This public report was first prepared for the W3C Advisory Committee Meeting, part of TPAC 2016. See the accompanying W3C Fact Sheet — September 2016. For the previous edition, see the March 2016 W3C highlights. For future editions of this report, please consult the latest version.
A few months ago, we highlighted W3C's particular focus on Web Security and putting the future of the Web on the track of the future of Industry. Our top-level messages this time around are:
Last but not least, W3C embarked on an internal functional reorganization that better accords with the nature of today’s Web and the expectations of its diverse users, developers, and implementers.
W3C continues to steer and build Web technologies where they impact industries. Digital Publishing was one of the first fields to be addressed under the banner of a vertical industry, embracing the industry transformation that the Web offers through integrated experiences across devices.
The Web encapsulates all that civilization needs; and the march of technology continues to be enhanced to meet the new needs. It is the new needs that require everyone's engagement. Digital Publishing is an area W3C has increased focus on this year.
The boundary between digital publications and other Web content is blurring, creating a rich media environment for digital publishing that opens up new possibilities for readers, authors, and publishers. To fully align the publishing industry and core Web technology, the team and the IDPF, having collaborated for many years, are discussing --and since then announced-- W3C and IDPF exploring plans to combine to more quickly advance publishing technologies on the Open Web Platform.
In order to achieve the vision of publishing on the Web, IDPF and W3C have been developing for three years a universal accessible interchange and delivery ecosystem for digital publications, furthering IDPF’s adoption of HTML5 and especially CSS during the development of EPUB 3 which also incorporates SVG and MathML; and collaborated to develop a shared vision of a future PWP, the evolution of EPUB 3. The Digital Publishing Interest Group has just recently published the first draft of a Portable Web Publications Use Cases and Requirements document, that will be a basis of the future evolution of PWP and EPUB. IDPF's work has led to CSS improvements, W3C's work on Web Accessibility is fundamental to the design of accessible electronic publications. W3C will help make EPUB and portable Web publications more visible and credible outside the book publishing industry, while IDPF’s strong connections to the publishing industry will help make the PWP work begun in W3C more relevant and credible for the publishing community. With more of the Web community we will facilitate the broader adoption of the evolution of EPUB 3 as the standard for Web-based portable documents in general.
Read more below.
HTML is on the bleeding edge, with fresh and regular releases; it is being improved without a pause. HTML5 was released in October 2014 and HTML 5.1 is on track to REC in the Fall 2016. In fact, we are finishing HTML 5.1 and starting HTML 5.2, making regular incremental updates to HTML a reality.
In order to achieve this, HTML 5.1 enters Proposed Recommendation in September. This update (changes are noted in the spec itself) improves upon HTML5, makes it more reliable, more readable and understandable, a better match for reality, and easier to use by the Web community.
At the same time, the Web Platform Working Group continues to update the Editor's Draft, and proposed a First Public Working Draft of HTML 5.2. This will probably include some new features, some features that were not interoperable –and so not included in HTML 5.1– and some more bug fixes. This will kick off a program of regular Working Draft releases until HTML 5.2 is ready to be moved to W3C Recommendation sometime in the next year or so.
For substantial new features we prefer development first in a separate, “incubator” group, and drafts to only enter the Working Group where there is sufficient support from various kinds of implementers including browsers, authoring tools, producers of content, and users. The Web Platform Incubator Community Group (WICG) was set up for this purpose.
The Web Platform Working Group is determining how to transition work from the incubator group to the working group, as proposals are maturing. Nothing is really imminent but a few are in the pipeline such as payments, directory upload, viewport API, background sync, as well as a few specs of the CSS Houdini (CSS + TAG) task force.
Read more below.
In addition to developing HTML, and beyond the build-up of exploring a merger in Publishing on the Web, there is excitement on the way the Web Platform and W3C’s interest is expanding: Web Payments, Web of Things, WebRTC, Web security; all getting traction in W3C, converging to lay a cohesive Web Platform. Recently, we've started looking at possibilities around Blockchain (Blockchains and the Web, a W3C Workshop on Distributed Ledgers on the Web, 29–30 June 2016). Find in the Blockchains Workshop report the many topics for possible standardization or incubation, including various aspects of identity and proof-of-existence, as well as smaller blockchain primitives that could increase interoperability across different distributed ledgers.
