World Wide Web Consortium

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World Wide Web Consortium
W3C Icon.svg
Abbreviation W3C
Motto Leading the Web to Its Full Potential
Formation October 1994
Type Standards organization
Purpose/focus Developing protocols and guidelines that ensure long-term growth for the Web.
Headquarters Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.
Location MIT/CSAIL,USA, (Main Office); ERCIM, France; Keio University, Japan; Beihang University, China[1] and many other offices around the world
Region served Worldwide
Membership 379 member organizations[2]
Director Tim Berners-Lee
Staff 62
Website www.w3.org

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is the main international standards organization for the World Wide Web (abbreviated WWW or W3).

Founded and currently led by Tim Berners-Lee,[3] the consortium is made up of member organizations which maintain full-time staff for the purpose of working together in the development of standards for the World Wide Web. As of 7 September 2013, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has 383 members.[2]

W3C also engages in education and outreach, develops software and serves as an open forum for discussion about the Web.

History[edit]

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) was founded by Tim Berners-Lee after he left the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in October, 1994. It was founded at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Laboratory for Computer Science (MIT/LCS) with support from the European Commission and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA),[3] which had pioneered the Internet and its predecessor ARPANET.

W3C tries to enforce compatibility and agreement among industry members in the adoption of new standards defined by the W3C. Incompatible versions of HTML are offered by different vendors, causing inconsistency in how Web pages are displayed. The consortium tries to get all those vendors to implement a set of core principles and components which are chosen by the consortium.

It was originally intended that CERN host the European branch of W3C; however, CERN wished to focus on particle physics, not information technology. In April 1995 the Institut national de recherche en informatique et en automatique (INRIA) became the European host of W3C, with Keio University becoming the Japanese branch in September 1996. Starting in 1997, W3C created regional offices around the world; as of September 2009, it has eighteen World Offices covering Australia, the Benelux countries (Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Belgium), Brazil, China, Finland, Germany, Austria, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, South Korea, Morocco, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom and Ireland.[4]

In January 2003, the European host was transferred from INRIA to the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM), an organization that represents European national computer science laboratories.[citation needed]

In October 2012, W3C convened a community of large Web players and publishers to establish a MediaWiki wiki that seeks to documents open Web standards called WebPlatform and WebPlatform Docs.[5]

Specification Maturation[edit]

Sometimes, when a Specification becomes too large, it is split into independent Modules which can mature at their own pace. Subsequent Editions of a Module or Specification are known as Levels, and are denoted by the first integer in the title (e.g. CSS3 = Level 3). Subsequent Revisions on each Level are denoted by an integer following a decimal point (e.g. CSS2.1 = Revision 1).

The W3C Standard Formation Process is defined within the W3C Process Document, outlining Four Maturity Levels that each new Standard or Recommendation must progress through:[6]

Working Draft (WD)[edit]

After enough content has been gathered from Editor Drafts and discussion, it may be published as a Working Draft for review by the community. A WD document is the first form of a standard that is publicly available. Commentary by virtually anyone is accepted, though no promises are made with regard to action on any particular element of said commentary.[6]

At this stage, the standard document may likely have significant differences from its final form. As such, any who implement WD standards should be ready to significantly modify their implementations as the standard matures.[6]

Candidate Recommendation (CR)[edit]

A candidate recommendation is a version of the standard that is more firm than the WD. At this point, the group responsible for the standard is satisfied that the standard does what is needed of it. The purpose of the CR is to elicit aid from the development community as to how implementable the standard is.[6]

The standard document may change further, but at this point, significant features are mostly locked. The design of those features can still change due to feedback from implementors.[6]

Proposed Recommendation (PR)[edit]

A proposed recommendation is the version of the standard that has passed the prior two levels. The users of said standard have had their say, and the implementors of the standard have likewise had a chance at providing input. At this stage, the document has been submitted to the W3C Advisory Council for final approval.[6]

While this step is important, it rarely causes any significant changes to a standard as it passes to the next phase.[6]

Both Candidates and Proposals may enter "Last Call" to signal that any further feedback must be provided expeditiously.

W3C Recommendation (REC)[edit]

This is the most mature stage of development. At this point, the standard has undergone extensive review and testing, under both theoretical and practical conditions. The standard is now endorsed by the W3C as a standard, indicating its readiness for deployment within its problem domain, and encouraging more widespread support among implementors and authors.[6]

Recommendations can sometimes be implemented incorrectly, partially, or not at all, but many standards define two or more levels of conformance that developers must follow if they wish to label their product as W3C-compliant.[6]

Later Revisions (WD)(NOTES)[edit]

A Recommendation may be updated or extended by separately-published, non-technical Errata or Editor Drafts until enough substantial edits accumulate for producing a new edition or level of the Recommendation. Additionally, the W3C publishes various kinds of informative Notes which are to be used as a reference.[6]

Certification[edit]

Unlike the ISOC and other international standards bodies, the W3C does not have a certification program. The W3C has decided, for now, that it is not suitable to start such a program owing to the risk of creating more drawbacks for the community than benefits.[6]

Administration[edit]

The Consortium is jointly administered by the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL, located in Stata Center[7]) in the USA, the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM) (in Sophia Antipolis, France), Keio University (in Japan) and Beihang University (in China). The W3C also has World Offices in sixteen regions around the world. The W3C Offices work with their regional Web communities to promote W3C technologies in local languages, broaden W3C's geographical base, and encourage international participation in W3C Activities.

