W3C 2011: Select Priorities and Milestones

Status: This public document from the W3C management describes some of the exciting work and key milestones in 2011 for select W3C activities. The topics covered here have been discussed with the W3C Membership.

As the World Wide Web enters its third decade, it continues to transform human communication, information sharing, commerce, education, and entertainment. Social networking, cloud computing, and the convergence of Web, television, video and online gaming are among the phenomena stretching the Web in exciting new directions. The Web will stretch further as it connects more people and as we connect more devices to it, such as mobile phones, TV, sensors, power grid, and more.

The W3C community is building an Open Web Platform that will enable the Web to grow and foster future innovation. This document presents technology highlights in 2011 for advancing the platform. It also includes the organizational priorities that will enable W3C to better serve its stakeholders and foster participation in W3C work. By focusing on these activities and working with other organizations in the Internet Ecosystem such as ISOC, the IETF, and many other communities, W3C will better fulfill its mission of Web technology stewardship.

Learn more about how to lend your support to W3C and support the Web.


W3C's Open Web Platform is transforming business practices, enriching human interactions, and providing innovators the tools to create entirely new experiences on the Web. In 2011, W3C will focus its technology efforts on these areas:

To ensure the success of these efforts, W3C is also planning a number of changes to the organization. New programs will promote international participation, greater developer involvement in pre-standards work, and community-building around the application of W3C standards to specific verticals or business areas. W3C will also continue to work with governments and other standards bodies to ensure that the Internet Ecosystem as a whole remains interoperable and available to all users.

Technology Highlights in 2011

W3C has a diverse technical program. Below we highlight objectives for some of these activities in 2011.

Powerful Web Apps

HTML5 is the cornerstone of a set of technologies and APIs for building rich, interactive, and powerful Web Applications, on a wide array of devices. Industry excitement around HTML5, CSS, SVG, WOFF, APIs (for access to user data such as contacts and calendar, and device capabilities such as geolocation and camera) and more promises to keep this a fast-moving area of standardization.


W3C expects to advance HTML5 to Last Call in May 2011, including accessibility support for important new features. Through a comprehensive test suite, W3C plans to expand efforts to achieve interoperability to meet the challenge posed by the growing number and diversity of devices that connect to the Web. The development, maintenance and deployment of interoperability and conformance test suites is the best engineering tool available both to assess and improve the correct implementation of Web standards.

In addition:


In 2011, W3C expects CSS 2.1 to become a Recommendation. This is important both as a stable reference and because a number of CSS3 modules rely on the definitions in CSS 2.1. W3C expects a number of CSS3 modules to advance to Recommendation in 2011 (Color Module, Selectors) and for others to progress towards Candidate Recommendation.

Web Fonts (WOFF)

W3C took an important step towards standardization of a downloadable font format with the first draft of the WOFF File Format 1.0 in July 2010. WOFF expands the typographic palette available to Web designers, improving readability, accessibility, internationalization, branding, and search optimization. WOFF represents a pivotal agreement among browser vendors, foundries and font service providers who have convened at W3C to address the long-standing goal of advancing Web typography. WOFF typefaces are available from an increasing number of commercial foundries. W3C expects WOFF to advance to Candidate Recommendation in 2011.

Data and Service Integration

The Web of linked data continues to grow. On the technology site, W3C has focused on data integration: make it easier for people to leverage (and contribute to) the growing linked open data cloud. This includes connecting traditional relational databases to the Semantic Web, and standardizing APIs to provide access to linked data within Web Applications. Adoption of policies for the publication of open government data is spreading worldwide, with particular interest all across the European Union.

Data for Web Applications

In 2011, W3C expects to launch a new Working Group to work on the next generation of RDF, the core Semantic Web technology, to include some of the features that the community has identified as both desirable and important for interoperability based on experience. The charter scope includes new serializations for RDF (e.g., JSON and Turtle) likely to increase adoption by Web Application developers. W3C also expects to charter an RDF Web Applications Working Group in 2011 to work on standards that allow people to create Semantic Web enabled Web Apps. These applications will have access to data from a variety of sources, including data-in-documents (RDFa) and data-from-databases (W3C's RDB2RDF work).

Open Government Data

Over the past year, we have observed a strong and growing interest in Semantic Web technologies in the open government data movement. W3C's eGovernment Interest Group served as a forum for discussion about the challenges that government employees and suppliers face when deploying linked data, including the need for education about good practices. W3C expects to launch a new Working Group in 2011 to create best practices for publishing government linked data and any core vocabularies that will help to follow these practices.