Earlier this year the W3C Advisory Committee explored candidate areas for the next big thing for the Web. A straw poll yielded:
The publishing community is an important community to engage in W3C. Digital publishing is increasingly impacted by the Web. Publishers need to understand how the technology of the Web is evolving. The Web can benefit from the centuries of expertise in the publishing industry on typography and layout, improving the core Web technologies not only for electronic publications but for all Web content.
Currently one W3C group is dedicated to understanding and documenting the particular needs of the publishing community: the Digital Publishing Interest Group.
The Interest Group aims at continuing the work on and around PWP, CSS related issues, as well as Accessibility. Reinforcing the ties with the publishing community at large, in particular with implementers, tool developers, but also with the scholarly publishing community, remains high on the agenda, as well as outreach activities around the relationships between publishing and the development of Web Technologies.
The International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) is a global standards organization dedicated to the development and promotion of electronic publishing and digital content consumption. IDPF members include publishers, technology firms, other industry associations, and government and educational organizations. IDPF is the developer of the EPUB standard format for interchange and distribution of digital publications.
As announced to Members and subsequently in home page news and a press release the IDPF leadership and W3C leadership are studying the possibility of merging the work of IDPF into W3C. There is near-total synergy between the technical work of the two organizations. IDPF's work is fully dependent on core Open Web Platform technologies; the EPUB 3 standard is based on HTML, CSS, SVG, and MathML. W3C's Web Accessibility work is fundamental to the design of accessible electronic publications. Technical contributions from the publishing community are helping to improve the capabilities of CSS. Publication packaging technology specified especially for EPUB ought to be based on new OWP technologies in scope for the Web Platform Working Group.
Web Annotation is a type of UGC content that refers and links to other Web content (deep linking). This may be a comment on an article, a set of captions on an image or video, a footnote in an eBook, a citation in a scholarly paper, an editorial highlight in a copy-edit workflow, or many other types of referential content. Often, web annotations are published and shared elsewhere than the original content, and may be shared on social media, like Twitter or Facebook, with a link back to the original content.
The W3C Automotive Working Group, based on conversations with other groups at TPAC, took a step back and looked at the architecture for its API and accompanying data spec.
The W3C agenda continues to support important challenges and opportunities that emerge from the telco industry.
E-commerce is growing as a proportion of all commerce. According to Forrester, the web in 2018 will account for 11% of total retail sales, up from 8% in 2013. However, a number of challenges are limiting the potential of E-commerce, such as fraud losses, user expectations in particular with mobile device usage, technology (biometrics, Web of Things, automotive advances, and NFC adoption), regulation.
There are numerous discussions currently at W3C around technology intended to improve payments directly or indirectly.
The mission of the Web Payments Working Group is to make payments easier and more secure on the Web.
The Web Payments IG continues to look for standardization opportunities for W3C and to hold discussions with other organizations.
The Web and TV Interest Group serves as steering committee for the TV and Entertainment activity within W3C. Over the years, it contributed to launch a number of Community Groups and Working Groups including the HTML Media Extensions Working Group, the Second Screen Working Group, the TV Control Working Group, and a few other community groups and task forces. On top of the activities mentioned below, note that the group has discussed at TPAC 2015 the possibility to define a Web profile for TV, and may start work in that area by TPAC 2016.
A number of industry players have announced important investments or initial products in Virtual Reality. What are the new features and improvements needed to make the Web a compelling platform for actual VR development?
W3C is organizing a Web & Virtual Reality workshop on 19-20 October 2016 on the West Coast to look at the intersection of Web and Virtual Reality technologies. Topics of interest include: displaying stereoscopic content, detecting & adapting to characteristics of VR headsets, handling new input methods for VR (gamepad, hand position, …), 3D audio, 3D media synchronization, interoperable formats and codecs for 3D and 360 content, bringing VR as progressive enhancement to classic Web browsing, etc.
