A Brief Recap

In a continued evolution which should be of surprise to absolutely no one who has been paying attention for the last few years, the HTML5/HTML debacle continues. Over a year ago the split became quite visible when the WHATWG dropped the major version number from HTML5 to just "HTML" displaying a massive cultural schism from the W3C.

A recent mailing list post clearly defined the split.

So what's going on?

From what i can tell, this boils down to a cultural rift - The W3C is much more old-school engineering mindset, while the WHATWG comes across as more activist-oriented to get the ball moving. I don't intend for that to sound derogatory toward the WHATWG, there was certainly a period of time where it seemed a kick in the pants was needed on standards.

Ultimately, the massive amount of programming and testing needed for features do NOT move at the "speed of the internet". The engineering discipline required to create sane well-thought features lead me to side with the W3C's approach. A standard must be made. If it's constantly changing it is by definition not a standard. The "living standard" the WHATWG proposes is a proposal to turn the public into beta-testers.

And the problem is...

Even with one standard, browser vendors have had varying degrees of implementation and on top of that varying interpretations of standards. This has only gotten worse with the advent of phone and tablet browsers which go bleeding-edge on some pieces and fall on their faces on others - but in different places than their desktop brethren. Placing two diverging sets of expectations underneath this is not going to help.

In practical terms, this is already increasing development time, complexity, and cost.