W3C Strategic Highlights
May 2020

This report, dated May 29, 2020, was prepared for the May 2020 Virtual W3C Advisory Committee Meeting (W3C Member link). See the accompanying W3C Fact Sheet — May 2020. For the previous edition, see the September 2019 W3C Strategic Highlights. For future editions of this report, please consult the latest version.

A Chinese, and a Japanese translations are available.


This report highlights recent work of enhancement of the landscape of the Web platform and innovation for its growth and strength. The work accomplished by the W3C Community is a tribute to human engineering that builds on top of the core work done on the Internet, giving us the Web: a tool that has and will continue to accelerate scientific cooperation and discoveries, a social means to bridge families and friends, a way to learn online and grow skills, an instrument to conduct successful business, and much more.

34 working groups and 10 interest groups enable W3C to pursue its mission through the creation of Web standards, guidelines, and supporting materials. We track the tremendous work done across the Consortium –250 specifications– through homogeneous work-spaces in Github which enables better monitoring and management.

Privacy on the Web has become a growing issue, which the Covid-19 pandemic has further exacerbated when a significant fraction of the population moved their work and communications to the Web, in application of the required isolation to stop the spread of the virus.

Covid-19 pandemic

Early in 2020, the world faced one of our biggest challenges to date –a global pandemic of the Covid-19 coronavirus. Respecting the importance of social distancing, W3C prioritized the needs of people first and thus quickly suspended all work-related travel, operating completely remotely to continue the most vital work we do in this community –creating Web standards.

The Web is one of the key infrastructures required for getting through the crisis and our work in enhancing the platform and making it available for everyone is critical. Most projects are continuing although the lack of physical meetings and other considerations are causing some to slow down.

Living Standards

As the Web evolves continuously, groups are looking for ways for specifications to do so as well. So-called "evergreen recommendations" or "living standards" aim, for where that's appropriate, to track continuous development (and maintenance) of features, on a feature-by-feature basis, while getting review and patent commitments.

The W3C Advisory Board, the Revising W3C Process Community Group and the W3C Team have worked on a significant proposed update to the W3C Process Document which introduces changes to allow easier updating of RECs and CRs, to provide a native Living Standards capability of the W3C Recommendation Track, while maintaining the same review and quality requirements that it currently possesses. An in-depth explainer about the changes affecting the Recommendation track is available.

The capability of living standards requires enhancements to the W3C Patent Policy. The W3C Patents and Standards Interest Group (PSIG), working at an accelerated pace and according to the principle of minimal necessary amendments to the existing policy, and endeavoring to secure patent commitments at snapshots of the Candidate Recommendations (Patent Review Drafts), while preserving the Consortium's stable, trusted patent policy, presented a proposed update to the W3C Patent Policy that includes a few open issues.

The review, which is open to the public, ends on May 31. We anticipate sending the revised documents for formal Advisory Committee review and approval in June, aiming they come into effect in July 2020.

Future Web Standards

W3C uses a variety of mechanisms to engage community discussion on good future Web standards. These include conversing with the Membership, liaising with other standards bodies, watching the activities of thousands of participants in over 335 community groups, and hosting W3C Workshops. There are lots of good ideas. The W3C strategy team works to identifying promising topics for standardization and invites public participation.

Workshops bring communities together around presentations, panels, breakouts, and "hallway" sessions to spur collaboration on new work areas. While switching to virtual entails a change in mode and some re-setting of schedules, we envision that distributed meetings can be even more accessible and globally participatory. Upcoming workshops and ideas under consideration include:

Recently completed Workshops

The Strategy Funnel documents the staff's exploration of potential new work at Incubation and Evaluation, and eventually to the chartering of a new standards group. The Funnel view is a GitHub Project where new area are issues represented by “cards” which move through the columns, usually from left to right. Most cards start in Exploration and move towards Chartering, or move out of the funnel.

Public input is welcome at any stage but particularly once Incubation has begun. This helps W3C identify work that is sufficiently incubated to warrant standardization, to review the ecosystem around the work and indicate interest in participating in its standardization, and then to draft a charter that reflects an appropriate scope. Ongoing feedback can speed up the overall standardization process.

Since the previous highlights document, W3C has chartered a number of groups, and started discussion on many more:

Meeting Industry Needs

Web Payments

All Web Payments specifications

W3C's payments standards enable a streamlined checkout process, giving a consistent user experience across the Web with lower front-end development costs for merchants. Users can store and reuse information and more quickly and accurately complete online transactions. Recent progress include:

