Common Web Language Incubator Group Charter

The mission of the Common Web Language Incubator Group, part of the Incubator Activity, is to develop the CWL (Common Web Language), a common language for exchanging information through the web and also for enabling computers to process information semantically. A pilot model of CWL platform will also be developed on the web. The CWL is used to describe contents and meta-data of web pages written in natural languages. Then CWL will realize a language barrier free world in the web and will also enable computers to extract semantic information and knowledge from web pages accurately.

Join the Common Web Language Incubator Group.

End date 15 November 2007
Confidentiality Proceedings are public
Initial Chairs Hiroshi Uchida (ISeC)
Initiating Members
Usual Meeting Schedule Teleconferences: once/month
Face-to-face: twice a year W3C10Asia; AC Meeting(Tokyo) 28Nov. 2006 in Japan and May 2007 in Canada


An attempt to describe texts in the web in a common language is promoted in the Semantic Web Activity. The RDF/OWL is used as a basic description language and can be used to describe texts in web pages. However, RDF/OWL is originally designed to describe meta-data of resources, and at this moment, there is no standard set of properties and vocabulary to cover various web pages. There are some activities to provide common bases for describing information in the web such as the WordNet, NICT-EDR Electronic Dictionary for providing lexical bases, Conceptual Graphs for providing a representation basis. The CWL initiative is an activity quite different from those activities. The CWL will provide not only representation scheme but also a vocabulary with semantic background. It is an initiative to integrate existing and ongoing activities for providing a common description language with unambiguous grammar and enough amount of lexicons based on the CDL (Concept Description Language) scheme aiming at describing every kind of information understandable for computers.

The CWL has the following characteristics.

  1. CWL is designed to be independent from any natural languages and shall enables users to develop conversion systems between CWL and each natural language.
  2. Different from natural languages, CWL is a formal language playing the same role of natural languages for humans. This allows easy bi-directional conversion between CWL and other formal languages used in the web.
  3. Based on CWL, various kinds of controlled language can easily be developed because of unambiguous structure of CWL.
  4. Since the CWL is a network structured language, it can easily be implemented in RDF/OWL.
The CWL will be used to describe contents of web pages of wide audience and meta-data of various web pages. The CWL can be one of the biggest applications of RDF/OWL in Semantic Web.


[CWL Language Specifications]
The CWL consists of grammar, ontology and lexicons. Grammar and ontology are based on the CDL.nl (CDL for Natural Language) specifications developed under funds from SCOPE of Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. Any lexical set, such as NICT-EDR (Japanese and English) and WordNet (English), can be used as lexicons. Since an ontology is necessary to give a semantic basis of lexicons, we will use the ontology of CDL.nl as a basis.
[Pilot Platform]
The CWL will be used in various situations. In each situation, we need conversion systems between each natural language and CWL, since the CWL is a language for computers and people write web pages in their languages. We will use UNL and UNL system as a pilot platform to fill this gap between computers and people. The UNL was developed in the United Nations University and now the UNDL Foundation deploys UNL throughout the world under the license of the United Nations. At present, UNL systems are operational in more than 20 countries. UNL is a common language for computers and is used for international communication. CWL stands on the same ground. The CDL.nl redesigned the UNL specifications in the CDL language, except lexicons. UWs (Universal Words) which are lexicons of UNL will be provided by UNDL Foundation. Conversion module between CWL and UNL will be developed in this XG and specification of RDF/OWL version of UW will be examined in this XG.

Note: The CDL (Concept Description Language) is a language proposed by ISeC for Semantic Computing (SeC) R&D. CDL is fundamental language within SeC (Semantic Computing) framework. CDL describes semantic/conceptual structure of contents (resources). On the other hand, XML annotates syntactic structures of contents, and RDF/OWL describes properties of resources (contents). Structure description and property description are utterly different but complementary as well. Therefore, CDL and RDF/OWL are complementary. Accordingly, in developing of CDL, the environment of RDF/OWL will be utilized and the implementation method in RDF/OWL will be also proposed.


  1. Common Web Language Specifications
  2. CWL Platform Reports, e.g.:
    • CWL to RDF/OWL conversion
    • RDF/OWL to CWL conversion
    • UNL to CWL conversion
    • CWL to UNL conversion
    • UW to RDF/OWL conversion


W3C Groups

CWL follows the standard technology of RDF/OWL, and layered in Semantic Web Applications and Services. There will be cooperative relations with the Semantic Web Activity groups.

External Groups

The environment of the UNL and the UNL system will be provided by UNDL Foundation. Persons concerned with UNL will be invited to this XG.


Natural language processing researcher, the linguist, and artificial intelligence researcher will participate in the XG. And the groups which utilize CWL contents for the web will be also welcomed.


This group primarily conducts its work on the public mailing list public-xg-cwl@w3.org (archive). The group's Member-only list is member-xg-cwl@w3.org (archive)

Information about the group (deliverables, participants, face-to-face meetings, teleconferences, etc.) is available from the Common Web Language Incubator Group home page.

Decision Policy

As explained in the Process Document (section 3.3), this group will seek to make decisions when there is consensus. When the Chair puts a question and observes dissent, after due consideration of different opinions, the Chair should record a decision (possibly after a formal vote) and any objections, and move on.

Patent Policy

This Incubator Group provides an opportunity to share perspectives on the topic addressed by this charter. W3C reminds Incubator Group participants of their obligation to comply with patent disclosure obligations as set out in Section 6 of the W3C Patent Policy. While the Incubator Group does not produce Recommendation-track documents, when Incubator Group participants review Recommendation-track specifications from Working Groups, the patent disclosure obligations do apply.

Incubator Groups have as a goal to produce work that can be implemented on a Royalty Free basis, as defined in the W3C Patent Policy.

For more information about disclosure obligations for this group, please see the W3C Patent Policy Implementation.

About this Charter

This charter for the Common Web Language Incubator Group has been created according to the Incubator Group Procedures documentation. In the event of a conflict between this document or the provisions of any charter and the W3C Process, the W3C Process shall take precedence.

Hiroshi Uchida  uchida@instsec.org  Common Web Language Incubator Group Chair

$Date: 2007/11/06 19:39:15 $