The industry and the Consortium choice is to enhance HTML to be capable of playing video content without the help of plug-in video players, streaming technologies over HTTP such as Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (DASH) has rapidly emerged in the industry. W3C took to develop two HTML5 extensions to enable UAs to play such streams.
These extensions are essential to meet the industry requirements for video content delivery on the Web, by providing Web apps with more flexible control over video content, which enable advanced services such as dynamic ad-insertion.
HTML Media, core media features of Web platform, is developed in the HTML Media Extensions Working Group. It is working on providing control over playback of encrypted content.
The Cloud Browser TF, subset of the Web and TV Interest Group, discusses support for web browser technology within devices such as HDMI dongles and lightweight STBs.
New cloud browser Runtime Environments (RTEs) require the definition of APIs that would enable communication between the cloud browser and the client.
Thanks to the international and interdependent standards developed by global organizations including W3C, IETF, IEEE, CEA, SMPTE, MPEG, etc. the Internet-based or Web-based video content delivery services are expanding in the entertainment content market. Because of the distributed and sometime ad-hoc nature of the efforts, there is a need to go back to use cases: capture existing use cases, analyze them, and enhance them to further develop new standards for better services.
The GGIF TF, subset of the Web and TV Interest Group, discusses the end to end Internet digital video ecosystem, focusing on all phases of the video life cycle: Capture-Edit-Package-Distribute-Find-Watch for both professional and non-professional digital video, and will identify recommended standards and features that could be developed.
Web content is available on an ever expanding array of devices including eBook readers, phones, tablets, laptops, auto displays, and electronic billboards, and there are a variety of mechanisms that allow these devices to use secondary display screens available in the local environment, attached by wired connections or remotely with wireless, peer-to-peer media. However, in most cases, lower layers such as OS provide those connection mechanisms, which Web apps, consequently, have no access and control over. Web apps should be capable of implementing services which cover scenarios such as using a big screen device to watch a movie selected on and streamed from a smartphone are getting more common as OTT services like Netflix emerge.
The Second Screen Working Group aims at defining simple APIs that allow web applications to show and control web content on one or more secondary displays.
The TV Control Working Group was launched in May 2016 to develop an API that would allow Web apps to access radio/TV tuners and other broadcasting resources. The WG takes of the work done by the TV Control API Community Group since 2014.
In 2015, The Web and TV IG launched the Multi-device Timing Community Group to create a draft specification that defines a common, multi-device, timing mechanism and a practical programming model e.g. to allow Web apps to synchronize the playback of multiple streams on multiple devices. Timing mechanisms allow operations to be executed at the correct time. On the Web, different specs use different synchronization mechanisms, and there is no support for multi-device timing.
The Web Platform Working Group is on track to deliver a Recommendation for HTML 5.1 (HTML on GitHub) this year, with a working approach that will make it possible to deliver a further improved HTML Recommendation (HTML 5.2) in another year. The Group closed more issues than it opened, and now has a working rhythm for the specification that is getting up to the speed it wants. There are a few features marked “at risk”, which means they will be removed from HTML5.1 if the Group find during the Candidate Recommendation that they do not work in at least two shipping browsers. The Web Platform WG hopes that HTML5.1 is better than HTML5, and that it would benefit the web community if we updated the “gold standard”. The work on HTML 5.2 already started and includes features such as module scripts.
The work on Web components (Custom Elements, Shadow DOM) is progressing and getting broader deployment in implementations. This brings us closer to a reality when developers will be able to provide their own custom HTML elements, as components.
We are also ensuring that Web applications are able to be behave like real applications and be more reliable. The Core of this work happens around the Service Workers effort, to enable offline support, application lifecycles (such as install, update), and background tasks (offline notification). This allows the application to install properly and ensure from the start that the needed resources are available offline. The first version of Service Workers is expected to reach Candidate Recommendation in late September.
