The Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group

Workstream Policy

If this Workstream Policy conflicts with the Intellectual Property Rights Policy, the Intellectual Property Rights Policy controls.

Whenever this Policy says to notify or contact the Steering Group, this should be done via its issue tracker as defined in the Steering Group Policy, unless stated otherwise. Informal notice is not sufficient.


  1. "Editor" means a person designated by the Steering Group as having authority to modify a Living Standard and other documents in a particular Workstream, and to publish the Living Standard Review Drafts in that Workstream.

  2. "Living Standard" means a single, unified technical specification, published by the WHATWG as a Living Standard, as modified from time to time by the Editor of the associated Workstream. Living Standards are intended to include only those features that are likely to be implemented in major browser engines and are suitable for adoption and implementation by other browser engine developers and integrators.

  3. "Inanimate Standards" are published Standards that are no longer under development by the WHATWG.

  4. "Incubation" means the work of exploring and developing technologies that require additional testing and refinement before browser engine developers can reasonably make a preliminary commitment to implement the technology in publicly distributed browsers.

  5. "Living Standard Review Draft" or "Review Draft" is a version of a Living Standard that is published as the reference for patent review and potential claim exclusion by Workstream Participants.

  6. "Other Publications" means any publication of the WHATWG other than Living Standards and Review Drafts.

  7. "Workstream" means a unified technical development effort (in most cases developing a single Living Standard, more than one only if inextricably bound together). Workstreams and Contributions are publicly visible.

  8. "Workstream Participant" means any person or Entity that has executed a Contributor and Workstream Participant Agreement.

  9. "Workstream Repository" means the issue tracker and tidy Git repository with linear history that hosts development of a Workstream's Living Standards and other products.

  10. "Workstream Scope" means the technical scope of a Workstream.


Workstreams in progress

The Steering Group maintains a document listing active Workstreams of the WHATWG, including their Scope, appointed Editor, and all Living Standards they include.

Workstream publications

Workstream Living Standards

Each Workstream is dedicated to a single Living Standard (or, if unavoidable, two or more inextricably interdependent Living Standards) and may also publish documents directly associated with the Living Standard. A Workstream must publish its first Review Draft no later than six months after formation.

Other Workstream publications

Works other than technical specifications may be proposed and published as determined by the Steering Group.

Editor discretion

Within the approved Workstream Scope, the Editor evolves the Living Standard and other publications of the Workstream. The Workstream's Editor may add, remove, merge or split Living Standards and other associated documents, so long as all deliverables are still within the Workstream's Scope. If the change affects Living Standards, the Editor must notify the Steering Group 14 Days in advance of the change.

New Workstreams

Determining Workstream Scope

The Steering Group approves new Workstreams and determines the Scope.

Workstream Proposals
  1. Anyone can create a Workstream Proposal by detailing a problem statement and proposed Living Standard that is likely to be implemented by the major browser engine developers; proposals must describe the work in sufficient detail to proceed with the development of a Living Standard within the WHATWG's stated purposes. Workstreams are not intended for Incubation or speculative projects.
  2. A Workstream Proposal must be publicly available, including any referenced documents, and in English.
  3. A Workstream Proposal must include the following:
    1. Proposed Workstream name.
    2. Statement of purpose, including problem to be solved, proposed solution, status of the proposed solution, and how it is consistent with the WHATWG Principles and appropriate for a Workstream.
    3. Specific Scope of work (included and excluded).
    4. Proposed deliverables.
    5. Draft of the proposed Living Standard plus (optionally) a list of other proposed deliverables.
    6. A list of similar or related work being undertaken or proposed elsewhere and its relationship to the proposed Workstream.
    7. Anticipated commencement date and timeline for work going forward.
    8. Anticipated Workstream Participants.
    9. Description or list of those likely to implement or otherwise have an interest in the work.
    10. Expectations regarding long-term maintenance of the Living Standard.
  4. The Steering Group will consider and respond to all Workstream Proposals.

Workstream changes

  1. Workstreams may be modified by the Steering Group, including but not limited to the following:
    1. The Steering Group may split a Workstream into multiple successor Workstreams, each with a Scope that does not exceed that of the input Workstream. The Steering Group must determine the Scope and Living Standards for each successor Workstream. In such cases, all Participants in the input Workstream automatically become Participants in each newly-created successor Workstream.
    2. The Steering Group may merge multiple Workstreams into a single successor Workstream, whose Scope encompasses that of all input Workstreams and which contains all Living Standards of the input Workstreams. The Steering Group must determine the Scope of the successor Workstream. In such cases, the newly-created successor Workstream does not automatically gain the Participants of the input Workstreams; the Steering Group should reach out to these Participants and encourage them to participate again.
    3. The Steering Group may modify a Workstream Scope, in which event (a) the Steering Group must publish the proposed modifications at least 14 Days before they become effective, and (b) current and prospective Workstream Participants may provide feedback to the Steering Group (comments, proposed changes, objections, etc.).
    4. The Steering Group may terminate a Workstream. (Terminating a Workstream does not foreclose additional development; it only terminates the Workstream process as to a particular Living Standard and Other Publications of that Workstream.)
  2. Editors or Participants may propose Scope changes to the Steering Group.

