in order to make the specification stable, ensure the interoperability and encourage innovations. At the initial stage the draft will focus on qualitative assessments. As soon as the HTMLWG get more test cases into the W3C Testing Framework, they can use the quantitative data to make quantitative assessments for the features in the specification.[10] "Even as innovation continues, advancing HTML5 to Recommendation provides the entire Web ecosystem with a stable, tested, interoperable specification,"[11] said Jeff Jaffe, W3C CEO. To fulfil the mission on time, members are encouraged to participate in the discussion of all the specifications in progress.

See HTML WG Status Report and Plan 2014 for more information about the group's schedule in 2014.

See also

About the HTMLWG, a brief summary of HTMLWG.


  1. ^ "How YOU can join the W3C HTML5 Working Group in 4 easy steps". the paciello group. Steve Faulkner. Retrieved 2 December 2011. 
  2. ^ "html working group". w3c. 
  3. ^ a b Guan, Wang. "HTML5:正在发生的未来". China Economic Herald. IT经理世界. Retrieved 13 November 2012. 
  4. ^ "The Difference Between the WHATWG and the HTMLWG". webmonkey. 
  5. ^ "HTML is the new HTML5". the WHATWG blog. Ian Hickson. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  6. ^ "W3C and WHATWG finalize split on HTML5 spec, forking 'unlikely'". The Verge. Jeff Blagdon. Retrieved 22 July 2012. 
  7. ^ "HTML5 Work Splits Into ‘Living’ And ‘Snapshot’ Standards. Developers Need Not Worry, Says Living Standard Leader". techcrunch. Ingrid Lunden (@ingridlunden). Retrieved 22 July 2012. 
  8. ^ "HTML5 Definition Complete, W3C Moves to Interoperability Testing and Performance". semanticweb. Eric Franzon. Retrieved 17 December 2012. 
  9. ^ "W3C Announces Plan to Make HTML5 Standard By 2014". tom's guide. Kevin Parrish. Retrieved 23 September 2012. 
  10. ^ "W3C HTML Working Group's 2014 HTML5 plan mapped out". developertech. James Bourne. Retrieved 21 September 2012. 
  11. ^ "W3C Extends HTML Working Charter: HTML5 Last Call in May 2011 and Recommendation in 2014" (HTML5 Recommendation). 14 February 2011. 

External links

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