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IST-2000-28767 QUESTION-HOW Project

This is the home page of the QUESTION-HOW project, financed by the European Commission's IST Programme

Project Goals

The World Wide Web and its infrastructure, the Internet, plays the key role in the development of the Information Society. The mission of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is to "lead the web to its full potential" by evolving the Web as a "robust, scaleable, adaptive infrastructure". W3C's main deliverables are its Recommendations (specifications) that evolve the Web protocols plus timely conversion tools, validation systems and checklists.

Between 1995 and 1999 W3C, with the support of the European Commission, has built a strong European presence, initially via the Webcore Contract which set up the European team at INRIA. This was then extended by the W3C-LA (W3C Leveraging Action) project (Demonstration Action ESPRIT project 26229 - W3C-LA) that encouraged the take-up of Web technologies by developing demonstrators related to the currently emerging web technologies and disseminating them across Europe using six European Offices in Italy, Germany, Greece the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK.

The arrival of vertical XML applications, the ability to enhance information with metadata, the ability to negotiate content with the device and a richer interaction model at the client leaves the industry with complex decisions as to how to evolve their company by providing quality solutions. As the web recommendations are used in handling core business processes, the need for correct integrated future-proof solutions are a major challenge.

W3C is seeing the need to improve the quality of Recommendations as the number and complexity increases and the need to interwork becomes more important. This problem is addressed by the QUESTION-HOW project by the developments of:

  • Validators for Correct Usage: validators for both CSS and HTML, are provided that check both for conformance and also good practice. However, further work is necessary to cover a wide range of recommendations
  • Translators: W3C's tidy is a good example of a tool that both checks a HTML document for correctness but also has the ability to translate that document into XHTML. Similar tools are to be developed, and this project will contribute to this aim.
  • Benchmarks: the new SVG (scalable vector graphics) Recommendation is producing a suite of test documents that illustrate correct usage and also act as a base for developers to check their implementations against. The same is needed for other W3C specifications.
  • Demonstrators: W3C Recommendations spell out in detail what the constraints are on their usage. In general, the actual use that it is applied to is for the application to decide. Providing demonstrators, particularly if they use facilities in an unusual way, help to broaden the applicability of a Recommendation and offer potential users an insight into the richness of the Recommendation, the breadth of its applicability and how that recommendation may impact their business.

The project will also contribute to an extended outreach of W3C. The current set of Offices cover about 75% of the European Union population. To make a more complete coverage of the existing European Union in terms of first line support, there will be the need to open new Offices and/or widen the area covered by existing Offices. This will be done by:

  • A regionalization programme, whereby existing offices will go beyond their national barrier, and will be acting as regional representations of W3C
  • By the creation of new offices to cover those areas that cannot be addressed through regionalization

Finally, the outreach of W3C will be improved through:

  • Developments of various materials like primers, handouts, demonstrations, etc
  • By the organization of two conference tours throughout Europe during the project

Project Participants

Progress to Date (August 2003)

The project is now finished. Major achievements:

  • completed the technical work defined for the first phase of the project (WP01),
  • completed the technical deliverables for the second phase of the project (WP02),
  • implemented the regionalization of 3 existing offices, and the creation of 3 new offices (WP03 and WP04)
  • produced various dissemination materials related to the project (WP05)
  • ran a successfull W3C Interop tour (WP06) in 4 different cities in Europe and an even more successul Semantic Web Tour in June 2003 in 5 cities.
  • transfered the W3C Europe QH staff from INRIA to ERCIM and associated reports.
  • ran a successful annual review with the representatives of the European Commission in September 2002, in Sophia Antipolis and planning our final review in Bruxelles in September 2003.

Daniel Dardailler (, Ivan Herman, (
Last revised: $Date: 2003/09/11 08:27:22 $