This public report was first prepared for the Advisory Committee Meeting 2015. See the accompanying W3C Fact Sheet - May 2015. For the previous edition, see the October 2014 W3C highlights. For future editions of this report, please consult the latest version.
- AC Meeting 2015
- The scope of the Open Web Platform
- Application Development
- Privacy and Security
- Web of Things (WoT)
- Web for All
- Robust Web
- W3C in the World
- Organizational Evolution
- Appendix: Group Details
Incremental progress in four elements (process, tools, doc license, and content) allows us to reach new levels of agility, speed, and innovation.
Following the completion of HTML5 in late 2014, we have entered a period of reflection and renewal. We're seeing exciting changes and change proposals in an increasingly varied scope of work. Within W3C, these fall within four main elements of fundamental change: Process, Tools, Document License, Content.
Introducing new mechanisms in W3C is not new but our objective now is to address them holistically with a view to creating an agile ecosystem. These incremental changes should be managed so that the result is a radical improvement. For example, positive developments include:
- The introduction (2011) of Community Groups
- A new W3C Process (2014, 2015)
- Experimentation with Modern Tools (e.g. GitHub)
- Updates to our document license and updated permissive licensing alternative (Software and Document License)
- New ways to think about content (Extensible Web, Application Foundations)
This approach naturally requires support and feedback from Members and the wider community, and will be the focus of several discussions at the upcoming AC Meeting.
AC Meeting 2015
The 2015 Advisory Committee Meeting takes place in Paris, France 5-7 May. Some of the current developments under discussion will be revisions to the W3C process, new plans for W3C tools and infrastructure, and a look at fundamentally new work and initiatives.
Also in Paris, to mark the 20 years of the W3C in Europe, there will be a W3C Europe@20 Anniversary Event consisting of a symposium and gala dinner at the sumptuous Paris City Hall. Speakers include representatives of the French Ministry of State for Digital Affairs, the European Commission, CNIL, TheFamily, and of course W3C itself.
The meeting and its accompanying festivities and ad-hoc meetups are a valuable opportunity for Member representatives to participate in W3C's evolution and stay up-to-date on charter revision issues, activity roadmaps and event plans. Post-HTML5, now is the time to consolidate the direction for W3C and its future.
The scope of the Open Web Platform
Developing HTML5 and the Open Web Platform has naturally consumed all the energy of the consortium. Last fall we asked ourself the question: Is there excitement in what's coming next? To answer this we should look at the two separate but inter-linked scopes that encompass the features and technologies forming the future of the platform. They enable us to assess and prioritize the work of Team, Members and the public.
We began to explore that with the Application Foundations metaphor, investigating whether there's more that needed to be done. We can now confirm that indeed there's a lot more to do, as can be seen in the messaging from the different areas of work within W3C.
The Application Foundations were introduced last October and for each of them there is valuable work being done, with a good example of this being seen in the latest Standards for Web Applications on Mobile: current state and roadmap. But as much as the Application Foundations represent the next generation of the Web for consumers, at the same time the AC has supported moving W3C into fundamentally technical areas which are important for specific industry verticals.
As part of this categorization, we've been very encouraged by the response to and progress of Web Payments. This is clearly very attractive to new participants in Web standardization, e.g. financial services and the retail sector, as is the recent work in Automotive and the Web of Things. Bringing new and varied stakeholders into the multi-party discussions at W3C ensures we can address the needs of Web users right across the spectrum. The Introductory Industry Membership level is also a part of this focus.
This recent interest in the vertical industries actually intensifies what we've seen for some time. Industries that we previously started exploring within W3C have continued to drive new requirements, providing new opportunities and directions for the consortium. Examples of this are the Push API in Telecommunications, the Presentation API (second screen) in Entertainment and EPUB-WEB for Digital Publishing. In our Social Web area we've also accepted a complete transfer of assets from the Open Social Foundation.
Following HTML5 becoming a Recommendation at TPAC 2014, we've been working on a plan for the HTML WG which has been presented to the AB and is being refined. Some things being looked into are:
- Better integration between Working Groups and Community Groups
- Updates and extensions to HTML
- New features such as Media APIs and advanced editing capabilities
- Improved markup for application UIs
HTML was originally created for documents but is increasingly used for web apps. One solution to address this is Web Components as well as advanced form controls. HTML5 form input types, however, still lack complete cross-browser support in an interoperable and stylable way. The above plan should help find solutions and form the basis of a new charter later this year.
