back to article Go away, kid, you bother me: Apple, Google, Microsoft, Mozilla kick W3C nerds to the curb

The organization that tries to advance web technology standards – the World Wide Web Consortium or W3C – has run into a roadblock: Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla. Earlier this week, the four major browser makers expressed dissatisfaction with the W3C's DOM 4.1 specification, which defines a variety of new capabilities …

W3C dead?

Isn't the W3C dead now? Google and friends are the boss of all web standards in the future?

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Re: W3C dead?

"Google and friends are the boss of all web standards in the future?"

They have been for a long time. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

After seeing what emerged for the HTML5 spec, I'm not entirely sure that WHATWG could do much worse.

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Re: W3C dead?

They were maintaining a pretense of propriety, in a similar way as the applicable IETF groups. Nothing is decided in the standards body, everything is decided in a backroom deal. Example - the whole mpeg/H263 affair in IETF.

It is cartel behavior just by another name. Theoretically some of these issues can and should be a competition/cartel issue. Though usually there is nobody surviving to complain.

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Re: W3C dead?

After seeing what emerged for the HTML5 spec, I'm not entirely sure that WHATWG could do much worse.

Because HTML 1-4 were soooo good in the first place.

In an ideal world someone would take pretty much everyone who had a hand in 95% of the "standards" out there around the back of the cow shed and have them shot. Apple engineers can go to the front of the queue for the utterly irrational, half-arsed, and frankly annoying effort they called HLS. (Which I haven't been dealing with on a daily basis for the last year, honest.)

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Re: W3C dead?

"Because HTML 1-4 were soooo good in the first place."

They did have the major advantage of not supporting irritating videos.

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Unhappy

Re: W3C dead?

just don't make me STREAM _AND_ WATCH ad videos, or pop CLICK-THROUGH SCHTUFF up into my FACE when I visit a web site... even with HTML 5 and no scripting!

it might not be too late for that...

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Angel

Mandatory XKCD

https://m.xkcd.com/927/

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Thumb Up

Re: Mandatory XKCD

Ha! Knew someone would pull out this one. It really is one of his best!

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Boffin

Fine, you're so smart, you rig up the lights!

Typical committee rabble. Everyone needs a say, but the do'ers end up being the marginalized commodity.

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Windows

What haven't they done to W3C

Microsoft were once members and stymied the organisation in its Internet battle drama with Netscape.

Billions of users everywhere and not enough to build a great Internet.

The internet reality is here today gone tomorrow.

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Anyone know what the central technical difference between the two DOM forks is?

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Anonymous Coward

>Anyone know what the central technical difference between the two DOM forks is?

Utility.

Anyone can contribute to WHATWG based solely on merit - W3C WGs are increasingly closed geologically paced bureaucratic vanity fest circle jerks signifying nothing.

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Well it's not just merit. WHATWG is just the browser makers who want to make life easier for themselves. Hence bothersome stiff like accessibility is given a lower priority.

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From a practical point of view, if you are writing web pages, the only relevant standard is WHATWG. Browsers implement WHATWG, not whatever the W3C dreams up.

As mentioned in the article, neither standards body is exactly a representative of the "little guy". WHATWG is dominated by $BIGCORPS and so is W3C. The difference is that the $BIGCORPS in WHATWG are the ones who actually control the browsers, the $BIGCORPS in W3C just wish they did.

At least the fact that the actual browser makers co-operate in WHATWG means that it becomes possible to write cross-browser webpages.

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Several responses, none of which actually address the question... What is the *technical* difference between the proposals?!

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filioque

https://www.w3.org/wiki/HTML/W3C-WHATWG-Differences

I'd say extremely minor stuff. The real differences are procedural (Living Standard vs numbered releases) and political (DRM).

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Anonymous Coward

Have a down vote for ignoring the question.

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Anonymous Coward

>Hence bothersome stiff like accessibility is given a lower priority.

Oh please..... WAI is a particularly awful example of exclusive, anachronistic and Vogonesque practice. It's been telling disabled people how they are supposed to be using the web going on 30 years - every study which user tested against a representative demographic sample (and WAI itself has never ever done this) has found their standards (content/agents) next to useless for the majority.