Translational Medicine

In addition to government data, W3C has, for a number of years, worked with technologists in the health care and life sciences community on the adoption of Semantic Web technology. In 2011, W3C expects to focus on the use of Semantic Web technology in translational medicine, with a particular emphasis on pharmaceutical companies seeking technology solutions for better extraction and integration of large amounts of data in the course of scientific work, including in the development of pharmaceuticals.

XML and Web of Services

XML has been an enormous deployment success. W3C is developing new versions of a number of XML specifications: the XML Processing Model, XML Query, XML Query Scripting, XML Query Update, Full Text, XSLT (including Streaming Transformations and also JSON interchange), XSL-FO (XML Print and layout) and XML Schema. The Efficient XML Interchange (EXI) 1.0 Format, expected to become a W3C Recommendation in early 2011, should bring XML into new areas, in particular mobile devices and embedded platforms.

The technical programs at W3C bridge multiple communities. Where communities have different perspectives, W3C seeks to create an environment where they may learn from each other and maximize interoperability. While both HTML5 and XML are very successful, there are opportunities to bring the technologies (and the respective communities) closer together. The W3C Technical Architecture Group (TAG) has created a task force to look for such opportunities starting in 2011.

W3C plans to complete a package of Web Services specifications, addressing major needs expressed by the W3C Membership: SOAP over Java Message Service, WS-SOAP Assertions, WS-Transfer, WS-Eventing, WS-Event Descriptions, WS-Metadata Exchange and WS-Enumeration.

Web of Trust

We have seen an evolution of Web technologies toward significantly more intense collection, processing, and publication of personal data. The technologies that we develop are turning into a powerful application platform. The same features that enable entire classes of new applications (e.g., based on position information) can raise new privacy and security issues. At the same time, individuals and organizations are choosing to store or process ever increasing amounts of data in the cloud. W3C has a strong commitment to protecting users, and works to ensure that specifications are clear about privacy and security implications. W3C also works with other stakeholders — software developers, regulators — so that all parties recognize their responsibilities in building a Web that people can trust.

Identity on the Web

The Web is a network where various parties exchange information. Where interactions require parties to identify themselves (e.g., logging into a social network or purchasing something on the Web), it is also necessary to take into account privacy, security, online safety, and other considerations of social interactions. While there has been a proliferation of innovative identity work on the Web in a number of fora outside the W3C over the last decade, lack of incorporation of privacy-aware identity technologies into the everyday Web experience of users and applications is a major road block for the advancement of areas as diverse as cloud computing, eGov, and social networking. The lack of convergence of identity work has led to a fracture of the marketplace. In December 2010, the Social Web Incubator Group completed a year-long study of existing social networking and identity efforts and best practices: A Standards-based, Open and Privacy-aware Social Web. This study suggests that the W3C has an opportunity to work with a broad set of stakeholders around identity on a more serious and committed level to address this fragmentation. W3C Members created a WebID Incubator Group in January 2010, and W3C plans to organize a W3C Workshop on identity in the browser. If these conversations demonstrate that stakeholders see W3C as a forum for building a clear path forward, W3C will launch new standards-track work in this area in 2011.

Privacy and Security

In 2011, W3C expects to charter a Web Application Security Working Group for work on specific technologies to enable more robust and secure Web Applications.

In the privacy space, we are pleased to see a broad and reinvigorated policy and technical discussion on the Web. Following up on last year's workshops, W3C expects charter a privacy interest group as a community forum. Further, we will work with members and policy makers to identify what technical work items might be suitable for recommendation track work.

Furthermore, in 2011, W3C expects to launch a Provenance Working Group to work on standards for representing and exchanging provenance information. Provenance refers to the sources of information, such as entities and processes, involved in producing or delivering an artifact. The provenance of information is crucial in deciding whether information is to be trusted, how it should be integrated with other diverse information sources, and how to give credit to its originators when reusing it. In an open and inclusive environment such as the Web, users find information that is often contradictory or questionable. People make trust judgments based on provenance that may or may not be explicitly offered to them. The lack of a standard model is a significant impediment to realizing such applications.

Television, Mobile, and the Web of Devices

W3C has long promoted device-independent technology, to make it easy to introduce new devices to the Web. The Mobile Web is well-established, and we are beginning to see greater convergence between Television and the Web. Broadband, inexpensive and mobile devices, HTML5 video, social networking, and other factors have made content creation commonplace, which may change forever the television landscape. We do not yet know how the television industry and the Web will affect each other, but W3C Members and those in television and broadcasting are making W3C the place for that conversation.

