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W3C publishes several types of technical reports:
All public technical reports [PUB11] are available at the Web site. W3C will make every effort to make archival documents indefinitely available at their original address in their original form.
The W3C Team will establish conventions for creating and publishing documents [MEM11] and will publish these conventions on the Web site. In general, the Team will not publish a document as a public W3C Technical Report unless it follows these conventions (for naming, style, copyright requirements, etc.). The Team reserves the right to reformat documents at any time so as to conform to changes in W3C practice (e.g., changes to document style or the "Status of this Document" section).
All Notes, Working Drafts, Candidate Recommendations, and Recommendations must include a section indicating the status of the document. The status section of a document should explain why W3C has published the document, whether or not it is part of the Recommendation track, who developed the document, where comments about the document may be sent, and any other metadata about the document deemed relevant by the editors. The status section indicate the document's maturity level (Working Draft, Candidate Recommendation, or Recommendation).
Each document produced by a group will be edited by one or more editors appointed by the group Chair. It is the responsibility of these editors to ensure that the decisions of the group are correctly reflected in subsequent drafts of the document. Document editors need not belong to the W3C Team.
The primary language for official W3C documents is English. In addition to the official English version of a document, W3C welcomes translated versions. Information about translations of W3C documents [PUB18] is available at the Web site.
At times, it may be deemed necessary to make hitherto confidential documents public. Any proposal to make a document public must be approved by a majority of the Advisory Committee through the review process. If approved, the document may be published in the public Web site (e.g., as a Note) at the discretion of the Director.
W3C Working Groups are generally chartered to produce documents (e.g., technical specifications, guidelines, etc.) The W3C "Recommendation Track" refers to the process by which a document is revised and reviewed until considered mature enough by the Membership and Director to be published as a Recommendation.
The following labels refer to the level of maturity of a document:
Every document must clearly indicate its maturity level.
For a document to become a Recommendation, it must begin as a Working Draft and follow the process described below. Generally, Working Groups create Working Drafts with the intent of advancing them along the Recommendation track. However, publication of a Working Draft does not guarantee that it will advance to Candidate Recommendation or Recommendation. Some Working Drafts may be dropped as active work, others may be subsumed by other Working Drafts, still others may be published as Notes.
A W3C Recommendation may be submitted to other standards bodies for ratification by their constituencies, however this is not required or guaranteed. Additionally, steps in the process below might be modified in order to properly coordinate W3C activities with other related Standards Development Organizations.
A Working Draft is a chartered work item of a Working Group and generally represents work in progress and a commitment by W3C to pursue work in a particular area. At least every three months, a Working Group must publish a (public) Working Draft to keep the community abreast of its progress and to prompt the Working Group to resolve issues in a timely fashion. The first public Working Draft (or release of the document for review beyond the Working Group) must be approved by the Director.
Publication of a Working Draft is not an assertion of consensus, endorsement or technical and editorial quality. The Working Draft may be unstable and it may not address all Working Group requirements, though the Chair should endeavor to obtain Working Group support for publication within the constraints of the requirement to publish every three months.
A Working Draft must include a paragraph in the status section of the document that makes clear that the document may change at any time, does not represent consensus from W3C or its Members, and may not be cited as other than a work in progress. Here is a sample paragraph for a public Working Draft:
This is a public W3C Working Draft for review by W3C members and other interested parties. It is a draft document and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any time. It is inappropriate to use W3C Working Drafts as reference material or to cite them as other than "work in progress". A list of current public W3C Working Drafts can be found at http://www.w3.org/TR.
A Last Call Working Draft is a special instance of a Working Draft that is considered by the Working Group to meet the requirements of its charter. The Working Group publishes a Last Call Working Draft in order to solicit review from at least all dependent Working Groups (copying Chairs of known dependent groups). External feedback is also encouraged. A last call announcement must recapitulate known dependencies. It must also state the deadline for comments (e.g., three to four weeks is issued). The Last Call Working Draft must be a public document.
To ensure the proper integration of a specification in the international community, documents must, from this point on in the Recommendation process, contain a statement about how the technology relates to existing international standards and to relevant activities being pursued by other organizations.
Once the last call period has ended, all issues raised during the last call period resolved, and the Working Draft modified if necessary, the Working Group may request that the Director submit the document for review by the Advisory Committee as a Candidate Recommendation. It is possible that comments will cause substantive changes that require that the document return to Working Draft status before being advanced to Last Call again.
