The World Wide Web Consortium Issues HTML 3.2 as a Recommendation

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Brings Richer, Stable HTML to Web Developer and User Community

Testimonials | Fact Sheet


CAMBRIDGE, MASS., USA -- January 14, 1997 -- Responding to the need for an updated specification for the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) today endorsed the HTML 3.2 specification as a W3C Recommendation. The Recommendation indicates that the specification is stable, contributes toward the W3C mission of 'Realizing the Full Potential of the Web', and most importantly, has been reviewed by all W3C Members, who are in favor of supporting its adoption by the industry.

HTML 3.2 is the W3C's latest Recommendation for HTML. Developed throughout 1996 by W3C together with industry leaders IBM, Microsoft, Netscape Communications, Novell, SoftQuad, Spyglass and Sun Microsystems, HTML 3.2 adds widely deployed features such as tables, applets and text flow around images, superscripts and subscripts while providing backwards compatibility with the existing standard HTML 2.0.

"For data or applications intended to work across platforms, or having a lifetime of more than a few months, conformance to HTML 3.2 gives the best guarantee of interoperability," said Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web and Director of the W3C. "If you're looking for a railroad through the marshes of ranging HTML implementations, HTML 3.2 is it."

W3C is continuing work on extensions to HTML for multimedia objects, scripting, style sheets, layout, forms, higher quality printing and math. W3C plans on incorporating this work in further versions of HTML.

"We are working closely with Member organizations and recognized experts in the development, testing and refinement of HTML", adds Dave Raggett, visiting scientist at W3C and lead architect of W3C's HTML activity. "By providing a neutral forum, W3C is playing a key role in bringing players together to work for the lasting interoperability of the Web."


Please see attached HTML 3.2 fact sheet and testimonials document for additional information on HTML 3.2.

For information on HTML in particular, see


About the World Wide Web Consortium [W3C]

The W3C was created to develop common protocols that enhance the interoperability and promote the evolution of the World Wide Web. It is an industry consortium jointly run by the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science (LCS) in the USA, the National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control (INRIA) in France and Keio University in Japan. Services provided by the Consortium include: a repository of information about the World Wide Web for developers and users; reference code implementations to embody and promote standards; and various prototype and sample applications to demonstrate use of new technology. To date 156 organizations are Members of the Consortium.

For more information about the World Wide Web Consortium, see

About the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science

Now in its third decade, MIT LCS is dedicated to the invention, development and understanding of information technologies expected to drive substantial technical and socio-economic change. The LCS has helped information technology grow from a mere curiosity to 10 percent of the industrial world's economies by its pioneering efforts in interactive computing, computer networking, distributed systems and public key cryptography. LCS members and alumni have started some thirty companies and have pioneered the Nubus, the X-Window System, the RSA algorithm, the Ethernet and spreadsheets.

For more information about the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science, see


INRIA, the French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control, is a public-sector scientific institute charged with conducting both fundamental and applied research, and with transferring research results to industry. INRIA is made up of five Research Units located at Rocquencourt (near Paris), Rennes, Sophia Antipolis, Nancy and Grenoble. Areas of current research include information processing, advanced high speed networking, structured documents, and scientific computation.

For more information about INRIA, see

About Keio University

Keio University is one of Japan's foremost computer science research centers and universities. It is one of the oldest private universities in Japan, and has five major campuses around Tokyo. Keio University has been promoting joint research projects in cooperation with industry, government and international organizations, and is now becoming one of the research leaders for the network and digital media technology.

For more information on Keio University, see


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HTML 3.2 Testimonials

"This W3C Recommendation provides a stable core of HTML functionality that web site developers can count on. Using HTML 3.2, developers can create web sites that are accessible to the broadest possible audience, better enabling their web sites to conduct electronic business."

-- John Patrick, Vice President, Internet Technology, IBM Corporation


"Grif's Symposia Pro, 'the first' web publishing solution to fully support HTML 3.2, demonstrates Grif's commitment to develop global solutions for web page creation. HTML 3.2 was developed with a team of companies conducting business in North America, Europe and Asia. This ensures that the resulting solution will be supported worldwide, reflecting the global nature of World Wide Web technology."

-- Bertrand Mélèse, President, Grif S.A.


"We are proud of our ongoing role in the development of standards for interoperability on the World Wide Web and corporate intranets. The HTML 3.2 specification enables increasingly richer structured information markup. SoftQuad remains a leader in providing products that utilize Web standards such as HTML 3.2. SoftQuad HoTMetaL PRO 3.0 has provided full HTML 3.2 conformance and validation since shipping in May 1996. SoftQuad HoTMetaL intranet Publisher (H.i.P.) takes advantage of several new features in HTML 3.2 to allow users to create their own extensions, develop live tables of contents, and create personal views of information. By using the structure that is inherent in HTML 3.2, H.i.P. users can develop documents that meet the needs of their organization and their users."

-- Murray Maloney, Technical Director, SoftQuad Inc.


"The entire worldwide Web community benefits when the W3C leads the way towards industry standards for HTML. Microsoft is proud to work with the W3C HTML Editorial Review Board to define HTML 3.2 and future HTML specifications. Working together with the Consortium's technical staff and experts from other companies will help us all avoid arbitrary extensions to HTML, the foundation of the Web. Microsoft has implemented this specification as it has evolved, culminating in full support for HTML 3.2 in Internet Explorer 3.01. Moving forward, Microsoft is fully committed to supporting W3C's Recommendations in Internet Explorer 4.0 and our entire product line."

