The Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (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 in 2004.[1][2] Since then, the editor of the WHATWG specifications, Ian Hickson, has 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.[3]

The WHATWG has a small, invitation-only oversight committee called "Members", which has the power to impeach the editor of the specifications.[4] Anyone can participate as a Contributor by joining the WHATWG mailing list.


The WHATWG was formed in response to the slow development of World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) web standards and W3C's decision to abandon HTML in favor of XML-based technologies.[5] The WHATWG mailing list was announced on 4 June 2004,[6] two days after the initiatives of a joint Opera–Mozilla position paper[7] had been voted down by the W3C members at the W3C Workshop on Web Applications and Compound Documents.[8]

On 10 April 2007, the Mozilla Foundation, Apple, and Opera Software proposed[9] 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 as "HTML5". On 9 May 2007, the new HTML working group of the W3C resolved to do that.[10]

The editor has significant control over the specification, but the community can influence the decisions of the editor.[11] In one case, editor Ian Hickson proposed replacing the <time> tag with a more generic <data> tag, but the community disagreed and the change was reverted.[11]


The WHATWG has been actively working on several documents.

  • The HTML Living Standard (formerly known as HTML5,[12] and Web Applications 1.0 before that) follows HTML 4.01 and defines a broad set of features for use in web documents. It has been adopted by the W3C as the starting point of the work of the new HTML working group. HTML5 that the specification for HTML will be a living document that will have continuous changes as necessary.[13] It includes the core markup language for the web, HTML, as well as numerous APIs like WebSocket, web worker, localStorage, etc.
  • DOM Standard, defines how the Document Object Model on the web is supposed to work and replaces W3C DOM level 3. For example, it replaces mutation events with mutation observers.
  • Fetch Standard,[14] which "defines requests, responses, and the process that binds them: fetching.". The fetch standard defines the 'fetch' JavaScript API, and supersedes the HTML5 fetch functionality, CORS and the HTTP Origin header semantics.
  • Web workers[15] defines an API that enables ECMAScript to use multi-core CPUs more effectively.
  • Microdata Vocabularies[16] defines vocabularies for use with the HTML5 Microdata feature.
  • The Storage Standard defines an API for persistent storage and quota estimates, as well as the platform storage architecture. e.g., IndexedDB, localStorage.
  • The Streams Standard provides APIs for creating, composing, and consuming streams of data. These streams are designed to map efficiently to low-level I/O primitives, and allow easy composition with built-in backpressure and queueing. On top of streams, the web platform can build higher-level abstractions, such as filesystem or socket APIs, while at the same time users can use the supplied tools to build their own streams which integrate well with those of the web platform.
  • The Encoding Standard defines how character encodings such as Windows-1252 and UTF-8 are handled in web browsers and is intended to replace the IETF encodings registry.
  • The MIME type sniffing standard defines how MIME types are supposed to be sniffed in web browsers.
  • The URL standard defines how URLs are supposed to be parsed in web browsers and replaces the IETF RFCs.

See also


  1. ^ "FAQ – What is the WHATWG?". WHATWG. 12 February 2010. Retrieved 24 February 2010. 
  2. ^ Reid, Jonathan (2015). "1 - Welcome to HTML5". HTML5 Programmer's Reference. Apress. pp. In section "A Brief History of HTML" –– "The Formation of the WHATWG and the Creation of HTML5". ISBN 9781430263678. Retrieved 2 December 2015. 
  3. ^ Wilson, Chris (10 January 2007). "You, me and the W3C (aka Reinventing HTML)". Albatross! The personal blog of Chris Wilson, Platform Architect of the Internet Explorer Platform team at Microsoft. Microsoft. Retrieved 30 January 2009. 
  4. ^ "FAQ – How does the WHATWG work?". WHATWG. 22 November 2012. Retrieved 1 January 2013. 
  5. ^ "HTML5: A vocabulary and associated APIs for HTML and XHTML". W3C Recommendations. W3C. Archived from the original on 28 Oct 2014. Retrieved 21 October 2015. Shortly thereafter, Apple, Mozilla, and Opera jointly announced their intent to continue working on the effort under the umbrella of a new venue called the WHATWG. 
  6. ^ Hickson, Ian (4 June 2004). "WHAT open mailing list announcement". WHATWG. Retrieved 24 February 2010. 
  7. ^ Joint Opera–Mozilla position paper voted down prior to the founding of the WHATWG: Position Paper for the W3C Workshop on Web Applications and Compound Documents
  8. ^ "W3C Workshop on Web Applications and Compound Documents (Day 2) Jun 2, 2004". World Wide Web Consortium. 2 Jun 2004. Retrieved 24 February 2010. 
  9. ^ Stachowiak, Maciej (9 Apr 2007). "Proposal to Adopt HTML5". World Wide Web Consortium. Retrieved 24 February 2010. 
  10. ^ Connolly, Dan (9 May 2007). "results of HTML 5 text, editor, name questions". World Wide Web Consortium. Retrieved 24 February 2010. 
  11. ^ a b Way, Jeffrey. "A Brief History of HTML5". Retrieved 2016-10-04. 
  12. ^ Hickson, Ian (23 February 2010). "HTML5 (including next generation additions still in development)". WHATWG. Retrieved 24 February 2010. 
  13. ^ Hickson, Ian (19 January 2011). "HTML is the new HTML5". WHATWG. Retrieved 21 January 2011. 
  14. ^ Hewitt, Rory. "Fetch Standard". WHATWG. Retrieved 2 February 2017. 
  15. ^ Hickson, Ian (23 February 2010). "HTML Standard § Web workers". WHATWG. Retrieved 27 October 2017. 
  16. ^ Hickson, Ian (5 January 2009). "HTML5 (including next generation additions still in development)#5.4 Microdata vocabularies". WHATWG. Retrieved 21 January 2011. 

External links