A Candidate Recommendation has received significant review from its immediate technical community (resulting from the Last Call). Advancement of a document to Candidate Recommendation is an explicit call to those outside of the related Working Groups or the W3C itself for implementation and technical feedback. There is no requirement that a Working Draft have two independent and interoperable implementations to become a Candidate Recommendation. Instead, this is the phase at which the Working Group is responsible for formally acquiring that experience or at least defining the expectations of implementation.
The Working Group's request for advancement to Candidate Recommendation should include a report of present and expected implementation of the specification. The request must also specify a duration for the implementation period. If, at the end of that time, the Working Group has not requested that the document advance to Proposed Recommendation, the document returns to Working Draft status. A Candidate Recommendation may be updated while in review if those updates clarify existing meaning or consensus. Substantive changes that require coordination with other groups will cause the document to return to Working Draft status. The Working Group may request that the implementation period be shortened or lengthened, subject to approval by the Director. The request must explain the reasons for the change.
The Working Group may request that the Director advance a document directly from Working Draft to Proposed Recommendation status under two conditions:
A Proposed Recommendation is believed by the Working Group to meet the requirements of the Working Group's charter and to adequately address dependencies from the W3C technical community and comments from external reviewers. The Director issues a call for review of a Proposed Recommendation (accompanied by other materials such as documented minority opinions, implementation status, etc.) for political and promotional support and feedback from the Advisory Committee (refer to how to start Member review of a Proposed Recommendation [MEM12]). The review period may not be less than four weeks.
Although the Advisory Committee may also comment on technical aspects of a specification, most technical issues should have already been resolved at this phase. There is no requirement that a Candidate Recommendation have two independent and interoperable implementations to become a Proposed Recommendation. However, such experience is strongly encouraged and will generally strengthen its case before the Advisory Committee.
The editors of the Proposed Recommendation must respond to substantive comments from the Advisory Committee until the end of the review period.
No sooner than two weeks after the end of the review period, the Director announces the outcome of the proposal to the Advisory Committee. The Director may:
A Recommendation reflects consensus within W3C, as indicated by the Director's approval. W3C considers that the ideas or technology specified by a Recommendation are appropriate for widespread deployment and promote W3C's mission. W3C will make every effort to maintain its Recommendations (e.g., by tracking errata, providing testbed applications, helping to create test suites, etc.) and to encourage widespread implementation.
Editorial changes may be made to a W3C Recommendation after its release in order, for example, to clarify an issue or correct minor errors. The status section of a revision should indicate that it supersedes previous versions. The Communication Team will notify the Members when a revised Recommendation is published.
If more substantial revisions to a Recommendation are necessary, the document must be returned to the Working Draft phase and the Recommendation process followed from the beginning.
Documents may stay at the Recommendation level indefinitely, though the status section of a Recommendation should indicate whether other documents supersede it (or are expected to).
A Note is a dated, public record of an idea, comment, or document. Notes are published on the Web site at the discretion of the Director and may be published at any time. The publication of a Note does not imply endorsement of its contents by W3C. The status section of a Note indicates whether or not W3C has allocated resources to the topics covered by the Note.
Notes are used in the following situations:
The status section of a Note must state whether W3C has allocated and/or will allocate resources to the work covered by the Note. The status sections of every Note must include this statement:
This document is a NOTE made available by the W3C for discussion only. Publication of this Note by W3C indicates no endorsement by W3C or the W3C Team, or any W3C Members.
If W3C has no resources allocated to the note, include this statement (modifying it appropriately) as well:
No W3C resources were, are, or will be allocated to the issues addressed by the NOTE.
If the document was not prepared or authored by the Team, include this statement as well:
W3C has had no editorial control over the preparation of this Note.
If the Note is the result of a acknowledged Submission request, it must contain the following statement:
This Note is the result of an acknowledged Submission request. Publication of this Note by W3C indicates no endorsement by W3C, the W3C Team, or any W3C Members. W3C has had no editorial control over the preparation of this Note. The acknowledgment of a Submission request does not imply that any action will be taken by W3C. It merely records publicly that the Submission request has been made by the submitting Member. This document may not be referred to as "work in progress" of the W3C.