back to article War is over, if you want it: W3C, WHATWG agree to work towards single spec for HTML and DOM

The two warring factions pushing HTML and DOM standards have agreed to down weapons and work together. The World Wide Web Consortium (or W3C) and splinter group the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (more succinctly known as WHATWG) have signed a memorandum of understanding to push for one set of standards for …

  1. TeeCee Gold badge
    Meh

    My guess is that the détente will hold until WHATWG does something that pisses of the advertising industry who hold the W3C by the ballsare important W3C stakeholders.

  2. Roger Greenwood

    With all those TLAs flying around I do hope they set themselves up to meet at the Web Touchstone Forum.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I swear to the great Sky Father. I looked up TLA to see what it meant. I'm going home.

      1. STOP_FORTH
        Happy

        Not a joke

        If you have ever published an FAQ document or webpage you soon find out the the most frequently asked question is "What does FAQ stand for?". I'd like to think that this question always comes from people taking the mickey, but I suspect it doesn't.

        Last millennium, before WWW was a thing I worked at a place that used to send printed publications around the internal mail system. There was a piece of paper with a typed list of names on it. (From memory, a typewriter was a sort of printer attached to a monkey. I may have some of the detail wrong.) When had received the item and read it, you crossed your name off the list and sent it on to the next person (or put it on their desk).

        The list was a bit like a stack in that the second last set of initials on the list would usually be the last person added. Last person added would often be new to the place. Last set of initials was often the fabled WPB. Depending on how mischievous people were, it could take awhile to find out who WPB was.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Don't be so cynical....

          Don't be so cynical....

          1980's a typewriter was a sort of printer attached to a beautiful & sexy secretary...

          2000's a typewriter was a sort of printer attached to a operator of non specific gender or sexuality

          There FIFY.

          1. STOP_FORTH
            Headmaster

            Re: Don't be so cynical....

            Cynical, moi? Large enough groups of these things can produce the complete works of Shakespeare!

        2. jonathan keith Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Not a joke

          I assume that WPB is AKA TRF*?

          * The Round File

          1. JimmyPage
            Joke

            Re: Not a joke

            "Who is Round, and to what do they object ?"

            as Sir Humphry noted on a memo that Hacker had written a posher form of "bollocks" on ....

          2. STOP_FORTH

            Re: Not a joke

            Yes, AKA TCF - The Circular Filing-cabinet.

        3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Not a joke

          "From memory, a typewriter was a sort of printer attached to a monkey."

          The monkey might well have had the disposition of an angry gorilla.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Not a joke

            These monkeys?

  3. Chris 69

    Why not save the planet at the same time?

    Obviously we owe a huge debt to the people who invented this stuff the first time around, BUT....

    Nobody realised that there would soon be billions of computers involved in creating HTML, passing it around and interpreting it at the other end.

    Surely now we all need to be considerate of the environmental impact of so much unnecessary processing in terms of electricity consumption and hardware waste.

    (and yes Shirley, I mean you too)

    It's not difficult to imagine an HTML replacement that is much more concise and significantly simpler to process. Same goes for HTTP headers, XML etc etc. (I shudder to imagine how many billions of tons of CO2 have been released by the algorithm to convert just the HTTP date header from human readable to numeric..)

    AND it offers the chance to design out all the duplication, ambiguity, hacks and backward compatibility that plagues the existing specifications. Believe me, aggressive simplification is an addictive game and it's amazing how many other areas of IT development can benefit from it (don't get me started on that rant!)

    Yes, the migration will be painful, but we can no longer hide behind "difficult" to avoid making changes to save the planet.

    Anyway, it cant be more difficult than the migration from fossil fuels.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why not save the planet at the same time?

      All you need do, at least in the UK, is convince the authorities that without the Web, there'd be no Kodi, and then the establishment would be shutting down all the appropriate hashtags straight away (well, once they'd all finished preening themselves ready for the Tory leadershit competition).

    2. Chris 69

      Re: Why not save the planet at the same time?

      Dear downvoters.... I'd love to hear your reasons. Thanks for reading anyway.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Why not save the planet at the same time?