W3C has a relatively small staff team, around 50–60 worldwide recently (as of 2010).[8] The CEO of W3C as of Dec. 2010 is Jeffrey Jaffe,[9] former CTO of Novell. The majority of standardization work is done by external experts in W3C's various working groups.

Membership[edit]

The domain w3.org attracted at least 11 million visitors annually by 2008 according to a Compete.com study.[10]

The Consortium is governed by its membership. The list of members is available to the public.[2] Members include businesses, nonprofit organizations, universities, governmental entities, and individuals.[11]

Membership requirements are transparent except for one requirement. An application for membership must be reviewed and approved by W3C. Many guidelines and requirements are stated in detail, but there is no final guideline about the process or standards by which membership might be finally approved or denied.[12]

The cost of membership is given on a sliding scale, depending on the character of the organization applying and the country in which it is located.[13] Countries are categorized by the World Bank's most recent grouping by GNI ("Gross National Income") per capita.[14]

Criticism[edit]

The W3C has been criticized as being dominated by larger organizations and thus writing standards that represent their interests. For example, a member of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (WCAG WG)[15] complained that:

The process is stacked in favour of multinationals with expense accounts who can afford to talk on the phone for two hours a week and jet to world capitals for meetings.[16]

A similar criticism, responding to large software company complaints about the slow pace of W3C's formulation of XML/web services standards, appeared in Cnet's news.com in 2002:

"I'm not convinced that developers are too bothered," said Edd Dumbill, editor of XML.com, who has worked as a software developer on Web services. "I think developers are being poorly served by the fact that the big companies have dominated the work of the W3C over the last year. The W3C does more or less what its members tell it to. So I don't have a huge amount of sympathy for the complaints of large companies."[17]

In 2012 and 2013, W3C started considering adding DRM-specific Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) to HTML5, which was criticised as being against the openness, interoperability and vendor-neutrality that distinguished websites built using only W3C standards from those requiring proprietary plug-ins like Flash.[18][19][20][21][22] In January 2014, MPAA, which in 2011 supported SOPA, joined the W3C.[23]

Standards[edit]

W3C/IETF Standards (over Internet protocol suite):

References[edit]

  1. ^ "W3C Invites Chinese Web Developers, Industry, Academia to Assume Greater Role in Global Web Innovation". W3.org. 2013-01-20. Retrieved 2013-11-30. 
  2. ^ a b c "World Wide Web Consortium – current Members". World Wide Web Consortium. 29 March 2012. Retrieved 29 October 2012. 
  3. ^ a b W3C (September 2009). "World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) About the Consortium". Retrieved 8 September 2009. 
  4. ^ Jacobs, Ian (June 2009). "W3C Offices". Retrieved 14 September 2009. 
  5. ^ "WebPlatform Stewards". .webplatform.org. Retrieved 2012-10-08. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "World Wide Web Consortium | Development Process". W3.org. 2005-04-12. Retrieved 2012-04-03. 
  7. ^ USA (2006-10-31). "W3C Contact". W3.org. Retrieved 2012-04-03. 
  8. ^ "W3C people list". W3.org. Retrieved 2012-04-03. 
  9. ^ "W3C pulls former Novell CTO for CEO spot". Itworld.com. 2010-03-08. Retrieved 2012-04-03. 
  10. ^ "W3C attracts 11m visitors online yearly". Siteanalytics.compete.com. Retrieved 3 July 2010. 
  11. ^ W3C (2010). "Membership FAQ – W3C". Retrieved 7 August 2010. 
  12. ^ Jacobs, Ian (2008). "Join W3C". Retrieved 14 September 2008. 
  13. ^ W3C Membership Fee Calculator
  14. ^ "World Bank Country Classification". Web.worldbank.org. Retrieved 3 July 2010. 
  15. ^ "WCAG website". W3.org. Retrieved 3 July 2010. 
  16. ^ Clark, Joe. "Joe Clark writing in 'A List Apart'". Alistapart.com. Retrieved 3 July 2010. 
  17. ^ Festa, Paul. "Critics clamor for Web services standards – CNET". News.com. Retrieved 3 July 2010. 
  18. ^ Cory Doctorow (2013-03-12). "What I wish Tim Berners-Lee understood about DRM". Technology blog at guardian.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2013-04-06. Retrieved 2013-03-20. 
  19. ^ Glyn Moody (2013-02-13). "BBC Attacks the Open Web, GNU/Linux in Danger". Open Enterprise blog at ComputerworldUK.com. Archived from the original on 2013-04-06. Retrieved 2013-03-20. 
  20. ^ Scott Gilbertson (2013-02-12). "DRM for the Web? Say It Ain’t So". Webmonkey. Condé Nast. Archived from the original on 2013-04-06. Retrieved 2013-03-21. 
  21. ^ "Tell W3C: We don't want the Hollyweb". Defective by Design. Free Software Foundation. March 2013. Archived from the original on 2013-04-06. Retrieved 2013-03-25. 
  22. ^ Danny O'Brien (October 2013). "Lowering Your Standards: DRM and the Future of the W3C". Electronic Frontier Foundation. Retrieved 2013-10-03. 
  23. ^ Mike Masnick (2014-01-07). "Not Cool: MPAA Joins The W3C". Techdirt. Retrieved 2014-01-18. 

External links[edit]