Apple’s Safari team comments on the new W3C HTML WG charter

Microsoft’s Chris Wilson being proposed as the initial chair of the W3C’s new HTML Working Group is not the only thing about the HTML WG Charter that is causing debate.

Apple’s Safari developer team responds to the charter in HTML Standards Process Returning from the Grave, a post in which they list the problems they feel need to be resolved. Their proposed changes to the HTML Working Group Charter include, among other things, the following:

  • We strongly object to the 10% market share threshold in the Success Criteria.
  • We would like the charter to clarify that new features such as editing support will be specified in a platform-neutral and device-independent way.
  • We request that the charter call for a formal relationship with Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG), even though the group itself is informal.

I fully agree that the 10% market share requirement is way too high. Only Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox currently pass that, which means they can call all the shots together (not that that is very likely, but still).

Platform-neutral and device-independent editing support would be fantastic, and could make it possible to put an end to the broken WYSIWYG editors that plague the Web.

And finally, I think it’s obvious that the W3C WG needs to work with the WHATWG on this. The charter does say that:

However, the Working Group will attempt to liaise with external groups, such as the WHAT WG, and with the content developer community.

Making the relationship to the WHATWG formal makes a lot of sense to me. If they don’t, there may be trouble. I also wonder if “the content developer community” means you and me.

Posted on January 22, 2007 in (X)HTML, Quicklinks


  1. The HTML WG charter does acknowledge external groups but it’s their language which I find troublesome, i.e., “However, the Working Group will attempt to liaise…” I would have more confidence in the HTML WG if they had written “However, the Working Group will liaise…”

    We’ll see.

  2. Interesting times lie ahead I think. Having a Microsoft guy at the helm does concern me. I’d far rather someone who’s demonstrably neutral. As for the 10% threshold - it makes sense to have one, it stops a plethora of bit-players and guarantees a level of professionalism, but given MS’s ubiquity, 10% is probably way too high.

  3. I’ve been concerned with the WHATWG thing for awhile. I appreciate their effort, but the idea that W3C would restart its HTML efforts was always a thought in the back of my mind. While we have DOCTYPEs, it’s feasible to have an infinite number of versions of HTML from however many camps are interested in making one. However, WHAT WG may have oversimplified the DOCTYPE, by throwing out DTDs altogether. So, I’m not sure how that will play out.

    Switching gears, I liked how one comment addressed changes to the 10% rule. I would have posted a response there, but I didn’t want to create a login. This particular solution seems most viable to me. That means that Microsoft, Mozilla, Opera, and Webkit all would have a say in things. As it stands, the large part of web browsers use these 4 engines, with Opera and Webkit making strong inroads on mobile devices. With the new WCAG 2 trying their best to be very device agnostic, it seems like the W3C would want to carry this mindset across the board when possible.

  4. 10% is to high. Wasn’t it just six months ago when Firefox barely made it over that threshold (depending on which source you got the stats from)? Who the heck came up with that number?

  5. The 10% should refer to market share after the removal of IE from the equation. That would be fair I think.

  6. What is the optimal market share % for success criteria? 5%? 2%? I think its a bit arbitrary to pull in a nice round number. And on this, how will W3C manage fluctuating market share in the future? Once every 12 months on sustained market share data?

  7. January 23, 2007 by zcorpan

    I think the market share requirement could well be replaced with the this text from CSS 2.1, or something equivalent:

    a user agent which:

    1. implements the feature.
    2. is available (i.e. publicly downloadable or available through some other public point of sale mechanism). This is the “show me” requirement.
    3. is shipping (i.e. development, private or unofficial versions are insufficient).
    4. is not experimental (i.e. is intended for a wide audience and could be used on a daily basis).
  8. Point 5, gleaned from

    To be successful, the HTML Working Group is expected to have active participation for its duration. If fewer than three implementors (i.e., browser vendors) are participating in the Working Group, its charter should be re-examined by the W3C. Also decisions are consensus based meaning in the most skewered way possible that the microsoft guy needs to get a majority behind him so they can implement their evil plans ;-)

    There are no three vendors with over 10% market share. Time for a new remit? I would like to make one comment on the chair Chris Wilson. He might work for Microsoft (who may be arrogant). Chris himself seems too me to be an open and humble guy. And maybe because he is representing Microsoft as well as his own love of browsers and html he will play ball and play ball well. Also lots of the big names are on first name terms with Chris (I’m thinking Molly, Andy Clark etc.). [Small aside] If I remember rightly Ray Ozzie (CTO) did a Microsoft demo with Firefox last year, how evil is that then?.

    Roger… did you not get a chance to talk with Chris last year in London at @media? Seriously though… if there are any places left, why don’t they invite one of the WHATWG guys to join?

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