        A long time ago I worked for a branch of a business that printed out its own invoices & things. Then there was an instruction from on high that all this sort of thing must be printed by some behemoth printer in a corporate data centre with which we otherwise had nothing to do. The corporate data centre had its own ideas about what the data it was to receive looked like irrespective of whether it fitted out requirements.

        Somewhat less long ago I worked for a business that received and transmitted data via EDI irrespective of whether what was needed was a good fit with EDI message formats. If there were good tools for parsing EDI messages I never found them.

        A little later I worked on a couple of projects which used XML. XML came with all the tools to transform one schema into another or even into non-XML formats. We could have our own private schema and not duly worry about what the customers' schemata were, all we had to do was knock up new style-sheets to transform them into what we wanted. By comparison with what had gone before it was like having a big light switched on. So no, I won't support your comments about XML.

        1. cantankerous swineherd

          Re: Why not save the planet at the same time?

          use xml and get a free parser for your dtd. always found xslt a real grind personally though.

      2. Libertarian Voice

        Re: Why not save the planet at the same time?

        You base your whole argument on the false premise that anthropogenic co2 can drive climate or is in other ways harmful to the planet; it is not.

        The insulation properties of co2 are so low that it cannot possibly drive climate because its addition to the atmosphere causes global greening (healthier plants). As these plants are much more heathy they decay less and subsequently produce less methane.

        Methane has insulation properties 12 times greater than co2 therefore there is no way that co2 can drive climate.

        The amount of meat we eat on the other hand, and general over population are without doubt a serious problem, but not co2.

        If you want to save the planet then the greatest contribution you can make is not to have children.

    3. The Cowboy Online

      Re: Why not save the planet at the same time?

      I agree, all this layering of technologies on top of HTTP feels wrong at a conceptual level. Perhaps we need a new protocol, APP, and engineer that from the ground up to be a distributed app / client / server environment without all the layered mess and complexity of the current approach.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Why not save the planet at the same time?

        Perhaps we need a new protocol, APP, and engineer that from the ground up to be a distributed app / client / server environment without all the layered mess and complexity of the current approach.

        This has been done So. Many. Times.

        Eternal September is eternal.

    4. Charlie Clark Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Why not save the planet at the same time?

      FWIW http/2 already has binary headers.

      HTML, which is derived from SGML and not XML isn't particularly efficient, especially not for large documents but processing it doesn't take that much hardware either. The inflection point was around 2000 when replacements like WAP and NTT's I-Mode were being touted as potential replacements. But even mobile phone CPUs soon got good enough to parse HTML.

      But it's not the parsing that's the problem.

      Ironically, it was the success of the mobile web that encouraged to developers to try and "appify" their websites and it's the dynamism and manipulation of the DOM that chews cycles. Though this is all still tiny in comparison with shit like cryptocurrency.

      As for backwards compatibility: this is generally considered to be essential for internet protocols, which is why we still have TCP, Telnet and SMTP. There are odd exceptions such as dropping support for Microsoft's older and poorly maintained browsers, but by and large HTML5 has succeeeded in moving sites to more semantic and efficient markup.

      1. Chris 69

        Re: Why not save the planet at the same time?

        I agree that parsing isn't necessarily the biggest problem.. but my point is that small efficiency changes have large ecological impact simply because of the numbers involved. If we could save just a few percent its still a shit load of fossil fuel.

        Agree banning cryptocurrency would be a good move too!

        As for backward compatibility... I didn't suggest removing the existing stuff, merely that it be allowed to die gracefully like Flash, Applets, Silverlight, Gopher, etc etc etc. i.e. Design a better thing from the ground up and not try and morph the old stuff into an even bigger compromise.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Why not save the planet at the same time?

          The migration is constant: from table-based layout to CSS; from XML for data to JSON; … But human readable markup has advantages for longevity both of the documents and the technology.

          In terms of energy use you're making false assumptions and equivalents. It is the web's open and reliable technologies that have made so successful and universal – really it touches billions of people. Yes, there is a lot of electricity used to power phones and networks but this is still tiny in comparison with industry.

          If I could change one thing in the world today to reduce energy use, it would be to make online shopping more expensive because it is the physical infrastructure behind all those individual deliveries that really uses resources.

          1. STOP_FORTH

            Moving atoms around

            I have no doubt that huge infrastrucures are being developed to enable online shopping. I can't say that I have any idea whether they are more wasteful than what they are replacing.

