World Wide Web Consortium
Publishes Public Draft of HTML 4.0

Key Industry Players, Content Specialists and Experts Team-Up to Make the Web More Available and Interactive

Press Release

Director's Perspective


For immediate release
(ce document est également disponible en français)
(also available in Japanese)

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CAMBRIDGE, MASS., USA -- July 8, 1997 -- The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) today announced the first public working draft of HyperText Markup Language (HTML) 4.0, the latest version of the Web's basic publishing language. "HTML 4.0 demonstrates the power of the W3C process," said Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and Inventor of the World Wide Web. "The W3C HTML Working Group is making the web more appealing, more accessible, and more international." The W3C HTML Working Group includes key industry players such as Adobe Systems, Hewlett Packard, IBM, Microsoft, Netscape Communications, Novell, SoftQuad, Spyglass and Sun Microsystems; content specialists at HotWired, PathFinder and Verso, and experts in the fields of accessibility and internationalization.

Powerful New Features

"HTML 4.0 offers Web designers the solid foundations they need to exploit a host of exciting new features without the hidden costs of proprietary extensions", says Dr. Dave Raggett, lead architect of W3C's HTML activity. "You get much greater control over forms, frames and tables, and all the benefits of scripts, style sheets and objects."

The HTML 4.0 working draft builds on the multimedia and hypertext features which debuted in the HTML 3.2 Recommendation published in January, 1997. HTML 4.0 adds enhancements in several areas to make the Web more appealing for both content providers and users:

Greater Accessibility

"The Consortium-wide commitment to improving access for people with disabilities affects this specification in many ways," said W3C Technology and Society Domain Leader Jim Miller. "Our Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) will reach out to authors everywhere to encourage use of these features, as well as introduce new ones."

The new form and table features in HTML 4.0 greatly improve web access for people with disabilities. The table enhancements support use of captions for rendering table content to braille or speech. The forms enhancements support groupings, labels, keyboard shortcuts and titles. Together, these reduce barriers, opening up the web to millions more users worldwide.


Worldwide access was critical to the members of the W3C HTML Working Group. Incorporating the expertise of leading experts on internationalization, HTML 4.0 provides the markup needed for any language including multilingual documents -- authors can now make their documents more accessible to users, whatever their language. HTML 4.0 accomplishes this by fully supporting the international ISO 10646 character set, and allowing authors to manage differences in language, text direction, and character encoding schemes. For example, authors can now use right-to-left or mixed text.

The HTML 4.0 specification has been produced as part of the W3C HTML Activity. After a period of public and Member review, W3C expects it to be endorsed as a new W3C Recommendation.

Please see attached HTML 4.0 Director's Perspective and testimonials document for additional information on HTML 4.0. For information on HTML in particular, see

About the World Wide Web Consortium [W3C]

The W3C was created to develop common protocols that enhance the interoperability and promote the evolution of the World Wide Web. It is an industry consortium jointly run by the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science (LCS) in the USA, the National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control (INRIA) in France and Keio University in Japan. Services provided by the Consortium include: a repository of information about the World Wide Web for developers and users; reference code implementations to embody and promote standards; and various prototype and sample applications to demonstrate use of new technology. To date, over 180 organizations are Members of the Consortium.

For more information about the World Wide Web Consortium, see

About the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science

Now in its third decade, MIT LCS is dedicated to the invention, development and understanding of information technologies expected to drive substantial technical and socio-economic change. The LCS has helped information technology grow from a mere curiosity to 10 percent of the industrial world's economies by its pioneering efforts in interactive computing, computer networking, distributed systems and public key cryptography. LCS members and alumni have started some thirty companies and have pioneered the Nubus, the X-Window System, the RSA algorithm, the Ethernet and spreadsheets.

For more information about the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science, see


INRIA, the French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control, is a public-sector scientific institute charged with conducting both fundamental and applied research, and with transferring research results to industry. INRIA is made up of five Research Units located at Rocquencourt (near Paris), Rennes, Sophia Antipolis, Nancy and Grenoble. Areas of current research include information processing, advanced high speed networking, structured documents, and scientific computation.

For more information about INRIA, see

About Keio University

Keio University is one of Japan's foremost computer science research centers and universities. It is one of the oldest private universities in Japan, and has five major campuses around Tokyo. Keio University has been promoting joint research projects in cooperation with industry, government and international organizations, and is now becoming one of the research leaders for the network and digital media technology.

For more information on Keio University, see

Press Release

Director's Perspective


$Date: 1997/07/15 16:46:47 $