Web and Television

With the advent of IP-based devices, connected TVs are progressing at a fast pace and traditional TV broadcasting is quickly evolving into a more immersive experience where users can interact with rich applications that are at least partly based on Web technologies. There is strong growth in the deployment of devices that integrate regular Web technologies such as HTML, CSS, and SVG, coupled with various device APIs. There is huge potential for the future to create an interoperable platform where Web and TV benefit from each other, for instance through the introduction of additional device APIs specifically targeted at TVs, or by bringing Web accessibility guidelines to TVs.

In 2011, W3C expects to launch an Interest Group to provide a forum for Web and TV technical discussions, to review existing work, as well as the relationship between services on the Web and TV services, and to identify requirements and potential solutions to ensure that the Web will function well with TV. A Workshop in Berlin takes place February (the second in a series on Web and Television). Later in the year, W3C expects launch a Working Group whose standardization scope depends on the priorities established through Interest Group and Workshop discussion.

Web Applications on Mobile Devices

W3C plans to promote the creation and distribution of Web applications for mobile devices, built with HTML5, device APIs, and other open W3C standards and guidelines. This will lower developer costs, reduce fragmentation, and expand the market for applications. Because W3C's work on Web applications is widely recognized in the mobile industry, the WAC (Wholesale Applications Community) has announced their expectation of basing their approach on W3C open standards. Both organizations are discussing opportunities for closer cooperation to promote the adoption of W3C standards.

Touch screens, tablets, and other interactive devices

Web browsers and mobile devices are making increasing use of touch-sensitive inputs, such as with a screen, trackpad, or tablet interface, as the primary or supplementary interface for web applications. This enables web developers to build more intuitive and sophisticated applications that fit naturally with the device being used. Fast, inexpensive hardware and recent deployment on mobile devices have led to a proliferation of different approaches to software interface design. A related class of devices, including drawing tablets, interactive surfaces, pen devices, digital whiteboards, and spatial sensors, are also becoming more Web-enabled, driving the need to account for a wider range of capability than simple touch interfaces. In 2011, W3C plans to publish specifications that enable Web applications to access event information related to touch-sensitive input devices, including multi-touch, pen-tablet, and related interfaces, as well as higher-level user-action events.

Points of Interest

Now that current generations of mobile devices routinely include cameras, GPS devices, and other sensors, there is growing interest in "points of interest" information on the Web. Points of Interest data has many uses, including augmented reality browsers, location-based social networking games, geocaching, mapping, navigation systems, and many others. In 2010, W3C expects the Points of Interest Working Group to publish first drafts for new standards in this area.

One Web for All

Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the Web and Director of W3C has said that "The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect." W3C has built industry and government support around comprehensive Web accessibility guidelines for over a decade. Review of all specifications by experts in accessibility and internationalization help to ensure that W3C technologies promote this universality.


In addition to the accessibility work that is integral to the success of HTML5, W3C plans to focus on the following deliverables in 2011 to ensure that the Web does not raise barriers to people with disabilities:

Multilingual Web

W3C designs technology so that the Web can be used by people regardless of language. Multilingual capabilities are valuable to all, but increasingly important in developing economies, where voice applications provide a more natural way of interacting with people, and therefore lowering the barriers of information and communications technology (ICT) adoption. In 2011, W3C plans to organize three Workshops in different regions to raise visibility of the current landscape and gaps in multilingual practices.

Organizational Priorities in 2011

W3C has prioritized inclusion and participation in 2011. There will be new ways for developers and non-Member organizations to participate. Enabling more people to bring new ideas to W3C (from Membership but also the broader Web community) will improve W3C's reputation among various stakeholders. Robust community support will, in turn, help W3C create high quality, relevant standards and thus strengthen our role as stewards for key Web technologies and best practices. Community-driven processes will enable W3C to do more work, as well as enhance the value of Membership and the importance of staff as technology experts, mentors, and diplomats.

Participation and Inclusion

W3C is welcoming new participants by creating new types of groups:

While W3C is an international organization, more can be done to support global participation. Ensuring that we have relevant stakeholders at the standards table and making it as easy as possible to participate are fundamental elements of ensuring the success of our technical work.

Community Groups

W3C Members and staff have produced a number of successful and widely deployed Web standards following the W3C process since it was first published in 1997. However, since the early days of the Consortium, the number of stakeholders on the Web has grown significantly, powerful collaboration tools have gone mainstream, and expectations about standards themselves have evolved. W3C's "classic" process and Membership models, though they have evolved with experience, do not match some of the patterns and expectations that have emerged in recent years. The evidence for this is the number of ad-hoc organizations that have emerged to host some Web-related work.

W3C has therefore created a new offering called Community Groups, where anyone may develop specifications, hold discussions, develop tests, and so on at zero cost. The new process focuses on individual innovation and experimentation, while the classic process emphasizes broad consensus-building among global stakeholders. The new process complements the classic process; it does not replace it.