The Web Platform Working Group is also producing several specifications (Status) that enable improved client-side application development on the Web, including application programming interfaces (APIs) for client-side development and markup vocabularies for describing and controlling client-side application behavior.
The CSS Working Group is continuing its refinement and progress of the CSS language. The group recently moved both test suite maintenance and specification bugtracking to GitHub issues, which is expected to encourage wider participation.
Since the late 90s, the Consortium identified the need for proper online media captioning. The Timed Text Working Group is developing and maintaining formats used for the representation of text synchronized with other timed media, like audio and video. This work, begun in WAI, enables online captioning, which is critically important to ensure accessibility of TV and video on the web for people who are deaf and hard of hearing. In recent years with the convergence of traditional media and the Web, more video content from television is coming to the Web, and the Web is now running on televisions. TTML helps to bridge these worlds.
Everyone would agree that it's better to have a Web that is fast rather than slow. In the Web Performance Working Group, we work on methods to observe and improve aspects of application performance of user agent features and APIs. We expect to publish the first version of the Resource Timing specification by September 2016 (Resource Timing on GitHub). It captures the end to end latency associated with loading resources from a web server.
Work has also been ongoing on defining primitives that enable the developer, and the server generating or delivering the resources, to assist the user agent in the decision process of which origins it should connect to, and which resources it should fetch and pre-process to improve page performance (Resource Hints on GitHub).
Perhaps the biggest news about our Testing effort is that there is a plan to soon merge the CSS test suite into our core Web Platform Tests test suite.
With that merge, here are some current data points about the Web Platform Tests test suite:
Note that we have in practice basically retired the Test the Web Forward brand that had been associated with our testing effort in the past and helped get some momentum going behind it in earlier years. While the testthewebforward.org/ website continues to exist for now, it may eventually be mothballed (which would amount in the near term to having it just become a redirect either to web-platform-tests or to a new URL under just the Web Platform Tests brand).
Our testing effort centers on creating a set of test cases, Web Platform Tests, with coverage for every standard feature of the Web runtime, for these purposes:
Interoperability of standard features of the Web runtime across all browser engines ensures that Web developers can create Web content using those standard features without needing to write multiple code paths or hacks to work around browser differences.
The fundamental line of trust on the Web is between the end-user and the Web application: individuals who visit a website rely on HTTPS to trust that they are getting the page or application put there by the site owner. Features of Web Application Security are designed to support that trust, protecting against cross-site scripting and content-injection attacks or unwanted snooping on Web traffic. If a Web application includes resources from third parties, however, it may effectively delegate its trust to all of those included resources, any of which could maliciously or carelessly compromise the overall security of the Web application and data shared with it.
Subresource Integrity (SRI), which just reached W3C Recommendation status, offers a way to include resources without that open-ended delegation. It lets browsers, as user-agents, cryptographically verify that the integrity of included subresources such as scripts and styles, matches as-delivered what was expected by the requesting application.
There are huge business and societal opportunities for the Internet of Things (IoT), but this is being held back by fragmentation with a confusing set of non-interoperable platforms, standards and technologies. Without care any new standards would just add to the fragmentation.
The key to overcoming the fragmentation of the IoT and catalyzing exponential growth in services will be enabling end to end interoperability across different platforms. This requires open standards for metadata that defines the data and interaction models exposed to applications, the protocols and communication patterns that can be used, the security and privacy policies, and descriptions of the kinds of things that are involved and the relationships between them. In short, to enable a Web of Things, and to expand the Web from a web of pages to a web of things.
The Web of Things Interest Group is preparing the way with work on use cases, and requirements, technology landscape studies, and emphasis on implementation experience.
Things have URIs for their names, which can be de-referenced to access metadata describing a thing. The formal basis for this metadata is W3C's resource description framework (RDF), but the syntax can vary according to the context, e.g. JSON, XML, and other formats. By analogy with the cross platform API for Internet sockets, we see a need for a cross platform API for things. This builds upon the success of event driven programming by treating things in terms of their properties, actions and events.