  • The Web Payments Working Group recently added a Recommendation-track deliverable to facilitate the use of EMVCo Secure Remote Commerce (SRC) through Payment Request API.
  • One of the goals of the group in 2020 is to increase browser support for payment handlers, increase the number of payment handlers available for use with Payment Request API, and merchant adoption of APIs (via their payment service providers).
  • The implementation report shows interoperability between Chrome and Safari implementations of Payment Request API, which will advance to Proposed Recommendation when there is greater merchant adoption.
  • W3C is in the process of launching a Merchant Business Group to address challenges for customer experiences and business needs using Web technologies, where merchants, integrators, platform providers, and others will discuss how emerging Web technologies could help address customer experience challenges, and what additional Web capabilities may be necessary.
  • Creation with the Web Authentication Working Group of a joint task force to help ensure that Web Authentication (today and with new capabilities) can support real-world payments flows.
  • Since the launch a year ago of the Web Payment Security Group two conversations have progressed:
    • Resource explaining how EMVCo, FIDO, and W3C technologies relate.
    • Shared understanding about how changes in browsers regarding fingerprinting and cookies are likely to affect risk analysis protocols such as 3-D Secure from EMVCo, and what technologies are being developed as replacements, aiming to ensure that those technologies can be used by payments industry stakeholders for real-world risk mitigation.

Digital Publishing

All Digital Publishing specificationspublication milestones

The Web is the universal publishing platform. Publishing is increasingly impacted by the Web, and the Web increasingly impacts Publishing.

Topic of particular focus of Publishing@W3C include typography and layout, accessibility, usability, portability, distribution, archiving, offline access, print on demand, and reliable cross referencing. And the diverse publishing community represented in the groups consist of the traditional "trade" publishers, ebook reading system manufacturers, but also publishers of audio books, scholarly journals or educational materials, library scientists or browser developers. Recent progress include:

Securing the future of EPUB and setting new directions for Publishing at W3C will result in the following structural changes:

  • Work in progress in drafting the charter of a new EPUB 3 Working Group, to advance EPUB 3.2 on the W3C Recommendation Track, significantly increase the interoperability of EPUB publications and reading systems. The rigorous W3C process of testing will make a cleaner, clearer, more easily-implemented EPUB 3 specification.
  • Upcoming renaming of the EPUB 3 Community Group as Publishing Community Group to incubate new technical ideas and draft specifications.
  • The Publishing Business Group, having successfully raised funding for the development of a new generation of EPUBCheck, will develop business-cases understanding of proposed technical ideas, work on community expansion, communication, and outreach to ensure that people have a place to share and get information both globally and locally.

Web & Telecommunications

The Web is the Open Platform for Mobile. Telecommunication service providers and network equipment providers have long been critical actors in the deployment of Web technologies. As the Web platform matures, it brings richer and richer capabilities to extend existing services to new users and devices, and propose new and innovative services.

Real-Time Communications (WebRTC)

WebRTC logo

All Real-Time Communications specifications

WebRTC has reshaped the whole communication landscape by making any connected device a potential communication end-point, bringing audio and video communications anywhere, on any network, vastly expanding the ability of operators to reach their customers. WebRTC serves as the corner-stone of many online communication and collaboration services.

The WebRTC Working Group continues its intense efforts toward publishing WebRTC 1.0 (and companion specification Media Capture and Streams) to Recommendation. The initial end-of-2019 schedule has been delayed, but work on interoperability and issue closing has made good progress and hope to get to REC in the upcoming few months.

Meanwhile, the group has published its first version of the identified use cases for expanding WebRTC (aka WebRTC NV) on which the group would focus its efforts once WebRTC 1.0 is finalized, and that will form the basis for the next WebRTC Working Group charter that the group is currently discussing.

Web & Networks

The Web & Networks Interest Group has their first face-to-face meeting at TPAC in September 2019, completed with a series of teleconferences.

The group focuses its attention on two major topics of exploration:

  • the impact of Edge Computing on the Web platform;
  • how to incorporate network quality monitoring and prediction in Web browsers.

Media and Entertainment

All Media specifications

The Media and Entertainment activity tracks and standardizes media-related topics and features needed to create immersive experiences for end users. HTML5, TTML and TTML profiles, WebVTT, brought standard audio, video and captions to the Web. Standardization activities since then turned the Web into a professional platform fully suitable for the delivery of media content and associated materials, enabling missing features to stream video content on the Web such as adaptive streaming and content protection. Current goals are to:

  • Reinforce core media technologies. This goal essentially maps to the Captioning, Media rendering and Second Screen sections below.
  • Reduce fragmentation, described below in the Device Interoperability section.
  • Create the future, captured in the Immersive media and Media distribution sections below.


The Timed Text Working Group continues its work on captioning standards for the Web. After publication of TTML2 and of the TTML Profiles for Internet Media Subtitles and Captions (IMSC) 1.1 standards end of 2018, the group published a Candidate Recommendation of TTML IMSC 1.2 in March 2020. This revision defines a text-only profile and an image-only profile of TTML2. It retains compatibility with TTML IMSC 1.1 on which it builds to reflect contemporary practices, and incorporates extensions specified in SMPTE ST 2052-1:2010 "Timed Text Format (SMPTE-TT)" such as the SMPTE #image extension. By selecting a subset of the features and extensions defined in TTML IMSC 1.2, it is possible to create a TTML IMSC 1.2 document that also conforms to SMPTE2052-1.