- There was an HTML Media Task Force face-to-face meeting in April
- Also in April was an Extensible Web Summit in San Francisco for more community discussion
- A change of staff responsibility sees Robin Berjon take on the role of HTML activity lead
The CSS WG is busy as usual with several publications and updates, including:
- CSS3 Counter Styles becoming a Candidate Recommendation
- The First Public Working Draft of CSS3 Pseudo-Elements
A very exciting development is Houdini, a joint Task Force between the CSS WG and TAG which was born out of discussions at TPAC 2014.
The aim is to remove some of the "magic" that makes layout and rendering difficult to extend, and provide a set of APIs that enable extensibility of the style system for people other than browser vendors.
This would also affect SVG which uses some aspects of CSS but also benefits from CSS extensibility - the text used in graphics and the text used in normal web pages have different requirements. One of the APIs coming out of Houdini lets you access font metrics which is also very handy for precise graphics that use fonts in creative ways. Editor Drafts of the current APIs in scope are here: dev.w3.org/houdini
The Task Force plans to hold face-to-face meetings right before or after CSS WG meetings, as it did for its first meeting in February.
Mobile — Closing the gap with Native
Recent progress in the Web platform, particularly around the application lifecycle foundation (ServiceWorker, Push Notifications) is bringing a lot of renewed interest in the Web as a platform for mobile devices.
As several surveys have confirmed that end-users favor Web apps over their native experience in purchase decisions situation, as well as for news consumption, the continuous work pushed by the Web community to make the Web ever more closely integrated with the underlying device (through e.g. device APIs) is bearing fruit (e.g. Vibration API reaching Recommendation, Battery API in Candidate Recommendation).
The Web and Mobile Interest Group is pushing a more systematic approach in understanding and reviewing the gaps that still prevent developers from embracing the Web in all their developments, through its recently launched API Gap Task force. We expect that work to provide important input to the Application Foundations effort and hope Members can bring more contributors toward that effort.
The recently started work on Automotive and Web of Things presents an opportunity for the Web to demonstrate its unique cross-device and cross-platform abilities.
Privacy and Security
Security and Privacy is a key Application Foundation and both inside and outside W3C there's currently a big focus on web security. Concerns about corporate and governmental surveillance continue to be raised by both Members and the public. We're responding by trying to give web users and developers the tools to protect themselves and their apps from these threats. Some important areas of progress are:
- The Web Application Security WG has published a Candidate Recommendation of Content Security Policy Level 2. The Content Security Policy is already well-implemented across browsers.
- The TAG has recommended the use of TLS (HTTPS).
The aim of such work is ease of use and ability to create more powerful apps. For example, enabling a developer to lock down their app, ensuring the user only gets what was intended and can use web apps with confidence. To this end, additions to the Open Web Platform include:
- Requirements for powerful features, such as TLS (HTTPS) for features such as geolocation.
- Privileged contexts
- Guidance to browser implementers and spec authors about what should be run in a secure context, i.e. normative and non-normative recommendations from the TAG working with the Web Application Security WG.
As part of this work, at the end of 2014 a Workshop on Privacy and User-Centric Controls was held in Berlin, Germany. Participants investigated strategies toward better privacy protection on the Web that are effective and lead to benefits in the near term. This includes discussing basic privacy UI features that will, on the long run, create a user experience that loops with user expectations. We expect certain controls and dashboards in a car. Perhaps we can create a similar clarity for the privacy dashboard of our devices.
The Workshop focused on users: user experience, user behavior and how we can offer controls that provide the necessary transparency of privacy-affecting interactions. Also discussed was how developers can meet users' privacy needs on the Web, including what APIs are necessary for user privacy. A full report with next steps was subsequently published.
- WebAppSec rechartered with expanded scope
- Advances in Content Security Policy, by which webapps can specify their security assumptions and limit active content to those bounds
- New tools to aid sites in upgrading to secure, authenticated communications (HTTPS): Mixed Content, Upgrade Insecure Requests
- Work with the TAG on Privileged Contexts, describing sufficiently secure contexts for execution of powerful features
- Additional new work including Permissions API and Credential Management
- WebCrypto API in Candidate Recommendation
- The Privacy IG (PING) aims to review specs for privacy considerations. Working with the TAG, PING encourages privacy self-reviews as well as assisting WGs more directly. Privacy reviews in the pipeline are:
- Media Capture API
Going forward, we're looking at what the Web platform needs, as we did with the Web Crypto API which standardized a way to do cryptography within the browser. We're trying to see what other components people are trying to build relating to secure messaging and user-to-user communication, and the trust framework and end-to-end encryption.
There's naturally lots of work to do, such as: Secure authentication — incorporating the input from the security workshop.
