W3C

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W3Clogo.png
Type: SDO Non-for-profit
Industry: Web Technologies
Founded: 1994
Ownership: Jointly by MIT, ERCIM, Keio University, Beihang University
Headquarters: W3C/MIT 32 Vassar Street
Room 32-386
Cambridge, MA 02139
Country: USA, EU, JP, CN
Businesses: Web standardization
Products: Web Standards and Tools
Employees: <100
Revenue: ~10M$ = expenses
Website: w3.org
Twitter: TwitterIcon.png@w3c
Key People
Tim Berners-Lee, Director

Jeffrey Jaffe, CEO

Daniel Dardailler, Head of Liaisons

Coralie Mercier, Head of Communications

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international community where web standards are developed by a hired staff that works together with member organizations and the public. [1]

Overview

The W3C was founded in 1994 by Tim Berners-Lee. Its mission is to develop protocols and guidelines for the long-term growth of the Web, in order to bring out its fullest potential. The W3C facilitates participation, involvement, sharing knowledge, and building trust at a global level. It enjoys the support of many important industries and organizations. See the Membership list.

W3C Standards

First started as an IETF application area at the beginning of 1990, the Web standard stack, given its foreseen volume and applicative nature on top of the Internet protocols, quickly spun off its own forum. The W3C then laid the foundations of the Web with the development of HTML 4 and XML at the end of the last century. It still works closely with IETF today, on the HTTP or URL specifications and in other areas of common interest (e.g. crypto, security, video).

Other well known technologies developed by W3C include the WAI/WCAG guidelines for people with disabilities (largely adopted by governments and an ISO standard as well), the Web Services stack or the Semantic Web/Linked Data activities.

Since its creation, W3C has developed more than 350 Web Standards, which they refer to as "Recommendations." Each recommendation was developed by working groups which consist of W3C members engineers and invited experts from the public who have experience in the applicable field.

A recommendation is steered by a Working Group, and must pass through the several steps (also called maturity levels):

  • Typically a series of Working Drafts are published, accessible to all, each of which refines a document under development
  • Once review suggests the Working Group has met their requirements satisfactorily for a new standard, there is a Candidate Recommendation phase. This allows the W3C membership to provide feedback on whether the specification is appropriate as a W3C Recommendation, while the Working Group formally collects implementation experience to demonstrate that the specification works in practice.
  • The next phase is a Proposed Recommendation, to finalize the review of W3C Members. If the Director determines that W3C member review supports a specification becoming a standard, W3C publishes it as a Recommendation.

W3C Organization

W3C does not have a typical organizational structure, nor is it incorporated.

In administrative terms: W3C is administered via a joint agreement among these four "Host Institutions": MIT (USA), ERCIM (France/EU), Keio University (Japan), and Beihang University (China). The W3C staff (many of whom work physically at one of these institutions) is led by a Director, Tim Berners-Lee, and a CEO. A small management team is responsible for resource allocation and strategic planning on behalf of the staff. Regional offices play an important role in W3C being an international organization.

In process terms: the W3C Process Document and a few others documents establish the roles and responsibilities of the parties involved in the making of W3C standards. Some key components of the organization are:

  • the Advisory Committee, composed of one representative from each W3C Member.
  • the Advisory Board (AB), an advisory body elected by the Advisory Committee
  • the Technical Architecture Group (TAG), which primarily seeks to document Web Architecture principles
  • the W3C Director and CEO, who assess consensus for W3C-wide decisions
  • the chartered groups, populated by Member representatives and invited experts, and which produce most of W3C's deliverables according to the steps of the W3C Process.

As of 2016, the W3C had 400 members.[2] from various sectors and world regions. In order to be accessible to a wide range of international organizations, W3C offers membership fees on a sliding scale dependent on annual revenue, type of business, and the location of the organization's headquarters.[3]

W3C is in liaisons with most of the other SDOs (Standard Development Organizations) dealing with Digital technologies, to ensure that there is a coherent set of standards to maximize the end-users experience of its Open Web Platform.

References