W3C Architecture Domain Internationalization Activity

Internationalization Tag Set (ITS) Working Group Charter

Yves Savourel, Enlaso, Chair
Richard Ishida, W3C, Team Contact
Martin Dürst, W3C, Internationalization Activity Lead
last revised $Date: 2008/11/18 14:49:21 $ by $Author: plh $

This Working Group follows the rules and requirements of the latest operative version of the World Wide Web Consortium Process Document. In the event of a conflict between this document and the W3C Process Document, the W3C Process Document shall take precedence.

[This document was modified in place to update the duration section]

  1. Mission
  2. Background
  3. Scope
  4. Out Of Scope
  5. Deliverables
  6. Duration
  7. Expected milestones
  8. Coordination With Other Groups
  9. Voting Procedure
  10. Confidentiality
  11. Meetings
  12. Communication
  13. Group Participation
  14. Patent Policy


The mission of the Internationalization Tag Set Working Group (ITS WG) is to develop a set of elements and attributes that can be used with new DTDs/Schemas to support the internationalization and localization of documents, and to provide techniques for developers of DTDs/Schemas dealing with approaches that best support internationalization of their documents.


The World Wide Web is by its name and by its actual extent world-wide. Enabling people from all parts of the world to make full use of Web technologies requires support for their languages, writing systems and cultures. The W3C is firmly committed to making sure that its specifications and other outputs are adequately internationalized. Overall W3C work has moved on at a high pace, and is expected to continue to do so, but internationalization is a continuing concern for W3C, as part of the W3C goal of Universal Access.

The W3C Internationalization Activity was created in October 1995. In February 1998, the Internationalization (I18N) WG was created, and has been rechartered regularly. In 2002 the WG divided its work across three task forces. This charter proposes a new Working Group.

Developers who create formats based on XML cannot be expected to foresee all the potential requirements and issues associated with internationalization and localization of content created using those formats. Nor is it sensible to expect each developer to reinvent the wheel each time. It would be much better if there was a set of 'ready-made' elements and attributes, that had been designed using state of the art knowledge about internationalization and localization needs, that developers could include in the format they are developing. Furthermore, standardization of internationalization and localization related tags would also benefit the localization industry, particularly where automated translation tool technology is deployed. Not all best practice can be implemented simply by adding a standard set of tags, so it would be useful to also provide a set of complementary guidelines.

The W3C is a logical place to develop a tag set and guidelines of this kind. As the developer and maintainer of XML, the Consortium has a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience to bring to bear on the topic. That experience is strengthened through its work over the years internationalizing XML-based formats such as XHTML, SVG, SMIL, MathML, etc. In addition, the Consortium provides a highly visible and credible forum for exposing best practice to the developers that should consider their use.

The time is also right for this development. Industry has expressed renewed interest in pursuing this topic during 2004, and the Working Group should include participants who also represent the interests of the Localization Industry Standards Association (LISA) and the OASIS Localization Technical Committee (which produces XLIFF).


The proposed tag set will be offered as a set of recommended items for inclusion in DTDs and Schemas, and can also be used as a namespace. It is aimed at developers of XML document DTDs/Schemas, and should represent the needs of localizers in addition to more general internationalization related markup.

The techniques will provide more general internationalization-related advice to developers of DTDs and Schemas, in addition to recommending the use of the tag set, and details on how to use it. While it is expected that the tag set will make internationalization of DTDs and Schemas significantly easier and more straightforward, different types of DTDs and Schemas may have somewhat different needs or requirements; it is not the purpose of this work to restrict such variability where needed.

Out of Scope

The ITS WG will not work on document-external mechanisms or data formats for describing localization-relevant information over and above what is appropriate for inclusion in the format itself, e.g. as might be used for preparing data for use by a localization tool. Such mechanisms and data formats, also sometimes called 'XML Localization Properties', can be developed by the localization industry without W3C involvement. However, requirements resulting from such mechanisms should be incorporated into the work of this WG.


Working Group Note: Requirements for an internationalization/localizability tag set

The WG will develop a set of requirements for development of the internationalization tag set described below. This document should incorporate requirements arising from any work on localization formats developed by localization groups (eg. translatability flags, notes to translators), but should also address requirements for supporting content in the many scripts and languages around the world (eg. support of bidirectional text, ruby annotations, language/localization information, switch for language alternatives, indication of glyph variants).