....and each time this fundamental fail comes up WAI blame a lack of effort and understanding by disabled users rather than a failure to implement the most basic principles of equal access - ie that it shouldn't be more difficult or more expensive.

W3C/WAI has lobbied to get its guidance (browsers and content) written into law as the minimum statutory requirements - which is ultimately why 21st century web is less accessible than 1930's radio. The test isn't whether disabled people can access content, but whether content and agent comply with standards which themselves are inaccessible to and unrepresentative of disabled people.

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The central technical difference is no browser is going to implement DOM4.1

Google's Formal Objection briefly mentions some differences:

"In its current state, Chrome will not implement the DOM4.1 spec, and is not aware of any other browser engine that will do so. There are considerable differences between the W3C DOM 4.1 and WHATWG DOM Living Standard (including but not limited to: use of invalid Web IDL, event dispatch, shadow DOM integration, custom elements integration, ranges, and tree traversal), which is what Chrome implements."

https://github.com/w3c/dom/issues/177

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Yet, what does WHATWG have to replace the accessibility standards from W3G?

a) Something worse or b) Nothing.

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Yet, what does WHATWG have to replace the accessibility standards from W3G?

In a sense it obviates them by making accessibility a part of usability. For example, the nav-tag does not need and should not have the ARIA role "navigation". See http://adrianroselli.com/2017/10/dont-use-aria-menu-roles-for-site-nav.html for an interesting discussion.

The fundamental difference is that WHATWG tries to formalise working code and encourages expert input in the development of the process, whereas the W3C formalises first and expects the pixies to do the implementation. With regard to ARIA the W3C has created an industry of consultants in the area, most of whom have no real idea what accessibility is.

Capture by special interests is a risk of both approaches but the WHATWG has by far the better track record.

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Trollface

"The test isn't whether disabled people can access content, but whether content and agent comply with standards which themselves are inaccessible to and unrepresentative of disabled people"

Using tiny grey text on bright white background should be PUNISHABLE by DEATH!

That, and ads that have moving content. or use script. or track me.

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Unhappy

bombastic bob: Using tiny light grey text on bright white background should be PUNISHABLE by DEATH!

There, fixed it for ya. Otherwise you are correct.

Almost every website does this light grey on white thing now. What is wrong with black on light gray. Light gray being close to the print shade on this site.

I am also noticing that dead tree, print material is doing this now.

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Anonymous Coward

Journalism 101

WHAT is the difference between the two proposals ?!

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It's as I feared. Once a cartel gets powerful enough, they can ignore more altruistic standards bodies and dictate their own standards through sheer market power. The next step will probably be for a big one like Facebook to propose an alternative to the Web altogether and start people back into the AOL walled gardens.

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Extremely questionable if W3C is "more altruistic" than WHATWG. And Facebook is a W3C member, not that that means very much.

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Anonymous Coward

Case in point - Google AMP

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"altruistic standards bodies "

There are no "more altruistic standards bodies". You misunderstand the nature of the beast.

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FAIL

Re: "altruistic standards bodies "

There are no "more altruistic standards bodies".

that's not necessarily a BAD thing...

THEIR altruism isn't necessarily MY altruism, nor the kind of altruism that OUGHT to be implemented. If "the rest of us" are HELD BACK because of 'politically correct issue of the day', for example, it's not helping.

I _ALSO_ have to wonder if "the big 4" got together one day to "2D FLATSO" 'teh intarwebs' and got away with it... because right now, there's no significant presence of a BROWSER that doesn't have an Australis-looking UI with a hamburger button instead of a menu, FLATSO elements, and fat-finger-friendliness that can't be taken away. And WEB PAGES that _SHOULD_ have 3D skeumorphic elements _INSTEAD_ of flat-looking BOXES that ACT like they're buttons... FLAT BOXES like the "buttons" labeled 'preview' and 'submit' at the bottom-right of this edit thing [and with font text that is almost UNREADABLE because the FONT is WAY TOO SMALL!]. "Standards" made THAT happen, maybe?