Web of Things (WoT)
Within a few years there will be a great many more connected devices than people. Gartner and others believe that most of the value will be in the services and not in the devices themselves. Today, we see product silos indicative of an immature market. W3C is seeking to enable open markets of interconnected services based upon open standards for web technologies. There are many application domains across a wide range of industry sectors. Part of the challenge is the differences in how people think depending upon their background, e.g. hardware engineers, communication technology specialists, business people interested in the return on investment, governments interested in open data, web developers and Internet companies familiar with web technologies.
W3C is focusing on the app/service layer above the Internet of Things, and the role of scripting and the associated APIs. We’re working on a Web of Things as virtual objects that abstract away from physical objects, and enable layers of interpretation in combination with other sources of data, thereby combining the IoT with the Web of Data. There are opportunities for web technologies in relation to direct access to sensors and actuators from browsers, gateways between the IoT and the Web, and service platforms in the cloud for scalability or at the network edge, e.g. home hubs. Some key considerations include security, resilience, privacy and accessibility. We want to encourage re-use of vocabularies for service descriptions as basis for discovery, and for data representations as a basis for interoperability.
We held a workshop in Berlin in June 2014, and have now launched a Web of Things Interest Group. This is seeking to forge a shared vision for what new standards are needed, starting with a survey of use cases and practices across a wide range of application domains. We are looking for W3C Member Submissions, and invite companies to join the Interest Group to help drive the work forward. We hope to be able to launch standards track work in W3C working groups late this year.
Web for All
Accessibility guidance for W3C specifications
The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) is developing guidance for addressing accessibility user requirements within W3C specifications, including areas such as mobile, digital publishing, TV and Web, Web of Things, and automotive, to enable Working Groups and Community Groups to more easily get information on how accessibility considerations can be addressed at early stages of specification development.
- An early draft of the Web Technology Accessibility Guidelines (provisional name) is available for a preview.
- WAI is looking for people who have intersecting interests in accessibility and industry areas newly converging with the Web, to help develop use cases and user requirements.
- To specifically support addressing of media accessibility, WAI has been updating Media Accessibility User Requirements.
Specifications supplementing OWP accessibility
WAI has been publishing and updating several specifications to supplement accessibility gaps in the Open Web Platform, including:
- the HTML Image Description Extension which was published as a W3C Recommendation, to address user need for visual equivalents for complex images;
- a first draft of SVG Accessibility API Mappings, to improve accessibility support for charts and diagrams;
- an update of IndieUI Events (for mobile and more) to streamline accessibility development for mobile platforms.
WAI 2020 Framework discussions
WAI held two public “WAI2020 Framework” discussions at the recent CSUN 2015 Conference, seeking input on planning for Web accessibility guidelines needs five to ten years in the future across the combined areas of Web content, applications, browsers, and authoring tools. More discussions are planned during 2015, including at the M-Enabling Conference in DC.
WAI also published a draft of Cognitive Accessibility User Research as a first step towards a gap analysis, then supplemental techniques, which will help WAI more comprehensively address the needs of people with cognitive and learning disabilities in the future.
Implementation support for WAI guidelines
Harmonized uptake of WCAG 2.0 continues in different countries, with a heavy demand for implementation resources. The first two documents are getting a lot of developer interest:
- a first draft of Mobile Accessibility: How WCAG 2.0 and Other W3C/WAI Guidelines Apply to Mobile;
- more WCAG 2.0 Tutorials;
- updates for Techniques for WCAG 2.0 and Understanding WCAG 2.0.
Evaluation and testing
The test harness is completed for the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) 2.0, which is midway through Candidate Recommendation. Additional testers are welcome. Tests are prepared for the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (UAAG) 2.0, which is expected to enter Candidate Recommendation soon.
The ERT WG has published the WCAG-EM Report Tool: Website Accessibility Evaluation Report Generator and a completed updated and revised Web Accessibility Evaluation Tools List. They are also encouraged with the progress of the Automated WCAG Monitoring Community Group, which is exploring ways to standardize automated testing of Web content and application accessibility.
Reviews, discussion and advice for W3C specification developers
The Internationalization Working Group reviewed and discussed comments related to a number of specifications, including HTML5, CSS3 Text, CSS3 Counter Styles, CSS Inline, CSS Ruby, WebVTT, Manifest for web applications, Linked Data Patch Format, Data on the Web Best Practices, and others. A wiki page, Links to text layout and typography information, was created to help coordinate work on layout needs, especially related to Digital Publishing.
The group is also working on documenting other guidelines for spec developers for a wide range of topics, to make it easier to bring internationalization topics to the table at an early stage in the specification development process, and to reduce the dependency on late reviews. A snapshot of the Encoding specification was transitioned to CR. Work continues on developing tests to support the CR phase.