The group also started work on a TTML profile intended to support audio description script exchange throughout the workflow including production of the script, rendering as voice by recording or text to speech synthesis, and audio mixing.

In practice, Web browsers directly support WebVTT, not TTML. To implement advanced features that WebVTT does not support, Web media players and applications may choose to render cues on their own using JavaScript. By definition, this means that the resulting captions cannot benefit from integration with the underlying platform, e.g. to apply user style sheets or take part in Picture-in-Picture scenarios. The Media & Entertainment Interest Group tracks early discussions on TextTrackCue enhancements that could pave the way for a generic solution in that field.

Beyond traditional closed captions, a number of video sharing platforms implement a feature known as Bullet Chatting or Danmaku whereby comments and annotations, which may be generated by users in real-time, get overlaid and animated on top of videos at specific points of the media timeline. The Media & Entertainment Interest Group explores possible interoperability requirements and technical gaps in that space.

Rendering of captions in VR/AR scenarios poses unique challenges on the rendering side (where to position these captions in 3D, whether to follow users head movements, how to indicate the source of a caption in a 360° video when the user is currently looking elsewhere) as well as on the distribution side (how to encode these captions interoperably in timed text files). The Immersive Web Community Group is exploring use cases for subtitles in 360° videos and requirements for subtitles and text in WebXR. In parallel, the Immersive Captions Community Group is investigating best practices for access, activation, and display settings for captions with different types of immersive media (AR, VR, Games).

Media rendering

The Media Working Group was created mid-2019 to develop and improve client-side media processing and playback features on the Web. This includes standardization of the following APIs:

  • Media Capabilities to expose information about the decoding and encoding capabilities for a given format but also output capabilities to find the best match based on the device's display. One capability example is the ability to decode and render 4K videos, even when the rest of page may be rendered at a lower resolution (as TV and cast devices often have different planes for rendering video and graphics).
  • Picture-in-Picture to allow websites to create a floating video window always on top of other windows so that users may continue consuming media while they interact with other content sites, or applications on their device.
  • Media Session to show customized media metadata on the platform user interface, customize available platform media controls, and access platform media keys (such as hardware keys found on keyboards, headsets, remote controls, and software keys found in notification areas and on lock screens of mobile devices).

The Media Working Group also develops a revision of the Media Source Extensions specification, notably to add a codec switching feature to improve support for ad insertion scenarios, and of the Encrypted Media Extensions specification, e.g. to add persistent usage record sessions.

Following work on use cases and requirements for Media Timed Events, incubation of a DataCue proposal datacue has started to bring support for timed metadata to the web platform, in particular for MPEG-DASH emsg in-band events.

Second Screen

The Second Screen Working Group started standardization work on the Open Screen Protocol, a suite of network protocols based on QUIC that allows web browsers and devices to implement the Presentation API and the Remote Playback API in an interoperable fashion. The Open Screen Protocol specifically supports browsers and displays that are connected via the same local area network. It allows a browser to present a URL, initiate remote playback of an HTML media element, and stream media data to another device.

Device interoperability

There are complementing ways to reduce device fragmentation. One of them is to make sure that devices converge on a common definition of technologies that compose the Web platform at a point in time. Through the Web Media APIs Community Group, the CTA WAVE Project publishes annual snapshots of Web APIs that are supported across main browser codebases at the time of publication.

The Media & Entertainment Interest Group has also started to gather practical constraints on consumer electronic devices related to the integration of Web media APIs, such as playback behavior when hardware can only decode one video at a time.

Another approach to improving cross-device support in applications is to document and expose differences in capabilities. Media Capabilities and CSS Media Queries are good examples of specifications that expose practical device support for media related features such as codec support, video resolutions, and color spaces. The Web Performance Working Group also develops specifications that expose timing hooks to Web applications, to analyze the time spent doing various tasks. Although not specifically targeted at media scenarios, these specifications (such as Navigation Timing, Resource Timing, User Timing, Server Timing) make it possible to monitor the performance of running applications on actual devices, and thus to measure the quality of experience.

Immersive media

Hardware that enables Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) applications are now broadly available to consumers, offering an immersive computing platform with both new opportunities and challenges. The ability to interact directly with immersive hardware is critical to ensuring that the web is well equipped to operate as a first-class citizen in this environment.

The Immersive Web Working Group has been stabilizing the WebXR Device API. The group split the specification into separately managed modules (core API, AR module, gamepad module) based on the different speed of progress expected for different features. The companion Immersive Web Community Group incubates the next series of features identified as key for the future of the Immersive Web.