So it would seem to _ME_ that "the big 4" running "the other standard" from the W3C's "Standard" are JUST AS BAD, but in a different way. And I don't believe that ANY of the motives behind these things is helping ANYBODY.

[as for me, I use OLD SCHOOL HTML, rarely use script, and use PNG and JPEG files for buttons so they can retain that nice 3D SKEUOMORPHIC look, instead of being a FLAT BOX that ambiguously "looks like a button". I also deliberately pick text vs background color schemes that are easy on the eyes and high contrast, NOT like grey on white [for example], or light blue on white [even worse, MICRO-SHAFT, _YOU_ do this ALL of the time!]. And the bandwidth requirements are _SMALL_]

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" they can ignore more altruistic standards bodies and dictate their own standards through sheer market power."

Which "more altruistic" standards bodies are being ignored? I don't think the W3C counts as an "altruistic standards body". It's as much a case of corporations dictating standards through corporate power as WHATWG. The only difference is that it involves more corporations, and therefore the standards it comes up with are more problematic.

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Has W3C's management of HTML ever not been a farce? Maybe now no-one's listening to them on that they can go back down the XML rabbit hole and leave the rest of us alone.

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Anyone can sit behind a screen and criticise.

Very few have ability, drive and most importantly TIME to do.

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Has W3C's management of HTML ever not been a farce?

Yes, it was fine for the first few years, then it was captured by the industry and refused to do any development. For a while Microsoft was the biggest culprit because it wanted to extend the web via ActiveX. Frustration at the lack of progress is what led to the developer driven WHATWG, as has been well documented. Once the HTML5 specification was ready, it did look like there would be a rapprochement between the two bodies, but the W3C went back into committee mode so this spat was going to happen over something sooner or later.

The WHATWG doesn't get everything right: vendors do use it to push their worldviews, Apple with I-Phone specific shit but Google has had its own share of stillbirths, but following the software development model of only standardising something for which there are at least two independent implementations has worked well.

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Anonymous Coward

The snipe at DRM by one Working Group rep was interesting. It seems clear W3C has caved to Big Media, and I had assumed the browser makers were along for the ride. But it appears the WG might not be entirely on board, if only for practical engineering reasons (I doubt anyone involved has sincere philosophical reservations -- all the parties have at one time or another demonstrated they have the collective morality of a stack of styrofoam cups.

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O, the browser vendors *are* along for the ride. They have all implemented the Encrypted Media Extensions, the DRM mechanism standardized by the W3C. Hand-wringing of individual WHATWG members notwithstanding.

Note that EME is formally not part of HTML proper (it's an "extension"), so out of scope for the WHATWG.

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An Erotic Exotic Eastern Delight and Wild Wacky Western Treat In a PACT....

.... is a Permanent Advanced Cyber Threat and Delightful Treat to Boot and Root Route.

because there's just no way to simultaneously let someone decrypt content and prevent them from decrypting content, however much you obfuscate the keys.

The Real ProblemsOpportunities Begin whenever they Realise the Source of the Content they would Deny Knowledge and Sight of, and IT Realising the Virtualised Situation with ESPecial Forces Live BetaTesting Quantum Communications Programming Projects ..... Research Dark and Deep into Orders Commanding Control of Live Operational Virtual Environments.

What would you build on any other planet for Man and Womankind, in Order to Create an Alien World in which to Live in the Future and be at Eternal Peace with Everything Surrounding You, rather than as is now in all too many cases, IT being defaulted to only always surviving in the Past with Crumbling Assets and Diminishing Returns on Investments.

You can be Assured and maybe thus also Terrified to Know, SMARTR AI does not support or follow such a Rancid Root ..... thus to ensure a New Core Source to XSSXXXX is AISupply for Deliveries of Pure Pleasures, with the firm favourite, an AdultERated Ride .... A Climactic Mutual Enjoyment of Deep and Dark Private Delights on Pirate Manoeuvres.

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And posed as a genuine question there, for I have no idea nor current accurate information about the present state of MOD CyberIntelAIgent Force Encounters with Immaculate Source Provision.

