W3C : World Wide Web Consortium

Last update : June 30, 2014

The W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) is an international community where Member organizations, a full-time staff, and the public work together to develop Web standards. Led by Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee and CEO Jeffrey Jaffe, W3C’s mission is to lead the Web to its full potential.

The W3C Team includes 85 people working from locations across the globe. W3C is hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (MIT/CSAIL) in the United States, at the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM) in Sophia-Antipolis in France, at the Keio University Shonan Fujisawa Campus (SFC) in Japan and at the Beihang University in China.

Most W3C work revolves around the standardization of Web technologies. To accomplish this work, W3C follows processes that promote the development of high-quality standards based on the consensus of the community. The W3C is founding member of OpenStand (The Modern Paradigm for Standards), an open, collective movement to radically improve the way people around the globe develop, deploy and embrace technologies for the benefit of humanity.

W3C standards define an Open Web Platform for application development that has the unprecedented potential to enable developers to build rich interactive experiences, powered by vast data stores, that are available on any device. HTML5 will be the cornerstone for this platform, combined with other technologies including CSS, SVG, WOFF, the Semantic Web stack, XML, Javascript and a variety of APIs.

The W3C standards are grouped as follows :

eGovernment (Better Government Through Better Use of the Web) is also a topic at W3C.

A comprehensive documentation for developers about the Open Web Platform is available at the community-run source Web Platform Docs (currently in alpha version).

W3C standards are written by temporary working groups formed by W3C members and invited experts. Membership in W3C is open to all types of organizations (including commercial, educational and governmental entities) and individuals. For Luxembourg, annual membership fees vary between 1.950 and 68.000 EUR.

Currently there are about 50 working groups listed at the W3C website. There are also special interest groups (forum for the exchange of ideas) and coordination groups (to manage dependencies and facilitates communication with other groups).

W3C has chartered two permanent groups :

  • The Technical Architecture Group (TAG) documents and builds consensus around principles of Web architecture.
  • The Advisory Board (AB) provides ongoing guidance to the Team on issues of strategy, management, legal matters, process, and conflict resolution.

To meet the needs of a growing community of Web stakeholders, W3C has created Community and Business Groups. Community Groups enable anyone to socialize their ideas for the Web at the W3C for possible future standardization. Business Groups provide companies anywhere in the world with access to the expertise and community needed to develop open Web technology. New W3C Working Groups can then build mature Web standards on top of best of the experimental work, and businesses and other organizations can make the most out of W3C’s Open Web Platform in their domain of interest.

Community Groups are designed to promote innovation and to lower barriers to individual participation. Anyone may participate without fees in community groups. Currently there are about 130 community groups. I am mainly interested in the following community groups :

In the past some web communities were created outside of the W3C, with similar goals. One example is the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG) which was founded in 2004 by individuals from Apple, the Mozilla Foundation and Opera Software in response to the slow development of W3C web standards and W3C’s decision to abandon HTML in favor of XML-based technologies. On March 7th, 2007, the W3C publicly announced that they are restarting an HTML specification effort. A W3C HTML working group was created and stated : “The HTML Working Group will actively pursue convergence with WHATWG, encouraging open participation within the bounds of the W3C patent policy and available resources”. (see WHATWG Blog)