In general, but especially as we welcome larger numbers of new people to W3C groups, W3C promotes consensus and constructive collaboration in its community. As part of the community group proposal, the staff expects to develop clear policies to help create a positive work environment.

Business Groups

Through Business Groups W3C seeks to increase participation in W3C from organizations that are more interested in the application of W3C technology to their domain of interest (e.g., energy, publishing) than they are in the development of the standards themselves. Business groups are designed to promote focused collaboration among organizations on a specific life cycle application of W3C technologies (e.g. deployment in a specific industry). This proposal is designed to enable new audiences to participate in W3C and to generate revenue at the same time, while still preserving the value of Membership for organizations primarily involved in standards work or that want significant staff connectivity.

International participation

The W3C community is global, with participants on every continent. However, there remain very real barriers to participation because of economics, language, time zones, and culture. W3C has made it a priority in 2011 to increase global participation through Community Groups and additional outreach, including through the W3C Offices program. The Offices are partner organizations in various regions of the world that promote adoption of W3C standards and participation by local developers, application builders, and standards setters.

International Liaisons

In order to ensure the successful deployment of W3C standards, W3C works closely with other standards bodies (for interoperability) and governments (for procurement), and international organizations (to demonstrate leadership). Please see our Liaisons page for our list of current liaison contacts.

IETF Liaison

The W3C/IETF liaison relationship remains healthy and is currently focused on:

International Adoption of W3C Standards

There are contexts where having the de-jure standard imprimatur is likely to increase adoption of W3C specifications. For instance, beyond the W3C brand, a larger audience may be familiar with the ISO brand. Furthermore, there are also contexts where it is mandatory to use ISO/IEC standards or their national transposition by legislation, for instance in some government procurement system. W3C also has experience where lack of coordination among standards bodies results in fragmentation. In 2010, W3C was approved as an ISO/JTC1 PAS Submitter. In 2011, W3C will begin to submit specifications using this process, beginning with Web Services technologies.

Internet Governance

W3C, as one of the providers of core Web/Internet standards and technologies (along with ICANN, IETF/ISOC) faces unique challenges in trying to build a global infrastructure that:

Because multiple organizations develop different parts of the Internet architecture, coordination is an important part of ensuring the success of the system. Our current efforts to promote cooperation include participation in the UN/IGF at various levels, from the advisory council to the working groups on accessibility or open standards, tracking and responding positively to most invitation to talk to other officials communities, like ITU, OECD, G8, etc, and various policy oriented fora.

W3C continues to increase its worldwide presence to ensure that as many people as possible can participate in the creation of Web standards that meet their needs. We are already present on all continents, and we are very excited by the involvement of even more participants and views from organizations and individuals not yet involved in the development of Web standards.

European Union

W3C is a worldwide organization with a strong presence in Europe, both in staff and in membership representation. The European Commission has helped to fund W3C work in Europe since the very beginning of the consortium activities in 1995. During those years, the IT standard landscape in Europe has also evolved to be more inclusive in their official text of the work done by consortia like W3C or IETF.

The new Digital Agenda published by the European Commission in 2010 highlighted some of our main activities and principles. We will continue in 2011 to be active and provide our feedback on those important issues, and to continue being involved in the re-evaluation of the legal European standardization landscape in ICT. Our goal here is to create an environment that is favorable for our continued viability and our recognition as a standards body within Europe, and influence EU technology policy so that it is favorable towards the development of an open Web and Internet, built in part on W3C standards.

Support the Web. Support W3C.

Although our community is international, we cannot confidently build a platform to serve humanity unless we welcome into our fold more participants and reach users, developers, and vendors throughout a global community. W3C has contributed greatly to society and has the potential to contribute further, but we will need continued support from our ecosystem.

W3C Members have the opportunity to interact and work directly with the leading companies, organizations, and individuals in the Web world. Through Membership, these organizations provide strategic direction to the Consortium and to the Web. Learn about W3C Membership.

Ensuring that the Web remains open, accessible and interoperable for everyone around the world is a mission that the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) takes to heart every day. While some of the technical work we do receives funding from Member organizations, we are only able to achieve Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee’s vision of leading the Web to its full potential through the generosity of contributions and sponsorships from individuals and organizations. Contact Ian Jacobs for more information about W3C sponsorship opportunities, which include options for supporting W3C work directly, enriching W3C's popular validator tool, sharing marketing materials at events, and demonstrating social responsibility to ensure the Web is available to all.

Ian Jacobs, Editor. Send comments to w3t-pr@w3.org.

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