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Re: An Erotic Exotic Eastern Delight and Wild Wacky Western Treat In a PACT....

@amanfrommars1 - I'd stay off the stripey smarties and see the doc about that nasty case of bit-rot, if I were you...

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Re: An Erotic Exotic Eastern Delight and Wild Wacky Western Treat In a PACT....

@amanfrommars1 - I'd stay off the stripey smarties and see the doc about that nasty case of bit-rot, if I were you... ... Esme

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And if you were to be me, we'd be having a Perfect Whale of a Time Exploring and Enjoying Vast Sees Alone Together.

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More Candy Dreaming there, Esme, or is All of That Sort of Stuff the Real McCoy? With the Promise of Something that will Virtually EMPower Practically Everything Hanging for Harvesting from What is being Revealed to All and Sundry?

You pretty well know enough about everything that we here need to Seed and Feed and Care Dare Share for Future Cropping. And whether 'tis Absolutely Vital and Supplied by A.N.Others are Questions to Ponder On and Wonder about the Wanders then Readily Available for Further Deeper and Darker Exploring to Beautifully Concealed and Fully Serviced Centres of Absolutely Fabulous Light/Greater Universal Understandings.

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Holmes

No shit

Any DRM solution will always be broken, because there's just no way to simultaneously let someone decrypt content and prevent them from decrypting content, however much you obfuscate the keys.

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WTF?

I found Ian Hickson's comment interesting:

' W3C "is an organization supported by large annual fees from large companies, and its primary organizational goal is to ensure these companies remain as paying members."'

Who are these unnamed large companies (which are not Microsoft, Google, Apple, and Mozilla - ok, Mozilla's not that big) that are driving the W3C?

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Taking a quick glance down their membership list, I'm sure I've missed some but the ones that jump to my eye are:

ActiveVideo Networks LLC (Charter)

Association of American Publishers

Book Industry Study Group

BookNet Canada

Cable Television Laboratories Inc

Comcast Corporation

Digital Comic Association

DRM Inside Co Ltd

Elsevier

HarperCollins Publishers

Media Do Co

The Motion Picture Association of America Inc

Movielabs

Netflix

Penguin Random House

Recording Industry Association of America

Sony Corporation

Sport Total AG

The Walt Disney Company

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In particular Netflix has apparently strongly lobbied for EME (Encrypted Media Extensions).

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In particular Netflix has apparently strongly lobbied for EME

Yes, but essentially as a proxy for the content industry which won't license content unless there is a sufficient DRM figleaf. See Bruce Lawson's take on this from 2012-. The irony is that the rights holders still don't understand the technolofgy and are insisting on plugins to implement the DRM despite getting a standard.

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Meh

Who are these unnamed large companies (which are not Microsoft, Google, Apple, and Mozilla - ok, Mozilla's not that big) that are driving the W3C?

someone already suggested Fa[e]cebook...

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Facepalm

"insisting on plugins to implement the DRM"

nobody's heard of reverse-engineering? "security by obscurity" simply raises the bar a bit for someone to break the lock. Personally, I think JUST having an https connection for HTML5, with proper auth cookies (session-type of course, no storing on the hard drive) would be enough. You log in, you get a session cookie, and you can now access the content, using https. Like the way a bank does it. How hard is THAT ???

(yeah "they" want to try and control things beyond that point, well TOO BAD, there are "ways" to pirate everything, and if you simply make streaming and ownership inexpensive and desirable enough, nobody of significance will bother with the piracy)

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Yes, which is why I am no longer a Netflix customer.

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" The irony is that the rights holders still don't understand the technolofgy and are insisting on plugins to implement the DRM despite getting a standard."

The EME standard requires proprietary plugins.

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Sadly, these non-technical management types believe the Sales Account Manager when they tell them their encryption is "military strength and would take someone 8000 years to crack with a super computer."

No sales person is going to tell the CTO that their product is "a bit crap and, in a couple of years, some kid in their bedroom will be able to crack it in less than a weekend using a couple of CUDA graphics cards."

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WHATWG

Sounds like some rather borderline review site.

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