Living Standards


Submitting contributions

Contributions are deemed to have been made jointly by both the individual submitting the Contribution and any Entity identified in the Contributor and Workstream Participant Agreement.

Withdrawing contributions

A Contributor may withdraw a Contribution to a Workstream by notice to the Steering Group delivered before 45 Days have elapsed since the Contribution was made.

Modifying the Living Standard

Only a Workstream's Editor may modify the text of a Workstream's Living Standards. In doing so, Editors take into consideration the factors set forth in Working Mode. An Editor may appoint one or more deputy editors authorized to modify the text on behalf of the Editor.


Editors update Living Standards; changes are publicly visible in the repository.

Contribution validation

After the IPR Policy becomes effective, Editors are responsible for ensuring that material included in their Living Standards is governed by a Contributor and Workstream Participant Agreement.


Editors must tag their Living Standards' text for identification as follows.

Objection Pending

Editors must tag text "Objection Pending" if a Workstream Participant has delivered a request for review and resolution by the Steering Group.


Editors must tag text "Patent Exclusion Filed" if a Patent Exclusion Notice:

  1. has been filed that identifies the text in question with sufficient precision for the Editor to tag the designated lines or components, and
  2. has not been withdrawn or resolved.

The Editor is not required to include tags if, in the Editor's judgment, the Patent Exclusion Notice is not sufficiently clear regarding precisely which text is in question; omission of a tag does not, however, affect the applicability or validity of the Patent Exclusion Notice.

Optional tags

An Editor may, at the Editor's discretion, also tag text such as the following:

  1. Editors may tag text "Objection Pending" if:
    1. They anticipate substantive objections from a Steering Group Member , even if not yet formally registered.
    2. They anticipate substantive objections from a Workstream Participant, even if not yet formally registered; or if a Workstream Participant has indicated their intent to request review by the Steering Group.
    3. In the Editor's judgment the text otherwise does not meet the WHATWG criteria or other criteria set forth by the Steering Group.
  2. Editors may tag text "Under Discussion" if:
    1. The text requires further development before it is stable, but is being retained (e.g., for purposes of completing the development because testing or user experience indicates problems with interoperability or function, or the text was recently introduced and is not yet fully integrated, etc.).


  1. The Steering Group may reclassify Living Standards, including but not limited to the following:
    1. No further development by the WHATWG ("Inanimate" or other designation of the Steering Group).
    2. No longer published as a WHATWG Living Standard ("Depublished").

Review Drafts


Review Drafts serve as the reference for patent review and potential claim exclusion by Workstream Participants.


Editors publish Review Drafts approximately every six months.


When an Editor publishes a Review Draft, they must post a note in the Workstream Repository and the Patent Exclusion Period commences; no additional notice to Workstream Participants is required.


Review Drafts are substantially identical to the associated Living Standard except that, prior to publication for review, Review Drafts redact from the Living Standard text tagged "Objection Pending" or "Under Discussion".

Roles and participation


Nature of the role

Editors are responsible for the technical content of their Workstreams, and accordingly have sole authority to modify WHATWG documents in the Workstream for which they serve as Editor (e.g., to adopt or adapt Contributions, including their own; accept pull requests; etc.), and to publish the associated Living Standard, periodic Review Drafts, and documentation (if any).


Editors must have command of the technical subject matter; Editors (and any Entity with which they are affiliated) must be Workstream Participants in the Workstream to which they are appointed.

Appointing and removing Editors
  1. Steering Group appoints and may remove the Editor for each Workstream.
  2. Editors may resign by notice to the Steering Group.
Rights, privileges, and obligations

Editors are responsible for ensuring that

  1. Their WHATWG Living Standards are within the Workstream Scope and consistent with the WHATWG Principles and other criteria set by the Steering Group;
  2. after the IPR Policy becomes effective, only Contributions from those who have signed the Contributor and Workstream Participant Agreement are incorporated into a Living Standard, and
  3. there are no unresolved substantive objections from Workstream Participants before merging Contributions into or otherwise modifying a Living Standard.
  4. Editors also ensure that text of their Living Standards and Review Drafts is tagged as required.
Relationships with other groups
  1. Editors must respond to substantive issues raised by Workstream Participants in their Workstreams. Editors have discretion to resolve issues based on available information.
  2. If a Workstream Participant is not satisfied with an issue resolution, they may request that the Editor revisit the issue. If not satisfied with an Editor's final response, Workstream Participants may appeal to the Steering Group.
  3. Editors may solicit input from Workstream Participants, and may consider and respond to comments, suggestions, and objections from Contributors and the public.
  1. Editors may commit changes to their Living Standards without further review, provided they are adhering to the requirements above.
  2. The Steering Group may override an Editor's decision, or remove an Editor.

Workstream Participants


Workstream participation is open to all.