Recommendation: Internationalization/localizability tag set

Building on the requirements work, the WG will develop a set of XML elements and attributes that can be used as a namespace or included in a DTD or schema to ensure a standard and effective approach to enabling internationalization and localization.

Working Group Note: Techniques for DTD/Schema internationalization and localizability

The WG will develop techniques for the developers of DTDs and W3C Schemas that help them develop formats that support international content and localization. This information will recommend techniques that can be addressed by the tag set proposed in the previous deliverable, or by other approaches, and will add advice that goes beyond the use of the tag set (e.g. exclusion of natural language text from attributes).


The expiration date of this charter is 31 December 2008.

Expected milestones

The following milestones relate specifically to the DTD/Schema work.

November 2004
Open call for requirements
Mar 2005
First publication of requirements document
July 2005
First publication of proposed tag set
September 2005
Second publication of requirements document
First publication of techniques document.
October 2005
Second publication of proposed tag set
December 2005
Proposed tag set in last call

These milestones are subject to revision due to editorial needs and external scheduling issues; updates will be negotiated with the related groups and recorded on the ITS Working Group home page.

If it is felt that a workshop may help in the development of requirements, we will consider organizing one during the early requirements development (ie. early 2005).

Coordination With Other Groups

W3C Groups

Some dependencies to and from the following W3C Working Groups will require close cooperation during the development process. The interdependency of this Group with these Working Groups must be managed actively.

The ITS WG will also need to coordinate at various points with the HTML, SVG, and other working groups, since the ITS WG will base some of its work on the experience with internationalization markup in these specifications, and ideas developed by ITS will be of relevance to new markup languages of this kind.

The ITS WG will participate in the Hypertext Coordination Group (member-only link) for coordination within the Interaction Domain and with related Activities. This participation may occur through the mediation of the chair of one of the other two WG in the Internationalization Activity.

External Groups

Voting procedure

The group will attempt to resolve all issues by consensus where possible. In some cases a formal vote may be required. These cases are: where consensus is not possible to achieve, when the Chair is petitioned by a Working Group member for a vote, or at the discretion of the Chair with the approval of the Working Group.

A formal vote on a question or motion may be approved by a two-thirds vote in favor by the participants in Good Standing. Each participating organization in Good Standing shall have one vote, regardless of the total number of participants from that organization. Votes by less than half the participants of the Working Group may be appealed to the Chair on the grounds of lacking a quorum.

Since more than one individual from a given W3C Member organizations can participate in the Working Group, a W3C Member organization must designate one person to vote on any issues that require it. An alternate can serve as a fallback when their main representative is temporarily unavailable.


The proceedings of this Group are Public, subject to exceptions made by the Chair with the Group's agreement. In order to facilitate work with other Member-confidential groups some discussions involving the work of other groups may take place on member-only lists.


The Group will have distributed and face-to-face meetings. It is expected that face-to-face meetings will occur about twice per year and distributed meetings about one hour per week. Although not yet finalized, the first face-to-face meeting is currently being planned during the W3C Technical Plenary Week 28 February to 4 March 2005, in Boston, MA, USA.


The ITS Working Group (principals and alternates) will communicate the following mailing lists:

The Group will also maintain a Working Group Home Page and share the Internationalization Activity Home Page with the rest of the Internationalization Activity.

See also section 6.2.7, "Working Group "Heartbeat" Requirement" in the W3C Process Document.

Group Participation

Participation in this Group is expected to consume up to half a day per week of each participant's time, though the time commitment for the Chair and editors may require additional time. If there is more than one participant from a W3C Member organization, each participant will be expected to contribute up to 10% of his/her time, excluding the time needed by them for internal coordination. For more details about participation requirements, please see the Process Document.

Those who cannot commit to the time required of a WG participant may participate as time or interest allows via the public archive and the IG mailing list.


The initial Chair of this Working Group is Yves Savourel, Enlaso.

W3C Team Contact

The initial W3C Team contact is Richard Ishida. It is expected that this Group will consume about 0.3 FTE, including administrative logistics.

Patent Policy

This Working Group operates under the W3C Patent Policy (5 February 2004 Version). To promote the widest adoption of Web standards, W3C seeks to issue Recommendations that can be implemented, according to this policy, on a Royalty-Free basis.

Richard Ishida, Team Contact