Anne van Kesteren


In the end what I care about is building great technology. The WHATWG made that interesting by resetting the rules. It was no longer important that someone at some point decided doctypes were great. That HTML was SGML-based contrary to all known implementations. That HTML had a version number that in practice was irrelevant. There were all these concepts accepted as given and we threw most of them away and made the technology much simpler as a result.

We developed HTML in the open, taking input from anyone, and pretty much from anywhere (mostly tracking blogs back in the day). Until that point HTML was by and large developed by a committee in private meetings. And of course there were people that objected to all these changes. But by making HTML great again and addressing the problems people were facing with it, we managed to get momentum and acceptance.

Three years after the WHATWG was formed the W3C was open to the idea of HTML again and restarted its HTML effort to produce HTML5. Within the HTML WG the topic of discussion on any given day were governance and process. Technical discussions were rare and the tone not very pleasant. Progress was still made on the WHATWG side, but somewhat strained by people putting effort into trying to make the HTML WG work. Five years in most have given up and at the same time the HTML WG chairs announced yet more rules to be followed. They also decided to start maintaining their own fork.

Change is hard. I quit the HTML WG politics game as what happened the other day was inevitable. Once you start distrusting the people that do the actual work, they will leave and have fun elsewhere. Once again WHATWG solely works on its own draft of HTML and the market will decide if it’s worthy.