The Working Group published a significant update to the Working Draft of Character Model for the World Wide Web: String Matching and Searching, previously called Character Model for the World Wide Web: Normalization. Aimed at W3C specification developers, the new Working Draft removes much material that was outdated and extends the content into other areas where string matching considerations apply, beyond those of normalization. The group also published an update to Language Tags and Locale Identifiers for the World Wide Web.
The Internationalization Working Group is also prioritising work on a set of guidelines for spec developers. These guidelines draw on previous specification reviews and the knowledge of the i18n WG members to make other Working Group aware at an earlier stage of potential issues for internationalization during the development of their spec. It is hoped that this will significantly improve the awareness of i18n issues across Working Groups, reduce the need for spec change after review by the i18n WG, and improve productivity in the review process.
Better support for the world's scripts
Picking up on the success of Requirements for Japanese Text Layout, work has started on Chinese layout requirements at the Chinese host, supported by the i18n Working Group. A report is available for the workshop held in Beijing. We are hoping to publish a FPWD soon. There is also interest in working on Chinese minority scripts, Uighur, Mongolian and Tibetan. Work is also continuing in the area of Indic layout requirements. A FPWD was published at the end of 2014. The group also published an update to Requirements for Hangul Text Layout and Typography, and is working to renew the commitment of the Korean community for this deliverable.
The i18n WG is also following similar developments related to Latin script typographic requirements in the Digital Publishing Interest Group.
To assure the availability of ITS 2.0 metadata in the whole multilingual content life cycle, the ITS Interest Group is cooperating closely with the OASIS XLIFF TC to foster the adoption of ITS 2.0 within XLIFF 2.0, and to gather feedback and requirements for future work.
With funding from the European commission via the LIDER project, various community groups (BP-MLOD, LD4LT, OntoLex) are discussing technical topics as the basis for combining language technologies (machine translation, cross-lingual search, information extraction etc.) and multilingual linked data sources. The outcome of these discussions will influence W3C standardization work items, esp. the Data on the Web Best Practices Working Group.
The i18n Working Group continues to submit internationalization-related tests to the HTML and CSS test suites, including, for example, tests for bi-directional support in the CSS Writing Modes spec, for HTML5 ruby extensions, and for line breaks and text-transform in the CSS Text spec, and for many features in the CSS Text spec.
Coordination with other bodies
Members of the i18n Working Group participated in the editorial committee of the Unicode Standard, which produced Unicode 7 last year, and is about to publish the beta of Unicode 8. They also track ongoing discussions at the Unicode Consortium, the IETF, and other organizations which affect the internationalization of the Web.
Outreach and education
The group delivers talks and seminars to raise awareness about Multilingual Web and encourage participation in the work at the W3C.
- An updated Working Draft of Predefined Counter Styles, which supports CSS Counter Styles Level 3, was published. It provides content authors with over 120 ready-made templates for counter styles in almost 30 writings systems from around the world.
- The group continues to maintain and add to its collection of articles for content developers, helping them understand and work with internationalization-related features of the Web. See the list of techniques index for authoring HTML and CSS content, which points to resources on a task-by-task basis.
- The 8th MultilingualWeb workshop will be held in Riga, Latvia on 29 April 2015.
The Testing initiative is a source of pride as it continues to make progress with cooperation from WHATWG contributors. As well as contributions from individual developers there are increasing donations of tests from browser vendors and tech giants leading to encouraging growth in the test suite.
The main testing effort continues to be done on GitHub and cleaning up pull requests is a large focus. Testing is a pillar of the Web, along with specifications and implementations, and the W3C test suite is being used by more browser vendors to improve the interoperability of their products.
Further improving the efficiency and speed of the web continues in the Web Performance WG with new ideas being put forward to help developers:
- More timing features to identify bottlenecks in both box model calculation or box model rendering.
- Server timing to accompany the existing client timing. Making such data available cross-origin is one area of work.
There is a growing convergence of the telecommunications and Web industries, which spurs convergence in interests along several of W3C industrial efforts on Web Payments, Automotive and Web of Things. The Web defines this varied landscape and standards in these areas can lower barriers. For operators this could lead to wider adoption of the innovative services that are crucial for their growth.
After the telecommunications breakout session at TPAC 2014, recent activity has included:
- The creation of the Networking Task Force within the Web and Mobile IG, to:
- Make sure requirements are known for the networking layer;
- Help the converging worlds of IT, Web and telecommunications better understand each other;
- Try to establish a roadmap for the future;
- Evolve the combination of Web technology and networks.
- An AC review of the WebRTC charter.
- A presence at Mobile World Congress (Barcelona) to meet with Members and non-Members.
