On 1 August 2014, W3C began a transition away from this document; see the current W3C Process Document.

W3C Process Document

1 Introduction

The W3C Process Document describes the organizational structure of the W3C and the processes related to the responsibilities and functions they exercise to enable W3C to accomplish its mission. Much W3C work involves the standardization of Web technology. Working Groups carry out this work by building consensus around technical reports that become W3C Recommendations. This document describes processes for creating Recommendations, coordinating groups within W3C, and coordinating W3C work with that of other organizations.

The Process Document formalizes the most important aspects of how W3C works to achieve such goals as: quality results, consensus about the results, responses to comments, fairness, and progress. Here is a general overview of what goes into developing a W3C Recommendation.

  1. People generate interest in a particular topic (e.g., Web services). For instance, Members express interest in the form of Member Submissions, and the Team monitors work inside and outside of W3C for signs of interest. Also, W3C is likely to organize a workshop to bring people together to discuss topics that interest the W3C community. This was the case, for example, with Web services.
  2. When there is enough interest in a topic (e.g., after a successful workshop and/or discussion on an Advisory Committee mailing list), the Director announces the development of a proposal for a new Activity or Working Group charter, depending on the breadth of the topic of interest. An Activity Proposal describes the scope, duration, and other characteristics of the intended work, and includes the charters of one or more Working Groups, Interest Groups, and possibly Coordination Groups to carry out the work. W3C Members review each Activity Proposal and the associated Working Group charters. When there is support within W3C for investing resources in the topic of interest, the Director approves the new Activity and groups get down to work. For the Web Services Activity, the initial Activity Proposal called for one Working Group to work on Web Services Architecture and one to work on a language for Web Services Description. The Activity Proposal also incorporated an existing Working Group (from another Activity) working on XML Protocols.
  3. There are four types of Working Group participants: the Chair, Member representatives, invited experts, and Team representatives. Team representatives both contribute to the technical work and help ensure the group's proper integration with the rest of W3C. The Working Group charter sets expectations about each group's deliverables (e.g., technical reports, test suites, and tutorials).
  4. Working Groups generally create specifications and guidelines that undergo cycles of revision and review as they advance to W3C Recommendation status. The W3C process for producing these technical reports includes significant review by the Members and public, and requirements that the Working Group be able to show implementation and interoperability experience. At the end of the process, the Advisory Committee reviews the mature technical report, and if there is support, W3C publishes it as a Recommendation.

The Process Document promotes the goals of quality and fairness in technical decisions by encouraging consensus, requiring reviews (by both Members and public) as part of the Recommendation Track, and through an appeal process for the Advisory Committee.

The other sections of the Process Document:

  1. set forth policies for participation in W3C groups,
  2. establish two permanent groups within W3C: the Technical Architecture Group (TAG), to help resolve Consortium-wide technical issues; and the Advisory Board (AB), to help resolve Consortium-wide non-technical issues, and to manage the evolution of the W3C process, and
  3. describe other interactions between the Members (as represented by the W3C Advisory Committee), the Team, and the general public.