W3C in 2020

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The Web Consortium is grateful to the W3C community, especially this year which has been so difficult for so many. Our community has remained an inspiration and light, and has accomplished so much.

W3C end of year card with W3C logo, text, and illustrations of fireworks

We are immensely proud of all the work the W3C community has done this year. In-depth accounts of the work of our many groups can be found in our May 2020 and October 2020 Strategic Highlights documents which I encourage you to read. As we reflect on the overall year, we wanted to emphasize a few areas of recent success and what is underway.

Enhancing the Web Platform

W3C’s 37 working groups and 10 interest groups enable us to pursue our mission through the creation of Web standards, guidelines, and supporting materials. Tremendous work across the Consortium includes 277 specifications in active development.

Notable advances in Web Payments were made with the launch of an initiative to improve the Web for merchants, and the release of a document explaining how to enable more secure and convenient payment during an e-commerce checkout on the Web.

In the Publishing space, Audiobooks and the Publication Manifest reached the status of Recommendation.

Media and Entertainment saw the creation of the GPU for the Web and the WebTransport working groups, and the update of the Roadmap of Web Applications on Mobile.

The Web of Things working group published a series of Web of Things Recommendations, keeping the promise to enhance interoperability and counter fragmentation in IoT.

Increasing attention to privacy on the web, the Privacy Community Group launched at the beginning of the year and is already incubating new features; the Improving Web Advertising Business Group is investigating privacy-preserving means for web monetization; and the Privacy Interest Group stepped up the pace of privacy reviews.

Adjusting to the COVID-19 pandemic

A substantial concern for not just our community but for the whole world this year was, of course, the Coronavirus 2019 pandemic. At its start we were concerned both for the welfare of the planet and our ability to keep moving the Web forward.

We are gratified to not have been impacted too much as an organization. Respecting the importance of social distancing, we prioritized the needs of people first and quickly suspended all work-related travel, operating completely remotely the most vital work that we do with our community – creating Web standards. We successfully converted our physical meetings and workshops to virtual ones, fully leveraging our own technology, as you can read in the case-study of our video player.

The 2020 global pandemic accelerated a trend for the world to go more virtual, making the Web even more critical to society – in information sharing, commerce, real-time communications, entertainment, and many more.

WebRTC, which is on the path to becoming a W3C Recommendation shortly, has been playing a key role in making the Web a critical digital infrastructure. Combining the universal reach of the Web and the richness of live audio and video has reshaped how the world communicates, especially in the pandemic.

In December, our learning platform W3Cx celebrated one-millionth enrollment for its long-standing and well-regarded courses on Web technologies related to front-end Web development.

We are proud that the processes and technologies developed at the Web Consortium have been foundational to the critical ability for the world to connect in 2020 and we look forward with excitement to what our community will develop for the future of the Web and the world.

Agile standard development

In 2020 the Web Consortium worked to improve the responsiveness and agility of our standardization processes and practices. In September of this year, the 2020 updates of the W3C Process Document and Patent Policy took effect.

The updates give a real boost to building the Web and increase and strengthen the responsiveness of our standardization activities by adding, among other changes, a continuous standard development mode that includes a living standard approach, and earlier Royalty-Free protection for implementers, reinforcing access to the Web's technology as common infrastructure.

Fourteen working groups have already switched to the 2020 version of the W3C Patent Policy launched in September. The remaining groups are due to recharter in 2021 and will switch at this time.

A glimpse at our pipeline

  • The Miniapps working group charter is under consideration by W3C Members, aiming to standardize a new form of mobile applications built on top of Web technologies and using capabilities of native applications.
  • Web Audio, which specifies processing and synthesizing audio in web applications, is on its way to Recommendation.
  • The Immersive Web working group is finalizing the WebXR Device API and companion specifications to enable VR/AR experiences on the Web.
  • The W3C Workshop on Web & Machine Learning brought together providers of machine learning toolkits, framework providers, Web platform practitioners who recommended the creation of a standard based on the Web Neural Network API. We are drafting a Web and Machine Learning Working Group charter.
  • We will soon confirm a W3C Workshop on Wide Color Gamut and High Dynamic Range for the Web to be held in the Spring of 2021.

Thank you for a great year

The work accomplished by the W3C Community enhances the Web platform and innovates for its growth and strength. Our standards build 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.

2020 saw great progress in the work of the Web Consortium and in the connection, support, and capability of our community. We look forward to building upon it for an even stronger 2021.

Thank you to all who contributed, used, and supported our work this year. We are grateful for such an incredible community. We send all our best wishes for the holidays and in the coming year.

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