-- John Ludwig, Vice President of Internet Client and Collaboration Tools, Microsoft


"By endorsing HTML 3.2 as a W3C Recommendation, the members of the World Wide Web Consortium are recognizing the importance of supporting a standards-track process for HTML. Having an independent standard for HTML is critical for all of us who create content of the World Wide Web. It helps protect and promote the work that people are distributing via the Web. The W3C Recommendation of this standard demonstrates that there is a process in place to approve evolutionary change for this basic data format."

-- Dale Dougherty, President and CEO, Songline Studios, An Affiliate of O'Reilly & Associates


"As a designer and user, I am optimistic about the precedent for industry-wide consensus set by W3C's HTML 3.2 Recommendation. Having worked with the Editorial Review Board for over a year, I am confident W3C will help the web 'cross the chasm' to become a true mass medium. With the range of new devices coming online, standards will become increasingly important. I support the industry-wide adoption of HTML 3.2 and other W3C-led technology like Cascading Style Sheets Level 1 (CSS1). When browser manufacturers cooperate, we all benefit."

-- David Siegel, President, Studio Verso


"Apple strongly supports Internet standards and is a participant in W3C for that reason. We believe that adoption of standards by bodies such as W3C provides an orderly process for bringing new technologies to the Internet in a true multi-platform manner. We've anticipated the adoption of HTML 3.2 by supporting most of its features in a coming release of Cyberdog, our component-based Internet suite."

-- Larry Tesler, Vice President of AppleNet and Chief Scientist, Apple Computer, Inc.


"Eastman Kodak Company is pleased to work with the W3C and its Member companies collaborating on the evolving HTML specifications. Specifications like this are the foundation that holds the World Wide Web together and allows for its evolution. Kodak plans to conform to this HTML 3.2 specification in the products that we build and the services that we deliver."

-- Ron Jamerson, Architecture Manager, Internet Marketing, Eastman Kodak Company

HTML 3.2 Fact Sheet


The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) recently issued a specification for Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) 3.2 as a W3C Recommendation, responding to the need for an industry-wide consensus for updating HTML.

HTML 3.2 extends the existing Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standard HTML 2.0 with ideas from several sources. The W3C's Editorial Review Board (ERB) incorporated designsfrom the HTML+ and HTML 3.0 proposals by Dave Raggett from Hewlett Packard Laboratories and extensions proposed by W3C member organizations, including major contributions originally popularized by Netscape Communications Corporation.

The original HTML specification was written by Tim Berners-Lee, Director of W3C, while he was at CERN. Innovations driven by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) Mosaic team and many other contributors were incorporated by an IETF working group, leading to the HTML 2.0 specification (Request For Comments #1866), edited by W3C Architecture Domain Leader Dan Connolly.

As the Web industry grew up around the original specifications and proprietary extensions began cropping up, the W3C convened a small group of experts representing several leading organizations to cooperatively develop new HTML features. The first step was stabilizing a baseline version representing features already deployed, HTML 3.2. W3C is continuing to work with vendors on extensions to future versions of HTML for multimedia objects, scripting, style sheets, layout, forms, higher quality printing, and math.

Key Features & Benefits

HTML is the most visible part of the foundation of the World Wide Web. Along with the invention of a new scheme for naming any Internet information resource (URLs) and a new protocol for sending files across the Internet (HTTP), the Web needed a new data format for including links and device-independent formatting to glue it all together. For most Web users today, URLs and HTTP are mere mechanical details, while millions have learned to create home pages, brochures, picture galleries, and more with HTML.

HTML is different from many traditional document languages. Many word processing systems and other tools produce formatted files: "...draw this word, go up half a line, change to a bolder font, now draw this other word...". HTML uses structural markup which emphasizes the meaning of a document: "...This is the second item in a list; this is a top-level heading...". It's completely up to the HTML processor how to format the document for the recipient: as voice, as a text screen, as a graphical 'page', etc. This power comes from HTML 3.2's conformance to International Standard ISO 8879 - Standard Generalized Markup Language. Since the Web's hypertext documents are an SGML application, they are represented using text-based markup and are interoperability across a wide range of platforms.

HTML 3.2 includes features for basic document idioms such as headings, lists, paragraphs, tables and images, as well as hypertext links and electronic fill-in forms. HTML 3.2 documents are designed to be rendered in several ways: on graphical displays, text-only displays, speech-based browsers, and printed to hardcopy media. Additional HTML 3.2 features support meta-information describing link relationships and document properties such as authorship, content rating, and copyright statements.


HTML has been used for a very wide range of applications, including: personal home pages, advertising and marketing, product support, home shopping, newsletters, directories, news services, reference information and easy to use front ends to existing information systems.

HTML is typically used together with the Hypertext Transport Protocol (HTTP) to provide access to Web pages on host computers on the global Internet or within Corporate intranets. It is equally useful on local media such as CD-ROMs, as hyperlinked help files or multimedia presentations, for example.

Further information on the World Wide Web Consortium is available via the Web at

For information on HTML in particular, see

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