Open Standards for Open Source for Open Government

Open Source solutions for government and the public sector
21 May 2012

Phil Archer <>

What is W3C?


What is a Standard?

W3C Recs as tablets of stone

What is a Standard?

W3C Recs as tablets of stone

What is a Standard?

original robots.txt spec from 1994 history of RSS

What is a Standard?

It's what everyone agrees to do — however that agreement is reached.

Standards Development Organisations (SDOs)


Standards Development Organisations (SDOs)


World Wide Web Consortium
Leading the Web to its full potential

What is an Open Standard?

One produced under an open process.

A spec on its own is not enough.

A spec without implementation is fiction.

Implementations Matter (a lot)

Screenshot of RFC 1149 (Avian carriers)

Implementations Matter (a lot)

Picture of man attaching message carrier pigeon Entering data received

What is an Open Standard?

  • transparency (process, technical discussions, meeting minutes, are publicly archived and referencable in decision making);
  • relevance (market needs, requirements, accessibility, multi-linguism);
  • openness (anybody can participate, and everybody does: industry, individual, public, government bodies, academia, on a worldwide scale);
  • impartiality and consensus (fairness and equal weight guaranteed by the process);
  • availability (access to the text, both during development, at final stage, and for translations);
  • maintenance (ongoing process for testing, errata, revision, permanent access, validation, etc.).
  • The Elephant in the Room

    An elephant in a meeting toom


    extract from license for GRPS: We own this extract from wi-fi spec licence - it might cost you to implement this

    W3C is Royalty Free

    screenshot of W3C 2004 Patent Policy

    W3C is Royalty Free

    screenshot of W3C 2004 Patent Policy the abstract

    W3C is Royalty Free

    Anyone can implement any W3C standard and not incur royalty fees.

    That means it's the right licence for open source (how could a community pay a royalty fee?).

    The Cabinet Office Consultation

    Proposal is to set policy of using Open Standards for:

    Proposal is to comply or explain.

    The Web

    Designed to share data and documents between departments running different systems at CERN (i.e. software interoperability, document and data formats).

    Based on the idea that we can agree on a few simple things.

    Built on royalty free open standards.

    Implemented in a lot of open source software (Apache Web server, Saxon XML parser, Firefox browser).

    Can equally be implemented in proprietary software (Microsoft, Apple etc.).

    Why Open Standards are Right for Public Sector Procurement

    Open Standards:

    Don't Feel left Out

    20 August 1991

    screenshot of original announcement of release of WWW


    The Web — it's been quite successful

    screenshot of Guardian reporting of Facebook purchase of Instagram for $1bn

    Thank you

    Slides created using HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

    Phil Archer <>