W3C held a workshop on Inclusive Design for Immersive Web standards in November 2019 to learn from existing approaches in making XR experiences accessible. The workshop highlighted the following aspects (see full report for details):

  • For visual interactions, the need to standardize semantics for scene and models (e.g. for the glTF format) was identified as a low-hanging fruit, while browsers and 3D engines could provide support for accommodation for low-vision impairments (e.g. high contrast, magnification).
  • For motricity considerations, ensuring the WebXR input mechanism can be applied to accessible controllers and enable accessible re-mappings of default controllers would provide a first level of improvement, while making real-world movement detection accessible is likely to require more substantive standardization work (interaction semantics, users' capabilities and preferences, and development best practices).
  • For auditory aspects, workshop participants reviewed existing research in how to integrate and position accessible accommodations in 3D environments (e.g. sign language interpretation, captions).
  • Participants also reviewed the landscape of Assistive Technologies to understand how current tools can provide support for XR, and agreed that new tools and approaches (e.g. AI) would be needed to bring full XR support, including using Web and XR technologies themselves as the basis for building assistive technologies.

Work on underlying technologies spans various standardization groups and incubation activities in W3C and in the Khronos Group, such as the Immersive Web Working Group, the Timed Text Working Group, or the Khronos glTF Working Group.

3D is at the core of any immersive experience. The GPU for the Web Community Group incubates the WebGPU specification, a more modern API compared to WebGL that exposes the capabilities of GPU hardware for the Web, and efficiently abstracts away common native GPU APIs (Vulkan, Direct3D 12, and Metal).

Media distribution

The Web and Networks Interest Group, created in 2019, explores solutions for web applications to leverage network capabilities (such as new 5G features) in order to achieve better performance and resources allocation. The group is notably exploring network quality monitoring and prediction scenarios to allow web applications to create as smooth a media playback experience as possible.

W3C is also investigating and standardizing solutions to lower media distribution latency below the second. WebRTC is now stable and supported across web browsers, used in most video conferencing systems, and has been successfully applied to stream live media to client devices. Looking forward, the proposed WebTransport API, a Websocket-like API built on top of QUIC, would allow applications to create multiple streams, unidirectional streams, out-of-order delivery and unreliable transport. Coupled with the WebCodecs API proposal to expose media encoders/decoders to Web applications, these technologies may create a new efficient mechanism to stream live media on the Web.

The W3C Team sent an advance notice of work in progress on a WebTransport Working Group charter.

Other media technologies

W3C discusses and standardizes other technologies, directly or indirectly related to media. For instance, the W3C Workshop on Web games (read the report), held in June 2019, explored areas that could also apply to media production and media streaming in realtime scenarios such as low-latency input processing, multi-threading support, etc. The Media Technologies for the Web roadmap lists Web technologies as they can be used to build media applications and services.

The Media & Entertainment Interest Group is the main forum at W3C for media-related technical discussions to track progress of media features on the Web. On top of topics mentioned above, the group has also started to explore use cases and requirements for Media Production on the Web.


All Automotive specifications

W3C Automotive Working Group

The W3C Automotive Working Group is learning from real world experiences from its Vehicle Information Service Specification (VISS), a service in production vehicles now, and being used elsewhere, aiming to create a rich application ecosystem for vehicles.

The standard provides an access method to a common data model for all the signals information available on vehicles, engine temperature, fuel/charge level, range, tire pressure etc. Presently it encapsulates approximately a thousand different data elements and will be growing to accommodate the advances in automotive such as autonomous and driver assist technologies and electrification.

Applications run on the vehicles themselves on the "head unit" (where the car stereo resides) and other devices allowed to connect to the vehicle. Some envision using it in the cloud to provide in-direct access to vehicles.

Leveraging the underlying data model of the VIWI submission from Volkswagen, the group is working on a successor to VISS, as a more robust means of accessing vehicle signals information and the same paradigm for other automotive needs including location-based services, media, notifications and caching content. The group has an early prototype of the as yet unnamed "Gen2" successor.

W3C Automotive and Web Platform Business Group

The Automotive and Web Platform Business Group acts as an incubator for the W3C Automotive activity. It has been focusing on the opportunities and challenges of bringing vehicle information to the cloud and uses once there.

BMW and EURECOM have created an ontology (VSSo) on top of the data model used within the vehicle and besides enabling analytics, it also makes it possible to represent the vehicle as a thing within the W3C Web of Things (WoT) realm and proof of concept demos have been made in various venues. EURECOM has agreed to bring VSSo to the W3C Auto BG.

The Business Group has formed liaisons with the following groups:

  • ISO TC204 Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS),
  • ISO TC211 Geospatial,
  • ISO TC22 SC31 Extended Vehicle,
  • Open Geospatial Consortium,
  • W3C Spatial Data on the Web Interest Group
  • ISO JTC1 WG11 SmartCities (to collaborate with its data architects).

Having formed a data-first approach to figure out what information is a major component within the broader transportation, the Business Group will be renamed and relaunched to reflect a wider view: W3C Automotive and Transportation Business Group. The group will focus on coordination on transportation ontologies, building on the vehicle signal ontology. The group will also work on best practices for in-vehicle applications, keeping a close eye on the Miniapps Community Group and create a showcase graph server demonstrating real world questions that can be answered with this vehicle data.