Many projects and companies are looking at ways to use the Bitcoin blockchain or other public or private distributed ledgers, to record an immutable time-stamped public record that can be independently verified by any stakeholder.
It's unclear how these blockchains will need to interact with each other in the future to prove its benefits. But there’s consensus that some standards are needed to promote competition while eliminating redundancies. W3C held on 29–30 June 2016 Blockchains and the Web, a W3C Workshop on Distributed Ledgers on the Web.
High-level take away from the workshop:
More and more Web applications provide a means of accessing data. From simple visualizations to sophisticated interactive tools, there is a growing reliance on the availability of data which can be “big” or “small”, of diverse origin, and in different formats; it is usually published without prior coordination with other publishers — let alone with precise modeling or common vocabularies. This diversity is overcome by providing standard data exchange formats, models, tools, and guidance, which facilitates Web-scale data integration and processing.
Data and its usage should be discoverable and understandable by
humans and machines. To facilitate interaction between publishers and
consumers of Data, the Data
on the Web Best Practices Working Group published a Candidate
Recommendation of Data
on the Web Best Practices. The DWBP WG is actively
soliciting implementations from the community.
The closely related Share-PSI project, co-funded by the European Commission, has concluded its work recently with the publication of a set of high level policy-related Best Practices and guides for the sharing of public sector information online. Although targeted at Europe, the advice, which is available in many languages and contexts, is likely to be applicable world wide.
W3C launched in February the Permissions and Obligations Expression WG to create recommendations for expressing permissions and obligations statements for digital content. Leveraging the work incubated in the ODRL W3C Community Group, the group has released Use-Cases and Requirements and is working on the ODRL Information Model and ODRL Vocabulary & Expression.
W3C will hold Smart Descriptions & Smarter Vocabularies (SDSVoc) Workshop, 30 November – 1 December 2016, in Amsterdam, hosted by CWI and organized in conjunction with the EU funded project VRE4EIC.
This workshop aims to clarify the steps needed to improve communication between data repositories and applications that use that data, such as virtual research environments. Applications may simply discover data or visualize it, manipulate it, discuss it, correct it, describe it, republish it, etc. The outcome may be a new W3C Working Group chartered to extend DCAT and determine how human and machine-readable metadata profiles are defined and made discoverable. A further aim is to explore how W3C can best support vocabulary development for a variety of communities.
Fewer than one third of current Web users speak English as their native language and that proportion will continue to decrease as the Web reaches more and more communities of limited English proficiency. If the Web is to live up to the "World Wide" portion of its name, it must support the needs of world-wide users at a basic level as they engage with content in the various languages.
The W3C Internationalization activities pursue this goal in various ways, including reviews, discussion and advice for Working Groups at the W3C, coordination with other organizations, creation of educational materials, gathering user requirements, and technical work itself on various topics. In this period the Internationalization Working Group, Internationalization Interest Group and Internationalization Tag Set Interest Group had their charter renewed.
Groups associated with the Internationalization Activity are also involved in documenting requirements for support of non-Latin scripts. These include Arabic, Ethiopic, Indic, Chinese and Mongolian. See a list of current activity.
WAI continues to monitor uptake of accessibility guidelines by a variety of organizations around the world, and to promote harmonization of accessibility standards in order to leverage the efficiency of using a common web accessibility standard worldwide, including re-usable testing and training resources.
W3C is involved in liaisons and coordination with numerous organizations and SDOs to:
In order to better support the W3C Membership in creating new Recommendations, the W3C Team will operate, starting September 26, 2016, under an organization model that better accords with the nature of today's Web and the expectations of its diverse users, developers, and implementers. The new functional structure affects neither the role of the Director, nor how W3C creates new Recommendations, nor the W3C Process. The role of Team Contacts won't change, and one purpose of the re-org is to help them do their jobs better. We expect transition time to be as smooth and transparent as possible.
Indeed, to lead the Web to its full potential today requires a flexible team organized to interact with a complex ecosystem of technologies, stakeholders, and industries. It requires well-researched strategy development, rigorous project management, and careful architectural coordination. The reorganization sustains and improves the existing unique strengths of W3C as a standards organization but places more focus on agile strategy development, excellence in execution, and coherence of the Web architecture.