Point of contact

Each legal entity that participates in a Workstream must identify a single person to serve as primary contact with the Steering Group via the Contributor and Workstream Participant Agreement. Entities may change the primary contact using the Workstream update interface.

Specifying participation

Workstream Participants specify which Workstreams they are participating in via the Contributor and Workstream Participant Agreement. Workstream Participants may change the Workstreams they participate in using the Workstream update interface.


Workstream Participants may participate in the development of Living Standards and provide input to the Editor regarding adoption of Contributions and modifications to the Living Standard.

  1. A Workstream Participant may discontinue participation in a Workstream at any time using the Workstream update interface.

  2. A Workstream Participant incurs no new obligations after a withdrawal or termination from a Workstream, but obligations incurred up to that time (e.g., licensing obligations regarding Contributions and Review Drafts) do not terminate.


Workstream Participants may raise substantive issues for resolution by the Steering Group if not resolved within the Workstream (e.g., scope, direction, Editor decisions, and participation).

  1. To raise an issue formally for review by the Editor and other Workstream Participants, a Workstream Participant must:
    1. Identify the issue clearly (technical problem, interoperability issue, delta from Workstream Scope, inconsistency with the WHATWG Principles, etc.) and recommend a solution;
    2. Post the request for review in the Workstream Repository; and
    3. Endeavor to resolve the issue with the Editor or in concert with other Workstream Participants.
  2. If the Workstream Participant finds those efforts unsatisfactory, they may:
    1. Summarize the issue and the efforts to resolve it, and forward the summary and any supporting details to the Steering Group, with a copy to the Workstream.
    2. The Steering Group may then invite the Editor and other Workstream Participants to comment, may request additional materials, schedule a meeting, or take other actions for its review.
  3. The Steering Group will make its determination in its sole discretion.

The Steering Group may remove a Workstream Participant, Entity, or individual. For example, the Steering Group may remove a Workstream Participant for a violation of the WHATWG Code of Conduct, for failure to comply with the Contributor and Workstream Participant Agreement, or not complying with the IPR Policy. The Steering Group's determination in each instance is final and non-appealable.


Notice for Living Standards

Living Standards must include the following notice, including the link:

Copyright © YEAR WHATWG (Apple, Google, Mozilla, Microsoft). This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

In the text above, YEAR must be replaced by the current year at the time the Living Standard is published.

For each Living Standard that has had at least one Review Draft published, it must also include the following notice:

This is the Living Standard. Those interested in the patent-review version should view the Living Standard Review Draft.

In the text above, "Living Standard Review Draft" must link to the latest Review Draft.

Notice for Living Standard Review Drafts

Living Standard Review Drafts must include the following notice, including the link:

Copyright © YEAR WHATWG (Apple, Google, Mozilla, Microsoft). This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

In the text above, YEAR must be replaced by the current year at the time the Living Standard Review Draft is published.

In addition, Living Standard Review Drafts must include the following notice:

This is the Review Draft. It is published primarily for purposes of patent review by Workstream Participants; it mirrors the Living Standard closely, redacting only text that is identified as "Objection Pending" or "Confirmation Pending". Developers should refer to the Living Standard for the most current error corrections and other developments.

For information regarding patent commitments, please see the IPR Policy and exclusion notices.

In the text above, "Living Standard" must link to the corresponding Living Standard, "IPR Policy" must link to the WHATWG IPR Policy, and "exclusion notices" must link to a location determined by the Steering Group where patent exclusion notices are posted.

Notice for supporting resources

Living Standards may have supporting resources, in text or binary form, either linked or embedded. Such resources could include stylesheets, images, scripts, video, audio, data tables, JSON files, or any other type of supplemental resource.

For such supporting resources, no separate notice is required. The notices on the Living Standard and in the repository are sufficient.

Notice for Source Code

Source Code published by the WHATWG bears text to be determined by the Steering Group.

Notice for Inanimate Standards

Inanimate Standards published by the WHATWG bear text to be determined on a case-by-case basis by the Steering Group.

Notice for Other Publications

Other Publications published by the WHATWG bear text to be determined by the Steering Group.

Notice for Repositories

The repositories for all WHATWG publications and other deliverables must include the text of the applicable license in a LICENSE file.


The WHATWG is a forum for voluntary development and promotion of standards, specifications, technical requirements, code, best practices, and documentation for the web. No applicant for participation in the WHATWG will be rejected for any anticompetitive purpose, and its participants are free to join and participate freely in competing organizations and to develop and market competing technologies, products, and services. Each participant in the WHATWG is responsible for its compliance with all applicable laws, including antitrust and competition laws and regulations, and must rely on independent legal counsel (and not any policy of the WHATWG) regarding compliance. While participating in WHATWG activities, WHATWG participants should not discuss any competitively sensitive, strategic commercial information in a way that would be contrary to applicable competition laws. For example, such information may include confidential, competitively sensitive information about business strategies, plans, or data regarding sales, pricing, market share, marketing plans, business plans, and strategic initiatives.

Copyright © 2018 WHATWG (Apple, Google, Mozilla, Microsoft). This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.