Web of Things

WoT logo

All Web of Things specifications

W3C's Web of Things work is designed to bridge disparate technology stacks to allow devices to work together and achieve scale, thus enabling the potential of the Internet of Things by eliminating fragmentation and fostering interoperability.

The Web of Things complements existing IoT ecosystems to reduce the cost and risk for suppliers and consumers of applications that create value by combining multiple devices and information services. There are many sectors that will benefit, e.g. smart homes, smart cities, smart industry, smart agriculture, smart healthcare and many more.

The Web of Things Working Group very recently finished the initial Web of Things standards:

The group continues to expand the scope and depth of its work, such as onboarding of Things in a secure way; interoperability profiles for support of particular usage contexts and specific technologies; vocabulary support for new protocols and additional standard metadata such as location or device manufacturer; security schemes to support constantly evolving security mechanisms such as flows in OAuth2, support for PoP Tokens, support for ACE among others; links relation type specification to maximize interoperability; standardized discovery mechanisms so that devices self-describe directly rather than depending on a centralized infrastructure; and improvements to Thing Description Templates.

The Web of Things Interest Group explores ideas prior to standardization in collaboration with external standards development organizations and industry alliances. Such liaisons have already progressed in two critical areas:

  • semantic interoperability
  • end-to-end security across different platforms

Strengthening the Core of the Web


HTML logo

The HTML Working Group moved the June 2019 snapshot of the DOM specification to Candidate Recommendation. This is the first fruit of the collaboration with the WHATWG. The group will remain on stand-by until the DOM transition concludes before it can move the HTML spec further to the wide review of August 2019.

The group expects a yearly adoption for DOM (based on June snapshots) and HTML (based on December snapshots).


All CSS specifications image demonstrating discretionary ligatures

CSS is a critical part of the Open Web Platform. The CSS Working Group gathers requirements from two large groups of CSS users: the publishing industry and application developers. The former requires better pagination support and advanced font handling, the latter needs intelligent (and fast!) scrolling and animations.

What we know as CSS is actually a collection of almost a hundred specifications, referred to as ‘modules’. The current state of CSS is defined by a snapshot, updated once a year. The group also publishes an index defining every term defined by CSS specifications.

Since the previous highlights document, the CSS Working Group published 13 documents (Working Drafts, Candidate Recommendations), including CSS Writing Modes Level 3 that became an official web standard, enabling text on the Web to be laid out horizontally or vertically, as well as setting the direction in which lines are stacked.


SVG logo

All SVG specifications

SVG is an important and widely-used part of the Open Web Platform. Yet, while the SVG Working Group has been addressing some SVG 2.0 issues, the group is lacking resources to push the specification to completion.


The Web Audio Working Group was recently rechartered to finish its work on the Web Audio API –which is substantially complete– and continue work on Web Audio API 2.0. New features are being incubated in the Audio Community Group, which has a monthly call with the Audio WG.

The first version of the specification, which is implemented in all browsers, enables synthesizing audio in the browser. Audio operations are performed with audio nodes, which are linked together to form a modular audio routing graph. Multiple sources — with different types of channel layout — are supported. This modular design provides the flexibility to create complex audio functions with dynamic effects.


Web Performance

All Web Performance specifications

The Web Performance Working Group's mission is to provide methods to observe and improve aspects of application performance of user agent features and APIs, and it works on 15 specifications simultaneously.

The group published the level 2 version of High Resolution Timing. A good amount of time is spent looking at proposals circulating in WICG intended to enhance performance, such as Scheduling API, or is-input-pending.


WASM logo

All WebAssembly specifications

Following HTML, CSS and JavaScript, WebAssembly became the fourth language for the Web which allows code to run in the browser, when the WebAssembly Working Group published the WebAssembly Core Specification as a W3C Recommendation last December.

WebAssembly is a safe, portable, low-level format designed for efficient execution and compact representation of code on modern processors including in a web browser. At its core, WebAssembly is a virtual instruction set architecture that enables high-performance applications on the Web, and can be employed in many other environments. There are multiple implementations of WebAssembly, including browsers and stand-alone systems. WebAssembly can be used for applications like video and audio codecs, graphics and 3D, multi-media and games, cryptographic computations or portable language implementations.

WebAssembly improves Web performance and power consumption by being a virtual machine and execution environment enabling loaded pages to run as native compiled code. In other words, WebAssembly enables near-native performance, optimized load time, and perhaps most importantly, a compilation target for existing code bases. A web page can start executing while the rest of the code downloads. Network and API access occurs through accompanying JavaScript libraries. The security model is identical to that of JavaScript.

The group and companion Community Group, where requirements gathering and language development take place, are already working on a range of features for future versions of the standard, including:

  • Threading: Threads provide the benefits of shared-memory multi-threading and atomic memory accesses.
  • Fixed-width SIMD: Vector operations that execute loops in parallel.
  • Reference types: Allow WebAssembly code to directly reference host objects.
  • Tail calls: Enable calling functions without using extra stack space.
  • ECMAScript module integration: Interact with JavaScript by loading WebAssembly executables as ES6 modules.


