Apple, Opera, and Mozilla: Why are you working against open standards?



I have a question for Mozilla, Opera, and Apple: why are you working against open standards?

Why do you still support an organization, known as the WhatWG, that has proven itself to be detrimental to an open and inclusive specification development effort?

Recently I wrote about a kerfuffle that happened within the HTML WG, when the editor, Ian Hickson, decided to insert snarky material in the WhatWG version of the HTML5 spec, and then point the W3C version to this snarky material. The material has since been removed but the problem still remains, because we still have two versions of HTML5. We still have confusion about which one is official. We still have divisive discussions, consisting of parties of them and us, rather than one group working on one document.

Two versions of HTML5—has there ever been anything more absurd? They're not the same, either. When the W3C HTML WG makes a decision about changing the HTML5 specification, the WhatWG copy doesn't reflect this change. And the HTML5 editor adds all sorts of unproven and controversial stuff to the WhatWG version of the document, but still pretends that it is an "official" copy of the specification. Excuse me, official future versionless version of HTML5, which only implies that you all plan on continuing this debacle into the future.

When web communities outside of the picked handful of browser implementers protest, we're called names, accused of whining and various forms of skullduggery, disdained, mocked and made fun of, and generally, it seems to me that you three companies are forgetting one inescapable fact: we're your customers. Yeah, sucks, doesn't it?

Why does the WhatWG still exist? You have long had your way when it comes to HTML5. The W3C dropped work on XHTML2, and started work on HTML5; browser companies control two of the three co-chair seats; the implementers are given precedence when it comes to what's in the document...I mean, what more do you need? Gold stars by your names? A lollipop?

If you're expecting us to meekly allow one person to have absolute control over what's in HTML5, forget it. There's not a development team in the world that would give one individual the control you seem willing to give to the HTML5 editor.

You can't blame this state of affairs on Microsoft, because it is actually operating solely within the W3C. The same as Google, though Google does employ the HTML5 editor. No, your three companies are on the so-called document copyright. You have claimed ownership of the WhatWG. You are the WhatWG.

So why don't you stop? Why don't you see the damage you're causing by turning a blind eye to what's happening in the WhatWG name? I would rather you do this then spend time, one upping each other by implementing one more cool, non-standard innovation in your products.

I know all three of your companies have good people who have done much for HTML5, and we do appreciate it. All three of you have people who are just as unhappy about the state of affairs regarding WhatWG. But the good stuff they do is frequently outweighed by the bad, when we have to once against stop moving forward because of WhatWG/W3C conflict.

Getting cool stuff is no longer enough. You see, we've grown up. We like cool, but we want solid performance and some sense of stability. We definitely only want one version of HTML5. So, Apple, Opera, Mozilla: why don't you grow up, too?

Shelley Powers posts the oddest assortment of links amidst the tiniest of blurbs on Twitter, @shelleypowers