- Of particular interest to mobile operators are the launches of the Web Payments IG, Web of Things IG and the Automotive WG
The Networking Task Force in particular is trying to smooth transitions and current trends, such as:
- Re-using cloud technology in the telecommunication space;
- Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) and Software-Defined Networking (SDN);
- Putting telephonic infrastructure in the cloud (e.g. routing, business logic);
- NFV & WebRTC, including the need for WebRTC to scale up and use the elasticity of the cloud to meet variable demand.
The telecommunications industry is also fed by other industries, perhaps more than any other vertical. There is considerable interest in Entertainment (TV) and Payments, for example, and many pay attention to the work in Automotive or Social. All these efforts build up a critical platform for telecommunication companies so we encourage awareness of activity in other industry verticals.
As in other verticals, security is a big issue for telecommunications operators who follow closely W3C's work on Web Cryptography and the re-chartering of the WG. Members are looking into the suitability of current proposals for SIM cards and hardware tokens used in authentication.
W3C is building the platform for the next generation of in-browser applications by:
- Bringing more hardware and mobile-friendly features to the Web:
- NFC, Bluetooth, sensor APIs, etc.
- Making the Web the primary platform for media services:
- Streaming media, second screen, timing and synchronization
- Real-time engagement (incoming calls, messages) via Push Notification API
Refocusing the Interest Group
The Group has been focusing its main activities into a set of task forces: Layout & Styling, Metadata, Content & Markup, Accessibility, STEM, Identifiers. Some of the task forces focus on gathering and communicating digital publishing requirements to other W3C Groups and some are developing requirements for new work. The task force on use cases and requirements for annotations has completed its work now that the Web Annotations Working Group is chartered and under way. In the case of metadata, the task force has concluded that this specific area may be sufficiently handled by BISG and NISO.
White Paper on EPUB for the Web
The white paper "Portable Documents for the Open Web Platform: EPUB-WEB" was published to promote EPUB-WEB as the format for portable documents for the Web.
The newly-formed Web Annotations Working Group released a First Public Working Draft of a Web Annotation Data Model specification. This specification describes a structured model and format to enable annotations to be shared and reused across different hardware and software platforms. Common use cases can be modeled in a manner that is simple and convenient, while at the same time enabling more complex requirements, including linking arbitrary content to a particular data point or to segments of timed multimedia resources.
The specification provides both a conceptual model that accommodates these use cases, and the vocabulary of terms that represents it. A specific JSON format is recommended for ease of creation and consumption of the annotations.
Continue the liaison with IDPF
IDPF and W3C have mutually joined each other's organization as regular members. The IDPF Board has discussed a proposal for a "consortium membership" option to permit IDPF members who were involved in the EPUB3 work to be able to engage with a future W3C Working Group. IDPF may choose to pursue such a program in mid 2015 when their current priorities for EPUB3 releases have been completed.
Digital publishing ontology
BISG and CNI have been working on ontology and we believe W3C should support the work there for now. If W3C should create a new category of group for standards-track work on vocabularies and ontologies we can consider what value we would then add to the BISG/CNI efforts.
Next version of EPUB IG
Following IG discussions on requirements related to EPUB-WEB, as well as the outcome of various task forces, we are targeting May-June to have a draft charter to, eventually, replace the charter of the current DPUB IG (whose charter expires in autumn 2015).
TV and Entertainment
As priorities are shifting, so the focus of TV-related work in W3C has shifted. Based on gap analysis by the Web and TV Interest Group and input from members and prospects, current work can be mapped to the following areas:
Multi-screen content delivery
After TPAC 2014 the Second Screen Presentation CG completed its transition to a Working Group with an updated and prioritized list of issues. A First Public Working Draft has been published with, most recently, messaging algorithms being added to the specification, which are modelled after WebSockets behavior.
The Working Group will continue on the standardization track while the Community Group will stay open as an incubator for new features to potentially be added to a future version of the spec.
A Multi-device Timing Community Group has been set up and is now welcoming use cases and discussion topics. A multi-device timing mechanism would allow timed operations across Web pages hosted by different devices, and is particularly important for the broadcasting industry, as it is the key enabler for web-based secondary device offerings. A charter is available.
The TV Control API Community Group is gaining momentum and getting input from a wider variety of participants, including from other standards organizations. The Editor's Draft on GitHub was initially created as a clone of the Mozilla TV Manager specification but is being edited and customized in order to become a global Web standard.
The group is currently looking at how it can reference and re-use existing W3C specs, for example Media Capture for recording capabilities. Now is a good time to get involved as we're starting to see interest from large companies and there is plenty of opportunity to influence the spec details and features.
Complete media production chain
GGIE (Glass to Glass Internet Ecosystem) is a recently-created Task Force within the Web and TV IG with the aim of looking at the whole production chain of media — from the glass of the camera to the glass of the viewer's screen.