Browser testing plays a critical role in the growth of the Web by:

  • Improving the reliability of Web technology definitions;
  • Improving the quality of implementations of these technologies by helping vendors to detect bugs in their products;
  • Improving the data available to Web developers on known bugs and deficiencies of Web technologies by publishing results of these tests.

Browser Testing and Tools

The Browser Testing and Tools Working Group published a First Public Working Draft of WebDriver version 2, a remote control interface that enables introspection and control of user agents that provides a platform- and language-neutral wire protocol as a way for out-of-process programs to remotely instruct the behavior of web browsers.

The group is working on specifying a standard bi-directional protocol for WebDriver; that protocol will share some characteristics with similar existing protocols, such as Chrome Devtools Protocol (aka CDP, aka Chrome Debugging Protocol).

WebPlatform Tests

Since 2014 W3C began work on this coordinated open-source effort to build a cross-browser test suite for the Web Platform, which WHATWG, and all major browsers adopted. Recent progress includes:

  • The WebPlatform Tests project was revamped and launched with improved documentation and full-text search.
  • Enabled HTTP/2 support for tests.
  • Created a repository holding links between test results and browser bugs, with query ability.
  • Launched https://wpt.live as a replacement for https://w3c-test.org.
  • Adopted an RFC process for proposing changes and collating feedback.

Web of Data

All Data specifications

There have been several great success stories around the standardization of data on the web over the past year:

Data is increasingly important to society, especially with the rise of IoT and Big Data. W3C has a mature and extensive suite of standards relating to data that were developed over two decades of experience, with plans for further work on making it easier for developers to work with graph data and knowledge graphs, and for the industry to exploit advanced digital technologies and facilitate business by integrating horizontally along the supply and value chains, and vertically from the factory floor to the office floor.

Linked Data is about the use of URIs as names for things, the ability to dereference these URIs to get further information and to include links to other data. There are ever-increasing sources of open Linked Data on the Web, as well as data services that are restricted to the suppliers and consumers of those services. W3C is seeking Member input on priorities for future work on data-related standards and emerging opportunities for AI and machine learning. An upcoming W3C Workshop on the Web and Machine Learning will focus on enriching the Open Web Platform with better foundations for machine learning.

Traditional approaches to data have focused on tabular databases (SQL/RDBMS), Comma Separated Value (CSV) files, and data embedded in PDF documents and spreadsheets. We're now in midst of a major shift to graph data with nodes and labeled directed links between them. Graph data is:

  • Faster than using SQL and associated JOIN operations
  • More favorable to integrating data from heterogeneous sources
  • Better suited to situations where the data model is evolving

W3C's approach is based upon RDF and there is extensive work at W3C and elsewhere on vocabularies for a wide variety of application domains. In the wake of the W3C Workshop on Graph Data (read the report), we are looking for support for launching a Graph Standardization Business Group to provide a business perspective with use cases and requirements, to coordinate technical standards work and liaisons with external organizations.

Decentralized Web

Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs) and Verifiable Credentials are closely related: by their very nature of being cryptographically verifiable, DIDs are an ideal tool to identify the various actors in a Verifiable Credential, whose cryptographic integrity is one of its most important features. Both were incubated originally in the W3C Credentials Community Group. W3C may expect further specifications developed by that Community Group to be proposed as possible Working Groups in the future.

Verifiable Credentials

Credentials are a part of our daily lives: drivers’ licenses are used to assert that we are capable of operating a motor vehicle, university degrees can be used to assert our level of education, and government-issued passports enable us to travel between countries. Such credentials, specifically the digital versions thereof, are fundamentally important for a number of applications, user interactions, workflow, etc., that are happening on the Web. These digital credentials must be cryptographically secure and verifiable, privacy-respecting, and managed in a decentralized manner to ensure flexibility and long term sustainability of applications that depend on them.

The Verifiable Credentials Working Group (formerly known as Verifiable Claims Working Group) has published in the Fall of 2019 a W3C Recommendation of Verifiable Credentials Data Model 1.0 which provides the basis for the larger-scale deployment of digital credentials across many different applications, as well asVerifiable Credentials Use Cases.

Digital Identifiers

Digital Identifiers are fundamental for the deployment of various services on the Web and beyond, both in terms of interactive applications and also as part of the deployment of a Web of Data. Considering the various types of applications, identifiers should be easy to create, decentralized, persistent, resolvable, and cryptographically verifiable. While a number of identification schemes (Web URLs, ISBNs, ORCID numbers, email addresses, UUIDs, etc.) fulfill some of these characteristics, none fulfill all.

