W3C Document Formats Domain International

Internationalization Activity Proposal

Approved and annouced on 5 September 2002

1. Summary

In February of this year, many W3C member organizations and invited experts participated in our Workshop on Internationalization, demonstrating the increased importance of internationalization to global commerce, communication, and understanding. Our Internationalization Activity is critical to our long-term goal of Universal Access. Following Section 3.1 of the Process Document, this is a proposal to modify and extend the Internationalization Activity.

To enable the I18N WG to continue its work, and given that the importance of Internationalization is increasing, this Activity Proposal suggests to recharter the Internationalization Working Group (I18N WG) until August 2004, and to extend the duration of the Internationalization Activity accordingly.

To strengthen its I18N efforts, the W3C has opened a second team position on internationalization a while ago, and has recently filled it with a very qualified candidate. In parallel with this, we propose to create three task forces in the Internationalization Working Group: A core task force finalizing the Character Model and continuing review work, a Web Services task force producing use cases and a requirements document in the area of Web Services internationalization, and a task force dedicated to guidelines, education, and outreach (GEO).

When additional Recommendation track work is started, the relevant Activity/WG Charter changes will be submitted to the W3C Advisory Committee for review.

2. Context

2.1 Concepts

Internationalization in the context of information technology means enabling the use of a technology with any language, script, and culture. Localization means the actual configuration of technology or content to a particular language and culture. A script is a set of characters that are used together and have a similar appearance. [Examples: the Latin script is used to write English, Latin, French, Hawai'ian, and many other languages. The Cyrillic script is used to write Russian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, and other languages. The Arabic script is used to write Arabic, Urdu, Persian, and other languages. The Hebrew script is used to write Hebrew, Yiddish, and some other languages.]

2.2 Business Relevance

Successful businesses have understood for a long time that to reach customers, they must speak their languages and adapt to their cultures. The most cost-effective way to accomplish this is to implement, from the start, flexible technologies that most easily support the exchange of information for the languages and cultures of both current and potential customers.

2.3 History

Starting with its name, the World Wide Web was intended as a world-wide technology from the very beginning. However, initially there was quite some gap between intent on the one hand and specifications and implementations on the other hand. Over the past few years, this gap has been closed to a large extent for specifications, and somewhat less for implementations. The working mode for internationalization has changed over the years. Originally, special 'internationalized' versions of a specification (example: RFC 2070 for HTML) had to be written. Currently, specifications produced in W3C are reviewed to make sure they are appropriately internationalized. It is important that this effort continues.

The World Wide Web, and the use of W3C technology, continues to grow rapidly, in particular in areas of the world where it is less used currently. For example, it is expected that soon, Chinese will replace English as the most widely used language on the WWW.

The efforts of the Internationalization Activity, the Internationalization Working Group, and the Internationalization Interest Group have strongly contributed to make sure that established W3C technology can be used readily around the world.

At the same time, the W3C is working on new technologies, for example Web Services and the Semantic Web. These technologies are expected to show deployment patterns similar to the 'classic' WWW. However, the lags between different parts of the world will most probably be shorter. This makes it imperative to identify the relevant internationalization issues and needs for these technologies more quickly, and to be much more proactive than in the past.

3. Goals

The first of the long term goals of the W3C is Universal Access:

Universal Access: To make the Web accessible to all by promoting technologies that take into account the vast differences in culture, languages, education, ability, material resources, and physical limitations of users on all continents;

Internationalization addresses differences in languages (including scripts) and culture.

The core goal of the Internationalization Activity at the W3C is to make it easy to use W3C technology world-wide, with different languages, scripts, and cultures.

W3C deals with a wide range of technology. In addition to that, there are various ways to use this technology with respect to languages, scripts, and cultures. Examples include:

W3C cannot and should not assume or prescribe any of the above usage scenarios, but should provide technology that allows the above scenarios wherever appropriate.

4. Current W3C status/position

See the current charter of the Internationalization Working Group for the objectives of the current I18N WG.

The recent W3C Workshop on Internationalization identified five topics of particular importance for the future work in the Internationalization Activity:

After further investigation, we found that localizability can be covered by appropriate liaisons with organizations in the localization industry, and with an added focus on localizability in the review work. Also, we think that guidelines are an important prerequisite for education and outreach work, and that guidelines and techniques in the area of internationalization should be expected to have a strong education and outreach focus.

We therefore propose to focus on the following three areas: a) existing work, b) Web Services, and c) guidelines, by initially forming three task forces within the Internationalization Working Group.

5. Proposals

5.1 Structure of the Activity

The Internationalization Activity includes the following Groups:

  1. Internationalization Working Group, consisting of the following task forces:
    1. Core task force: Finish current work (Charmod, Internationalized Resource Identifiers (IRIs)), and continue reviews
    2. Web Services task force: Produce use cases and a requirements document in the area of Web Services internationalization, including the identification/exchange of language/culture specific context (locales). May develop into a WG of its own if appropriate, subject to Advisory Committee review.
    3. Guidelines, Education, Outreach (GEO) task force: Produce a framework and a set of guidelines/techniques, in the form of Notes or Web pages. May develop into a WG of its own if appropriate, subject to Advisory Committee review.

    See proposed charter for details, including scope, deliverables, and milestones.

  2. Internationalization Interest Group, supporting the Internationalization Working Group with additional expertise from a wide range of languages and cultures as well as technologies, and providing a forum for discussion of member-confidential issues. See proposed charter.

5.2 Proposed timeline

It is proposed that the Internationalization Activity and the associated groups are renewed from September 2002 until the end of August 2004. The Internationalization Working Group Charter and the Internationalization Interest Group Charter provide details.

5.3 Resource statement

5.3.1 W3C resource commitment

This Activity will consume 1.9 full time equivalents of a Team member. This includes 0.4 full time equivalents required for leading the Internationalization Activity and 1.5 full time equivalents for the Team Contact of the Internationalization Working Group.

5.3.2 Member resource commitment

Each member organization choosing to participate in the Internationalization Working Group is expected to identify one or more individuals as participants. Participation in the Working Group implies a commitment of up to 20% or one day a week for Working Group related tasks.

6. Intellectual property

W3C promotes an open working environment. Whenever possible, technical decisions should be made unencumbered by intellectual property right (IPR) claims.

The Working Group chartered under this Activity is a Royalty Free Working Group, as described in the W3C's Current Patent Practice document.

Working Group participants disclose patent and other IPR claims by sending email to <patent-issues@w3.org>; please see Current Patent Practice for more information about disclosures.

Interest Group participants disclose patent and other IPR claims by sending email to <patent-issues@w3.org>; please see the Process Document, Section 2.2, for more information about disclosures.

7. Stakeholders

The beneficiaries of this work include all those who work or plan to work with W3C technology in general, both on a local and on a world-wide level. This includes large corporations delivering implementations or content in many languages around the world as well as smaller organizations.

$Date: 2002/09/09 18:18:24 $
Martin Dürst