The group is in its early stage and is gathering use cases, which are currently:
- User Content Discovery/Search/EPG/Media Library
- Viewing Use Cases
- Content Identification & Measurement Use Cases
- Network Location and Access Use Cases
There's been considerable interest in this Task Force and a face-to-face meeting is being planned for some time after the AC meeting.
In February the second version of Timed Text Markup Language (TTML2) was published as a Working Draft. Following a lot of past discussion, the first Working Draft of the WebVTT specification was also published in November.
Browser vendors are adopting WebVTT but more public implementations are needed as are test suites and we'd like to get reviews of WebVTT from other groups to help move forward.
Connected cars have been gaining momentum and interest around the world and beyond the traditional automotive industry. Silicon Valley giants have introduced car initiatives, as have Chinese tech companies by both collaborating with auto makers as well as buying and creating auto-related apps.
There's a growing belief that all stakeholders need to evolve in this fast-moving space to make the most of customer relationships and possible partnerships. There's tremendous potential - the Web can provide a foundation for these opportunities and W3C is the right place for that standardization.
- W3C is the standards body for the web.
- We've already solved some of the problems the auto industry is facing in other industry verticals, for example Entertainment and Mobile.
- We already tackle accessibility, privacy and security issues.
- There's a wealth of experience from the diverse Membership that can benefit the Automotive vertical.
- Most recently an Automotive WG was established after AC approval. Initial deliverables will be:
- The Automotive and Web Platform BG will continue as an incubator for potential work areas.
- The Automotive WG held its first face-to-face in Stuttgart, Germany on 23-24 April.
Exciting news for W3C was the Open Social Foundation transferring all their assets to us — the foundation was dissolved and their API incorporated into W3C.
Also of note is in-progress work on Activity Streams and Social API specifications, both published by the Social Web WG as Working Drafts.
The Social IG welcomed Ann Bassetti as chair and is reaching out to Members and non-Members to discuss the needs of social platforms. The Social IG is in the development stage so getting a global perspective on what goes into an API is valuable, and the IG welcomes all input and ideas.
ECommerce is thriving and continues to expand. However fragmentation of payment systems is limiting the potential, as are problems such as fraud and usability.
Because the Web is ubiquitous, strengthening support for payments has the potential to create new opportunities for businesses and consumers. Mobile Web payments could also make traditional "in person" transactions more secure and convenient. Although we are seeing innovation in mobile payment systems, the lack of standards makes it more difficult to adapt to new payment approaches or integrate new payment providers. Fragmented regulatory environments further complicate the payments landscape.
To achieve greater interoperability among merchants, payment providers, customers, software vendors, and payment networks, the W3C Web Payments Interest Group, launched in October 2014, is developing a roadmap for standards to improve the interoperability of payments on the Web.
Progress since TPAC 2014
In mid-April the Interest Group released its first publication — a first draft of Web Payments Use Cases. Guided by these use cases, the group plans to derive architecture and associated technology requirements to integrate payments into the Open Web Platform. That work will form the basis of conversations with W3C groups and the broader payments industry about what standards (from W3C or other organizations) will be necessary to fulfill the use cases and make payments over the Web easier and more secure.
The group has set out a number of goals and described the benefits of Open Web Standards for payments for various audiences. The group has created task forces to focus on these areas:
- Use cases. The Interest Group wishes to define a scope of what it means to them (at a particular point in time) to improve payments on the Web. The IG will establish that scope through a list of stories that briefly describe scenarios at various times of diverse transactions.
- Architecture and requirements. The group will then seek to describe an open architecture so that software can communicate in the service of different parties in a transaction. The group has already begun discussion of what is likely to be the central element of the architecture, called a payment agent. The architecture document will describe functional blocks that, together, support the use cases.
- External reviews. There are many existing technologies, standards, and bodies with which a Web payments infrastructure must interoperate.
- Security. This task force is the liaison with W3C and relevant industry groups in the area of security. The group will help determine what new work is required within the W3C, or will be better left to other organizations.
- Value Web / Web Settlement. Today's payment networks are disconnected like the documentation systems that the Web sought to connect. This task force explores how the web can connect new and existing value networks and enable cross-network clearing and settlement that is secure, low-cost, and fast. The central question will be how standardization could make web payment mechanisms more interoperable, accessible and competitive.
- Glossary. In order to interoperate with existing standards and models in the payments industry, it is important that we build a shared understanding of terms. We recognize that there will be a spectrum of terms, and that we may wish to use more technical terms in some context and less technical terms in others. The glossary will be the place where meanings come together, and the glossary will be shared across resources.
