W3C and WHATWG Agree To Work Together Over HTML and DOM
Written by Ian Elliot   
Tuesday, 28 May 2019

W3C and WHATWG have today signed an agreement that will allow for the development of a single version of the HTML and DOM specifications. This effectively reverses a split that took place seven years ago.


The announcement of the Memorandum of Understanding Between W3C and WHATWG states:

Motivated by the belief that having two distinct HTML and DOM specifications claiming to be normative is generally harmful for the community, and the mutual desire to bring the work back together, W3C and WHATWG agree to the following terms:

  • W3C and WHATWG work together on HTML and DOM, in the WHATWG repositories, to produce a Living Standard and Recommendation/Review Draft-snapshots

  • WHATWG maintains the HTML and DOM Living Standards

  • W3C facilitates community work directly in the WHATWG repositories (bridging communities, developing use cases, filing issues, writing tests, mediating issue resolution)

  • W3C stops independent publishing of a designated list of specifications related to HTML and DOM and instead will work to take WHATWG Review Drafts to W3C Recommendations


Having two standards for HTML5 has indeed been inconvenient. When we reported the split back in 2012, Which HTML5? - WHATWG and W3C Split  I commented:

Overall this doesn't seem to be a good development. It will no longer be possible to say exactly what HTML5 is - the W3C's snapshot or the living standard of WHATWG.

Having the two bodies working together should bring us the best of both worlds - the speedier responsiveness of WHATWG, they are the people who made HTML 5 happen, which effectively will be the body working on the specifications, plus the oversight of the W3C for "broader issues".

As the W3C announcement confirms:

W3C remains committed to ensuring that HTML development continues to take into account the needs of the global community, and continues to improve in areas such as accessibility, internationalization and privacy while providing greater interoperability, performance and security.

This has been an interesting experiment and fortunately for us it mostly worked. After the HTML 5 specification was finalized. the split between WHATWG and W3C caused some confusion. but today it is more about what the key browsers - Chromium, Firefox and Safari - actually support rather than the standards. Yes it's still the era of "can I use?".


More Information

Memorandum of Understanding Between W3C and WHATWG

Related Articles

Which HTML5? - WHATWG and W3C Split

HTML5 After The Hype

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Last Updated ( Friday, 08 November 2019 )