The Decentralized Identifier Working Group aims at defining digital identifiers as specific URI schemes that have an associated DID document: a JSON document containing primarily cryptographic information that allows any agent to check entity integrity, exchange private information, and get services information; and that can be stored on various types of distributed ledgers, Web storage systems like github, or IPFS. The group has already published Working Drafts of DID Identifiers v 1.0, and DID Use Cases and Requirements.

Web for All

Security, Privacy

All Security specificationsall Privacy specifications

This has been an active period for Privacy and Security activities, with the establishment of a Privacy Community Group and vital new activity in the Privacy Interest Group (PING) and Improving Web Advertising Business Group.

Privacy and security – integral to human rights and civil liberties – have long been important in the Web Consortium's agenda. For example, our work has been instrumental in improving Web security through the development of authentication technologies that can replace weak passwords and reduce the threats of phishing and other attacks. However, users rightly fear the misuse of their personal data and being tracked online, including browser fingerprinting, the spread of disinformation, and other online harms. These are difficult and urgent challenges. We have begun discussions about how to help users find trustworthy content on the Web without increasing censorship.

Internationalization (i18n)

indic script example

All Internationalization specificationseducational articles related to Internationalizationspec developers checklistoverview of language enablement work in progressInternationalization Initiative

Only a fraction of the world's population of almost 8 billion speaks English, and yet over 50% of online content is written in that one language. Those whose voice and language are not included on the Web will be increasingly marginalized and excluded. They will not receive the economic, educational or democratic benefits of the Web and by not having their presence and participation, we lose the potential of the Web to reflect the full richness of the world.

The Web Consortium launched the Internationalization Activity (i18n) in 1998 to make the Web truly 'world wide'. For the Web to truly work for stakeholders all around the world engaging with content in various languages, there must be a collaboration of language experts, Web site designers, developers, and vendors who are active in moving the Web forward. The Web Consortium Internationalization Activity has developed a language matrix of International typography which is supported on the Web. We will only be able to connect all communities that share a language when the Web supports all the world's languages.

For an overview of current projects see the i18n radar.

Internationalization Initiative

The Internationalization initiative aims to increase participants and motivate sponsors to fund extra resources in i18n, beyond what is covered by the core membership funding. We are targeting contributors in three key areas: Language enablement, Developer support, and Author support.

Language enablement

Japanese and Chinese layout task forces continue to meet regularly and are actively working on their documents. We expect to very soon publish a new version of the Japanese Layout Requirements document (in English and Japanese), which incorporates errata and editorial changes. Work is also ongoing in the area of gap analysis.

Other groups include Arabic, Southeast Asian, and Indic task forces. We also have nascent networks for discussion of European and African languages. Over the next 4-5 months we hope to encourage more experts to become active in these groups, and would welcome any volunteers or support from the membership. Documents produced by those groups to date include gap analysis and requirements information for Arabic, Persian, Japanese, Chinese, Amharic, Tigriña, Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Bengali, Punjabi, Lao, Khmer, Thai, Javanese, Georgian, Dutch, Hungarian, and more. For a summary of current status, see the language matrix.

For more information see Analysing support for text layout on the Web. For a list of task forces working in this area, and their documents, see Overview of language enablement work in progress.

Other recent news include:

  • Interactive tests: A new approach provides a much faster way of developing tests for gap analysis work, and recording the results.
  • Github-based content development for gap analysis: To lower barriers for contributions to gap analysis documents, enable various new views into the data, and improve collaboration, a process has been put in place to enable authoring of content in GitHub issues. Any changes made are immediately available to people viewing the gap analysis document in a browser.
  • Language Enablement Index: This document, recently overhauled, provides pointers to information for implementers and developers, and contains links to requirements, gap analysis issues, tests, unanswered questions relating to language support, etc.

Developer support

The Internationalization Working Group has been active reviewing specifications and providing advice to other Working Groups, including CSS, WHATWG, Webplatform, WAI, and Web Publishing, Web of Things, JSON-LD, among others.

  • Short review checklist: This checklist helps spec developers understand what aspects of their spec are likely to need attention for internationalization, and points them to more detailed checklists for the relevant topics. It provides an easy way to begin a self-review, and also helps those reviewing specs for i18n issues..
  • Strings on the Web: Language and Direction Metadata: lays out issues and discusses potential solutions for passing information about language and direction with strings in JSON or other data formats. The document enabled us to work with JSON-LD and Web Publishing groups to develop a solution for handling metadata for base direction of right-to-left scripts in RDF, JSON-LD and related specifications.
  • User-friendly test format: A new format was developed for Internationalization Test Suite tests, which displays helpful information about how the test works. This is particularly useful because those tests are pointed to by educational materials and gap-analysis documents. (See also the interactive test approach mentioned earlier.)