- Communications Strategy. This task force will develop messaging and communications plans to share the group's work with a variety of stakeholders. The work of the group has been featured in "The Banker" (a publication of the Financial Times) and "The Nilson Report".
A number of organizations have joined W3C and the IG since TPAC 2014, including: Alibaba, Apple, Intel, C-DAC, NIC.br, Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI), Google, Groupe BPCE, GSMA, IBM, Merchant Advisory Group, Oracle, Ripple Labs, SK Telecom, Target, Worldpay.
Next Six Months
The group would like to publish a roadmap in Q3 that describes where we are in fulfilling the requirements, who is responsible for fulfilling (e.g., existing w3c group, proposed new W3C group, or external organization), and on what schedule. The group also plans to next meet face-to-face mid-June at the Bloomberg offices in New York.
There is interest in a digital marketing workshop which is under discussion. More information on this should be available soon.
There's currently a big focus on working out what the Open Web Platform needs from a marketing perspective. How can marketers and marketing companies insert or add content securely and at the same time benefit from the new features the platform is getting. This includes upgrading to the enhanced security that many publishers want to offer.
We need to bring people into these discussions because of so much happening in this space. As well as browser and publisher representatives, advertisers should also be part of this conversation.
W3C in the World
The Web is impacting all industries and more and more skilled people are needed to develop Web sites and Web applications using the latest available Web standards. In the US, President Obama brought attention to the need for technical skills and training in a speech recently. W3C is doing its part to address this need worldwide.
To expand training opportunities for developers, W3C has launched a partnership with edX, one of the world's leading online course platforms. The announcement at the end of March and subsequent promotion have led to thousands signing up for the first course on HTML5 which will start in June, 2015. It will focus on Web design fundamentals at an intermediate level and is taught by Michel Buffa, Professor at the University of Côte d'Azur (UFR Sciences). See Professor Buffa’s video introduction and read the course description for more information.
Under the name of W3Cx, the W3C will continue to develop a number of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), helping developers across the globe to learn more about core Web technologies and improve their skills, as well as allowing W3C to showcase its authority and expertise.
Courses are offered in multiple languages (English, Japanese, Spanish) and after each course, the student receives a certificate of course completion and a badge. Using Mozilla’s Open Badges infrastructure, W3DevCampus issues badges backed by our own seal of approval. This is very appealing to developers.
Internet Ecosystem and Liaisons
W3C engages in dozens of liaisons with standards bodies and other organizations to coordinate work and share our long-term vision for the Web. These contacts also make it easier for new stakeholders to discover and participate in W3C.
ISO/IEC, JTC 1 PAS
MathML 3.0 was transposed into ISO/IEC DIS 40314 in March 2015, see our Explanary Report.
We're starting a new formal liaison with ISO TC68 SC7 on Finance for our new Web Payments activity.
EC ICT standardization platform
W3C is still very active in the definition of the EC ICT standardization Rolling Plan, listing technical areas for which new standards are needed to achieve upcoming EU Policy objectives (e.g., privacy, accessibility, smart cities, etc.). This work is about standard work items that the commission will need ICT SDOs to deliver in the future (and therefore will be ready to fund more easily).
We're also active in the EU Concertation framework, through our HTML5Apps EU project, to facilitate the transfer of Research projects in our Open Web Platform pre-standardization activities.
Internet Governance / ICANN / NetMundial
Wendy Seltzer and Daniel Dardailler were named representatives of W3C on the ICANN Technical Liaison Group.
On 24 December 2014, the Inaugural Coordination Council of the NetMundial Initiative (NMI) was announced. Jean-François Abramatic, former W3C Chairman and currently W3C Fellow seconded by Inria was selected to be part of the Council. See the W3C and NMI FAQ and the new blog category we created for Internet Governance.
We're planning a joint W3C-IETF leadership meeting end of October 2015, between the Sapporo TPAC and Yokohama IETF, both in Japan.
Future of Web Standardization
W3C is always trying to improve how W3C operates and how we produce standards related to the Web. With HTML5 behind us now, we're looking at how we can reduce the friction of standardization while maintaining a healthy web platform ecosystem. This includes successfully incubating new efforts, improving interoperability, or getting W3C better to use data to identify and address real problems.
Previously we announced a Webizen proposal to allow individuals to affiliate with the W3C community for a fee. This was discussed extensively both officially and in the corridors at the last AC meeting. Since then, other activities have been proposed that mean the scope of a Webizen or similar proposal should be re-addressed. These potential changes and plans will be discussed at the AC meeting in Paris in May.