            Stuff is moved from factories to wholesalers, warehouses and shops. People go to shops and take stuff home with them.

            OR

            Stuff is moved from factories to wholesalers, warehouses or direct to home.

            Does anyone have any idea which one involves moving the most mass around the planet?

          2. Handle123456

            Re: Why not save the planet at the same time?

            What makes you think offline shopping uses any less? Keep in mind that with offline shopping you've got MORE stuff stacked in stores, more stuff not sold and therefore moved elsehere and possibly recycled/destroyed ...

            The only time online shopping uses more resources is if people constantly order stuff only to look at it and send it back.

      2. illuminatus

        Re: Why not save the planet at the same time?

        The chronology is an issue there. HTML existed before XML, and indeed XHTML was the attempt to make the parsing of messy awkward HTML with its SGML roots much more sleek and amenable to machine processing when the early talk was about how useful this would be for semantic web applications.. The problem was that the tools to write that lovely efficient XHTML were not that great, and people were used to the loose parsing and tolerance of browser engines which are, after all, just HTML interpreters. From a programming point of view these are known issues. We've tried the XHTML route, and frankly, it didn't work out that well. The finnicky syntax (especially case rules and attributes) were not that friendly for those writing. Part of the reason the web took off was because the syntax was so sloppy. It is easy to write. Easy to write badly too, obviously, but easy to get some thing working.

        Now of course few popped hand write HTL anymore, so doing it programmatically seems so much easier. At just the time HTML5 finally emerged.

      3. david 12

        Re: Why not save the planet at the same time?

        ?? generally considered to be essential ??

        This must be some new, improved, not backwards compatible meaning of "backwards compatible". Many sites are not available in HTTP: many of the sites that are available in HTTP are not available without javascript: many of the sites that require javascript are only available with recent versions.

        The simple fact is that the new WWW is not backward compatible. You may characterize this as "dropping support for Microsoft's older" and FF's older, and Opera's older, and Safari's older browsers: and you'd be correct: it's not backwards compatible.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why not save the planet at the same time?

        More semantic? WTF is semantic about a billion div tags all with their own guid as an id attribute?

        WHATWG undid all the work that had been done moving towards a more semantic world. We should be using xml and namespaces, instead we have a steaming pile of random custom attributes providing now direct information about what they represent.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Why not save the planet at the same time?

          I find the attitude of many WHATWG members annoying, and I dislike the "living standard" concept; but WHATWG did add a bunch of semantic tags to HTML5, such as header, footer, and section.

        2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Why not save the planet at the same time?

          WHATWG undid all the work that had been done moving towards a more semantic world.

          Bollocks. WHATWG drew on the work done by Opera in the MAMA project to propose tags such as nav, article, header to replace all the divs using similar ids.

          XML was an attempt to solve the data transfer problem that was then used by unscrupulous vendors to propose a self-describing semantic utopia. It required lots of tooling and never arrived. Other, more efficient but still human-readable formats such as JSON have replaced it on the web and in binary form wherever possible.

    5. steelpillow Silver badge

      Re: Why not save the planet at the same time?

      The big loads on the client browser are downloading all the embedded/cross-site crapware and speculative links, and building the DOM. It would probably be a lot more efficient to serve the binary DOM (or update thereto) and feed it direct to the rendering engine. If compiling happened at source it would save a lot of CO2.

      And if HTML, SVG, MathML, CSS and javascript were all rewritten as dialects of a single scripting language that might speed up the compilation too.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Why not save the planet at the same time?

        And if HTML, SVG, MathML, CSS and javascript were all rewritten as dialects of a single scripting language…

        That would have to be something like LISP. There were attempts to try and use XML for everything and it turned out to be a nightmare. Yes, you can program and in XLST, and I know at least one person who likes it, but it's not really what XML was developed for which was essentially a standard approach to marking up data structrures.

        Both HTML and CSS had different geneses and I think someone even wrote a thesis about CSS at the time.

    6. Mellipop

      Re: Why not save the planet at the same time?

      I agree. HTML and the DOM are legacy artefacts that should now be allowed to die. They are holding back another step change in society's adoption of technology. It's like high priests of the SQL monsters have done all they can to block enterprise adoption of simpler and more efficient data storage and retrieval systems.