Education & outreach

In addition to HTML & CSS Authoring Techniques (see the list of available articles), new educational materials include:

  • Internationalization tips for linking to headings & figures: If you are linking to headings and figures for a page that will be translated into another language, or for a multilingual page, this article looks at things you need to bear in mind and provides markup templates that will be helpful. Useful for content authors.
  • RTL rendering of LTR scripts: describes ways to produce runs of right-to-left text for languages such as Chinese, Japanese, Egyptian hieroglyphs, Tifinagh, Old Norse runes, and a good number of other now archaic scripts, using HTML & CSS.
  • Types of language declaration: describes how two types of language information, 'metadata' and 'text-processing', differ. It's useful for developers as well as content authors.

Web Accessibility

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All Accessibility specificationsWAI translationsAccessibility fundamentalsBusiness case for digital accessibility

In 2006, the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) which reaffirmed that all persons with all types of disabilities should be able to enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms. The Convention defined access to information, including web and digital content, as a human right. Digital accessibility, including web accessibility, is key for equal access, opportunity and participation for all.

When websites and Web tools are properly designed and coded, people with disabilities can use them, and individuals, businesses, and society all benefit. The Web Consortium’s Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), launched in 1997, develops technical specifications, guidelines, and techniques, as well as supporting resources such as outreach and training materials to promote awareness and implementation. WAI’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is regarded as the authoritative international standard for Web accessibility, and has been adopted or referenced by many governments around the world.

However, as the complexity of the Web increases, and as technologies as diverse as digital publishing and virtual reality converge onto the Web, the need for up-to-date accessibility support in advanced technologies is increasing exponentially. Without the Web Consortium's efforts, people with disabilities would be left further behind.

The Web Accessibility Initiative supports W3C's Web for All mission, and helps ensure a cohesive program of coordinated accessibility activities, distributed throughout the functional management areas of W3C, with additional support from WAI funders and sponsors. Recent achievements include:

Educational materials recently added

  • We recently opened a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on W3Cx: An Introduction to Web Accessibility. This course is available for free or can be taken for a verified certificate.
  • We increased the number of our available translations of WAI materials and updated the translation support materials to make it easier to select priority resources to translate, and get guidance on the translation process, as part of an effort to expand access to Web Accessibility resources to people from low income backgrounds.

Evoluation of Accessibility guidelines

The Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (AG WG) recently:

  • published a First Public Working Draft of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.2 (read the blog post)), adding more accessibility requirements for people with cognitive and learning disabilities, people with low vision, and mobile accessibility;
  • completed the Recommendation Accessibility Conformance Testing Rules Format 1.0 to improve inter-rater reliability when evaluating conformance of web content to WCAG;
  • is preparing a First Public Working Draft of the W3C Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 3.0.

WAI staff continue to promote standards harmonization and coordination around the world, including through the European Norm EN 301 549. Updates are completed to the Chinese National Accessibility Standard.

Accessibility of emerging technologies: Research Questions Task Force (RQTF)

Updating Accessible Rich Internet Applications and Mappings

The ARIA Working Group continues to develop ARIA deliverables according to the ARIA roadmap:

Do your specs support accessibility?

There are accessibility aspects to most specifications. Check your work with the FAST checklist (a more detailed guidance is available).

Outreach to the world

W3C Developer Relations

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To foster the excellent feedback loop between Web Standards development and Web developers, and to grow participation from that diverse community, recent W3C Developer Relations activities include:

  • @w3cdevs tracks the enormous amount of work happening across W3C
  • Tech videos: short interviews during TPAC 2019 in Fukuoka.
  • TPAC Dev Meetup: successful Developer Meetup in Fukuoka, Japan, in September 2019
  • MDN Product Advisory Board: the collaboration between W3C, Google, Microsoft, Samsung, and Bocoup has recently enabled:
    • progress towards including EPub3 as part of the MDN documentation portal
    • participation of the W3C community (via its chairs and the staff) in the design of a survey to collect information from Web developers on the needs they have from the Web Platform; the results of this survey have already provided key insights on future W3C work and are expected to lead to further critical input to the W3C agenda

W3C Training

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Many Web users rely on translations of documents developed at W3C whose official language is English. W3C is extremely grateful to the continuous efforts of its community in ensuring our various deliverables in general, and in our specifications in particular, are made available in other languages, for free, ensuring their exposure to a much more diverse set of readers. You may refer to the instructions in order to contribute to our translation efforts.

W3C Liaisons

Liaisons and coordination with numerous organizations and Standards Development Organizations (SDOs) is crucial for W3C to:

  • make sure standards are interoperable
  • coordinate our respective agenda in Internet governance: W3C participates in ICANN, GIPO, IGF, the I* organizations (ICANN, IETF, ISOC, IAB).
  • ensure at the government liaison level that our standards work is officially recognized when important to our membership so that products based on them (often done by our members) are part of procurement orders. W3C has ARO/PAS status with ISO. W3C participates in the EU MSP and Rolling Plan on Standardization
  • ensure the global set of Web and Internet standards form a compatible stack of technologies, at the technical and policy level (patent regime, fragmentation, use in policy making)
  • promote Standards adoption equally by the industry, the public sector, and the public at large.
  • Incoming and outgoing official liaisons are tracked in a Member-visible archive.