Advisory Board (AB)
Task Forces updates
Progress has been made on some of the AB's 2014-2015 priorities as follows:
- Identify work not destined for success
- Analysis was done on data from the Working Groups database and the mailing list archives. Four groups were identified as scoring low on multiple criteria.
- There is a need to define "success" and "failure" and what metrics will be used to determine them.
- Identify the most important priorities for the Web and W3C
- A methodology and approach have been decided on and documented, starting with an analysis of Application Foundations:
- A more complete inventory of each Foundation
- Mapping to native platforms
- Broader view of the Application Foundations framework and dependency mapping
- Outreach to developers
- A methodology and approach have been decided on and documented, starting with an analysis of Application Foundations:
- W3C synchronization and consistency
- The group identified the following problems and issues to address and/or make recommendations on how to address them:
- How to make sure the work going on in W3C is correctly propagated across W3C stakeholders (WG contributors, chairs, editors, W3C domain leaders, W3C members, the public)
- How to make sure the Horizontal Groups are pro-actively reviewing specs with respect to their technical domain
- Which blocker can we identify in the information from specification to public (going through the different stakeholders)
- The group identified the following problems and issues to address and/or make recommendations on how to address them:
- Best practices to support multilingual W3C
- Several suggestions have been proposed and discussed, including:
- Call for questions/comments to multilingual participants prior to major meetings (in particular AC/TPAC). Publish them for anyone to answer.
- More detailed descriptions for agenda items of major meetings (in particular AC/TPAC).
- Simple English summary of any important topics after major meetings, for instance policy discussions, process changes, etc.
- Non-English breakout sessions during AC/TPAC.
- Anonymous question page for AC reps to ask things they may be too shy to ask in person.
- Extend the buddy program beyond AC/TPAC so new AC reps have someone specific to ask for help, e.g. during their first year.
- Several suggestions have been proposed and discussed, including:
The next face-to-face meeting of the AB will be 4-5 May 2015 in Paris, just before the AC Meeting. Most recently the AB met in February in Tokyo, spending some time with a few local AC reps as well. A summary of the Tokyo meeting and links to the full minutes was sent to AC reps, but some of the topics discussed were:
- HTML Plan
- Delegation of formal objections
- TAG election analysis
- Liaisons, further discussion about NMI
- Tools, GitHub, dashboards, experimentation, publishing
- Involving developers (Specifiction, Webizen)
- Process 2015
- Recording lunch discussion on review of Edited Recommendations
- Charter Expiration (Resolution on advice from AB)
- Invited Expert Agreement
Technical Architecture Group (TAG)
- Together with the Web Applications WG, a First Public Working Draft of the Packaging on the Web specification was published. For users to have installable applications built with web technologies, applications must be self-contained packages of resources that can be tested and signed. This specification describes a new format for packages which does not have the drawbacks of zip files and other existing package formats.
- A Securing the Web approved finding was announced to document the TAG’s position on securing the Web through the use of cryptography, to identify some of the associated issues, and to recommend further work to aid in its use.
- Further updates were made to the "Writing Promise-Using Specifications" guide, which aims to give guidance on how to write specifications that create, accept, or manipulate promises. It also includes a series of prose shorthands that can be used specification to work with promises. This may become a TAG finding.
- Also updated was the Extensible Web Report Card, for example with Service Worker, Push API, etc. This easy-to-read reference guide shows the state of various web technologies within the extensible Web and how well they "play with others" and adhere to the Extensible Web Manifesto.
- A developer-focused "Meet the TAG" event was held as part of the TAG's 3-day face-to-face meeting in New York in January. Minutes and other materials from the meeting are available on GitHub.
- More recently, the TAG organized the next in the series of Extensible Web Summits on 20 April. This uses an "unconference" format with a few curated lightning talks — a format which is proving popular with attendees. Following that the TAG held their latest face-to-face meeting on 21-25 April 2015 in San Francisco.
Publishing HTML5 as a Recommendation was a watershed moment for W3C and the Web. Building on that achievement is important to lead the Web to its full potential and much work is already under way to do that. The introduction of Community Groups back in 2011 has proven very successful with over 5,000 participants and over 200 groups created. That is leading to further ways for the community to participate and ongoing discussion about modern tools and collaborative techniques. Underpinning this are new ways of thinking about process and licensing that are at the core of the W3C's standardization efforts. Exciting changes are underfoot and now is the time not just to be aware of them but to be involved and influence the Web's future.
Appendix: Group Details
To learn more about recent achievements and upcoming work of all W3C Working and Interest Groups, we have prepared updates for all Activities. The Community Groups and Business Groups site provides access to the activities of those groups.
- Digital Publishing
- Mobile Web Initiative
- Multimodal Interaction
- Patent Policy
- Rich Web Client
- Ubiquitous Web Applications