Some of the improvements this new structure will achieve and the new leadership roles assigned are described in-depth in 2016 W3C Internal Reorganization.
Lead: Wendy Seltzer.
To be on top of the complex and fast-evolving Web, Strategy Management has primary responsibility to ensure that we are working on the correct topics, get started in new areas, and prioritize resources to where they are needed.
Lead: Philippe Le Hégaret.
To move again at Web-speed and to meet the platform where it will be, Project Management has primary responsibility to ensure that we deliver the specifications that are needed in a timely fashion, supporting and driving groups, chairs and editors to success.
Lead: Ralph Swick (also continuing as COO).
To directly support the Director, advise on and drive cohesive technical design, coordinate horizontal review, Architecture & Technology Management ensures that the collection of specifications works well together to provide an overall architecture for the web. Success in identifying and completing topics increasingly depends on strengthening our relationships with our Members. These relationships enable us to understand Member needs and gain their full participation.
Lead: Philipp Hoschka.
To reinforce visions, identify new requirements for groups and new products with Strategy Management, Industry Management focuses on Industry needs, engages and liaises with the standards organizations of those industries.
Lead: Angel Li (also continuing as Beihang Site Manager).
Global Participation Management focuses on the essential task of increasing excellent Member activity in our groups and overcoming language, culture and time zone issues.
Lead: Veronica Thom (also continuing as CFO).
Member Satisfaction Management ensures that Members are satisfied with W3C and have channels to recommend improvement.
Lead: Dominique Hazaël-Massieux (also continuing as Web and Mobile Devices Lead).
Community Management ensures that we are working with key developers both inside and outside of our Membership.
Various Leads will be assisted by specialists who, in the case of strategy and Architecture & Technology, restore some of the technical area focus previously provided by the Domains.
Business Development is reshaped slightly to maximize and bring in new revenue.
The Web Accessibility Initiative is a long-time publicly visible brand of W3C, and will be kept as a brand and as an Initiative, led by the WAI Director. As reflected in the WAI Sponsorship description, the Initiative ensures a cohesive package of accessibility work to enable partnering of multiple stakeholder groups within the W3C structure, to address coordinated aspects of technical, educational, and standards harmonization work. However, whereas in the past the work was mostly managed by a single Domain, accessibility work is now distributed across the new functions (primarily Strategy, Project and Architecture & Technology) supported by the WAI specialists and WAI Director, in order to leverage broader commitment to accessibility throughout the organization.
Unchanged from today are Administration and Operations, Marketing & Communications, Systems, Legal.
This is a time of change for the Web. W3C is responding with great changes. The Web community is growing, innovative, agile
Growing Community: As the Publishing community is growing, 'Web = Publishing' is becoming truer and truer, including joint efforts with IDPF to foster the (r)evolution of ebooks and a richer reading and learning experience. The digital economy is growing as well. We continue to give particular attention to the Web of Things and creating the platform that drives more connectivity needs, and enabling the IoT interoperability. Platform cohesion being crucial, Web Security, Internationalization, Web Accessibility remain key components as we expand towards the robust Open Web Platform our civilization is eager for.
Innovative Community: As W3C continues to move forward with Web Payments, Web Real-Time Communications, automotive, Web Security, etc., it explores for standardization opportunities innovative areas like Blockchains and Virtual Reality.
Agile Community: The W3C Team, under the impulsion of the W3C Advisory Board, continues to regularly update and improve its Process Document. Process 2016 will soon be balloted for adoption while the public Revising the W3C Process Community Group is already considering changes for Process 2017. Every once in a great while, the W3C Team undergoes an internal reorganization. In order to better support the W3C Membership in creating new Recommendations and keep up with the nature of today's Web, now is the time to become a fully flexible team organized to interact with technologies, stakeholders, and industries, to harness strategy development, rigorous project management, and careful architectural coordination.