      YAML is better than XML (an exercise left to the student, but it's to do with functional decomposition), but let's not stop there. Scene description languages will allow us to describe all audio-visual actions from static pages to full motion immersive three dimensional imagery suitable for Augmented Reality displays.

      Even if we get the specifications wrong the first six or so times we can fudge it with edge code. We have web assembly that provides an order of magnitude improvement in client processing performance. Why allow a pedestrian interpretation of a simplistic marks on a page description language to bind us?

      Drop HTML, drop CSS, XSL, and most important drop any pretense that we live in a two dimensional world.

    7. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Why not save the planet at the same time?

      I haven't attempted to do any calculations, but I'm willing to bet that the costs of processing HTTP and HTML are orders of magnitude less than those of processing all the images web pages are festooned with, often scaled by every single client because the site developer couldn't be bothered to scale the source images.

      And those will be many orders of magnitude less than the costs of running all the damn scripts.

      For many pages, the cycles burned by HTTPS crypto dwarf what was used to generate the actual requests and responses. Should we get rid of that?

      And, of course, there are other uses of IT which consume a hell of a lot more resources than traditional web activity does. You're optimizing the wrong target.

      And even with false economies aside, there have been various proposals and attempts to replace HTTP and HTML over the years. Hyper-G was an HTTP replacement that offered bidirectional linking, for example. BEEP tried to serve as the one-protocol-for-all that HTTP became. Any number of sophomores have proposed tokenized HTML variants, only to have it pointed out to them that all significant servers and user agents support HTTP compression, if that's what you want. (And, of course, we had various attempts at TLS compression, which were a disaster.)

      These things don't catch on because the effort of replacing HTTP and HTML would be enormous, and would need a similarly enormous reward to be justifiable.

      As it is, HTTP/2 is a very substantial change from HTTP/1.1, and largely designed to reduce the consumption of various resources. HTTP/3 will go further. I'm not fond of HTTP/2 and HTTP/3 myself, because they make my job more difficult with little return for my use cases, but for organizations that serve a lot of content they make sense.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Why not save the planet at the same time?

        but I'm willing to bet that the costs of processing HTTP and HTML are orders of magnitude less than those of processing all the images web pages are festooned with

        Processing is a bit vague but certainly the bandwidth required to transmit images is significantly higher than most of the pages their contained in and bandwidth does map 1:1 to power consumption, particularly on mobile devices. But this all pales in comparison to video in terms both of traffic and encoding/decoding.

    8. Lomax
      Thumb Up

      Re: Why not save the planet at the same time?

      CPU hogging web pages have been a problem for a long time, but it's usually JavaScript or embedded media that's the culprit. HTML needs to be seriously messed up to bother a modern-ish CPU. I eventually got tired of waiting for a faster web and installed an add-on which speeds up web browsing 100-fold, and which might well save the planet - or at least your lap - from overheating:

      https://noscript.net

  4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "a single Living Standard."

    Translation: Obsolete before the ink's dried.

    1. FrogsAndChips

      We already know how this is going to end, don't we?

    2. Notas Badoff

      a single Living Standard...

      somehow that ends up with me living in dread

      1. steelpillow Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: a single Living Standard...

        Never realised that DOM stood for Dev Ops Markup

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: a single Living Standard...

        There already is one. It's been in force since maybe forever. The sciences are the interpreters that try to convert it to human readable form.

  5. Sulphurcocky1
    Meh

    Meh

    Well 1/10 ain't bad - now all we need is for tech corporations and web meisters to implement the output of these two.

    I tried years ago to use Mobile HTML5 and half the phones browsers ignored chunks, and while I thought Grid was good it did a little too much, and I would have loved frames to get some boost such as "dual links" the form loading from same server as primary frame with one click to load image & description or chapter & content index etc.

    the pain of finding correspondence in browsers just wore me down and I gave up.

    The other problem is that too many web meisters use Java to give their work some uniqueness so they can price it accordingly , they do it with Java instead of HTML5 etc.

  6. gnarlymarley

    who ever heard of WHATWG?

    oh, interesting. There was a war? Who heard of WHATWG? Wow, over 15 years old. I wonder how I missed that new standard attempt!!!

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