WHAT open mailing list announcement

WHATWG, Friday, June 4th 2004

The Web Hypertext Applications Technology Working Group is a loose, unofficial, and open collaboration of Web browser manufacturers and interested parties. The group aims to develop specifications based on HTML and related technologies to ease the deployment of interoperable Web Applications, with the intention of submitting the results to a standards organisation. This submission would then form the basis of work on formally extending HTML in the standards track.

The creation of this forum follows from several months of work by private e-mail on specifications for such technologies. The main focus up to this point has been extending HTML4 Forms to support features requested by authors, without breaking backwards compatibility with existing content. This group was created to ensure that future development of these specifications will be completely open, through a publicly-archived, open mailing list. Working drafts of the specifications will be continuously available on the WHATWG Web site. As the drafts reach stable milestones, the group will publish snapshots for extensive review by the community.


Software developers are increasingly using the Internet as a software platform, with Web browsers serving as front ends for server-based services. Existing W3C technologies — including HTML, CSS and the DOM — are used, together with other technologies such as JavaScript, to build user interfaces for these Web-based applications.

However, the aforementioned technologies were not developed with Web Applications in mind, and these systems often have to rely on poorly documented behaviors. Furthermore, the next generation of Web Applications will add new requirements to the development environment — requirements these technologies are not prepared to fulfill alone. The new technologies being developed by the W3C and IETF can contribute to Web Applications, but these are often designed to address other needs and only consider Web Applications in a peripheral way.

The Web Hypertext Applications Technology working group therefore intends to address the need for one coherent development environment for Web Applications. To this end, the working group will create technical specifications that are intended for implementation in mass-market Web browsers, in particular Safari, Mozilla, and Opera.

Initially, the following documents will be written:

More specifications may be added to cover other Web Application requirements. For example, the working group may work on specifications for new semantic elements needed in common Web contexts such as e-commerce, forums, Web logs, and games.

The working group intends to ensure that all its specifications address backwards compatibility concerns, clearly provide reasonable transition strategies for authors, and specify error handling behavior to ensure interoperability even in the face of documents that do not comply to the letter of the specifications.

For more information, visit the Web Hypertext Applications Technology working group Web site at http://whatwg.org/.

Ian Hickson, on behalf of the WHATWG members.