Jan 18, 2012

How do you deal with the different HTML standards set by WHATWG and W3C?

With two different standard setting bodies, HTML is not a single consistent version as once envisioned. There is less and less consistency, and different browsers implement HTML5 as they see fit, making it harder for developers to achieve consistent performance across the board, especially with IE thrown into the mix, at least in my experience. What, if anything, is the solution to this issue?


HTML is a constantly evolving set of features, and use of the individual features depends on which version of which browser.  In a way, the difference variations of HTML take a back seat to the different browsers.  The browsers essentially "decides" how to implement HTML, with Chrome being the best and IE the worst, generally.  The result of this, essentially, is that the different standards of HTML is a non-issue to most users, it all boils down to how the browser utilizes it.  Thus, the browser in essence drives the implementation of HTML, not the other way around.  Prior to app development that utilizes a HTML feature, one should look at how uniformly browser support of the feature.  No one wants to develop an app that doesn't work on the majority of browsers just because you want to utilize a cool feature.  Unfortunately, this often means development to the lowest common denominator (cough, cough....Internet Explorer) simply because of market share.  It is an imperfect world that we live in.  

Over the long haul, stricter standards are probably the only thing that might help. That's not an easy thing to achieve though. It's sort of like herding cats to get the browser developers to adhere to them.

Unfortunately, I think we'll have the current situation for a long, long time. Browser developers don't seem too concerned about bending or departing from standards; especially if they think it will give them an advantage over other browsers.

This is not good, obviously. It puts site developers and users squarely in the middle of browser developer competition. Usually that competition can be a good thing, but not if it means departing from established standards.

Perhaps only strong pressure from users will be the only thing that will capture the attention of browser developers. Maybe if enough users switched to the browser with the strictest adherence to standards, the other browsers might follow suit.
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