The World Wide Web Consortium Issues XML 1.0 as a W3C Recommendation

Author(s) and publish date


Key Industry Players, Experts Collaborate to Develop Interoperable Data Format for the Web

Testimonials | Fact Sheet


CAMBRIDGE, MA, USA -- 10 February, 1998 -- Advancing its mission to lead the Web to its full potential, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) today announced the release of the XML 1.0 specification as a W3C Recommendation. XML 1.0 is the W3C's first Recommendation for the Extensible Markup Language, a system for defining, validating, and sharing document formats on the Web. A W3C Recommendation indicates that a specification is stable, contributes to Web interoperability, and has been reviewed by the W3C Membership, who are in favor of supporting its adoption by the industry. "The development of XML 1.0 illustrates the power of the W3C process," said Dan Connolly, W3C Architecture Domain Leader and XML Activity Lead. "From its inception, W3C has been committed to the evolution of Web data formats. XML is the next step in that evolution and we are proud to have spearheaded this intiative."

XML was created and developed by the W3C XML Working Group, which includes key industry players such as Adobe, ArborText, DataChannel, Inso, Hewlett-Packard, Isogen, Microsoft, NCSA, Netscape, SoftQuad, Sun Microsystems, Texcel, Vignette, and Fuji Xerox; as well as experts in structured documents and electronic publishing. "The commitment of strong competitors such as Sun, HP, Microsoft, and Netscape to work together on an open standard for information exchange has been a remarkable demonstration of cooperation for the common good," said Jon Bosak, Sun's Online Information Technology Architect and Chair of the W3C XML Working Group. "XML represents a key technical advance in web technology, it enables secure electronic commerce on an expanded scale thus ushering in a new generation of distributed applications. However, beyond its technical importance, XML represents a fundamental shift in the relationship between software producers and consumers. XML is an open, human-readable format that does for data what Java does for programs. Together XML and Java provide a platform- and vendor-independent environment that liberates users from proprietary software and hardware architectures. Because it advances document delivery as much as data exchange, XML will alter the competitive landscape not only on the World Wide Web but in electronic and print publishing as well."

Jean Paoli, XML 1.0 specification Co-editor, and Weblications Product Unit Manager at Microsoft Corporation, added: "This is a huge win for the W3C and for everyone who has worked to make XML a reality. XML's use to describe and interchange structured data ensures the rapid evolution of the Web."

XML 1.0

XML 1.0 is a subset of an existing, widely used international text processing standard (Standard Generalized Markup Language, ISO 8879:1986 as amended and corrected) intended for use on the World Wide Web. XML retains ISO 8879's basic features -- vendor independence, user extensibility, complex structures, validation, and human readability -- in a form that is much easier to implement and understand. XML can be processed by existing commercial tools and a rapidly growing number of free ones.

"XML is extensible, internationalized, robust, simple, and built for the Web," said Tim Bray, Principal at Textuality and Co-editor of the XML 1.0 specification. "Its arrival enables whole new classes of application, and is a major step towards fulfilling some of the Internet's unrealized potential."

XML is primarily intended to meet the requirements of large-scale Web content providers for industry-specific markup, vendor-neutral data exchange, media-independent publishing, one-on-one marketing, workflow management in collaborative authoring environments, and the processing of Web documents by intelligent clients. It is also expected to find use in metadata applications. XML is fully internationalized for both European and Asian languages, with all conforming processors required to support the Unicode character set. The language is designed for the quickest possible client-side processing consistent with its primary purpose as an electronic publishing and data interchange format.

"In their need for more intelligent documents and more readily reusable information, the requirements of the industrial sector and those of the academic and research community are surprisingly similar," explained C.M. Sperberg-McQueen, Editor in Chief of the Text Encoding Initiative and Co-Editor of the XML 1.0 specification. "By addressing the needs of both, XML makes a great step forward toward the original goals of the World Wide Web: to embody human knowledge in a form accessible to everyone."

W3C Recommendation Process

Specifications developed within W3C working groups must be formally approved by the Membership. Consensus is reached after a specification has proceeded through the following review stages: Working Draft, Proposed Recommendation, and Recommendation.

Stable working drafts are submitted by working groups to the W3C Director for consideration as a Proposed Recommendation. Upon the Director's approval, the document becomes a "Proposed Recommendation", and is forwarded to the W3C Membership to vote whether it should become an official W3C Recommendation. The W3C Advisory Committee -- comprised of one official representative from each Member organization -- submits one of the following votes on the Proposed Recommendation: yes; yes, with comments; no, unless specified deficiencies are corrected; no, this Proposed Recommendation should be abandoned.

During the Member review and voting period (approximately 6 weeks), the Working Group resolves minor technical issues (if any) and communicates its results to the W3C Director. After this time, the Director announces the disposition of the document; it may become a W3C Recommendation (possibly with minor changes), revert to Working Draft status, or may be dropped as a W3C work item.

The XML 1.0 specification has been produced as part of the W3C XML Activity. Please see attached Fact Sheet and testimonials document for additional information on XML 1.0.

For information on XML in particular, see

About the World Wide Web Consortium [W3C]

The W3C was created to lead the Web to its full potential by developing common protocols that promote its evolution and ensure its interoperability. It is an international 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, more than 243 organizations are Members of the Consortium.

For more information about the World Wide Web Consortium, see

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XML 1.0 Testimonials

· ACCESS · Adobe · Agranat Systems · Alis Technologies · ArborText · Bitstream · CNET · DataChannel · Fulcrum Technologies · IBM · Inso · Junglee · Lotus · Microsoft · Netscape · Open Market · Open Software Associates · POET Software · SoftQuad · Texcel · Textuality · Unwired Planet · Vignette · webMethods ·


"XML gives great possibility not only for PC world but also for embedded world. Logical structures in the documents will be handled easily by using the XML-based approach. ACCESS' NetFront, which is an Internet-access software for consumer area and industrial area, will support XML 1.0 and enable the processing of various XML data in a wide range of non-PC areas."

-- Dr. Tomihisa Kamada, Executive Vice-President, R&D, ACCESS Co., Ltd.


"Industry-wide adoption of the XML standard will make searching, reusing and exchanging electronic content much easier, enabling businesses to implement more efficient electronic commerce, content management and mission critical publishing solutions. With FrameMaker and FrameMaker+SGML, Adobe is committed to providing customers with the ability to create XML content from both mainstream, unstructured documents and complex, structured information based on SGML. As an active participant in the development of the XML standard as well as XLL and XSL specifications, we are pleased to support the World Wide Web Consortium Recommendation of XML 1.0."

-- Sharon Grimshaw, Director of Product Management, Enterprise Solutions Divsion, Adobe Systems Incorporated


"XML provides a key building block for the development of Web-based device management applications. As the leading provider of embedded Web server technology, we will give our customers the ability to serve dynamic XML from their products as part of their Web-managed control interfaces. We look forward to continuing to work with other W3C members to define standards based on XML for embedded systems management."

-- Ian Agranat, President, Agranat Systems Inc.


"It is good to see the very first version of XML leverage the full power of Unicode, thereby enabling authoring, browsing and more, in almost all languages of the world. Once again, the Consortium lives up to the first two Ws of the World Wide Web by promoting a globally applicable technology."

-- François Yergeau, Senior Technology Advisor, Alis Technologies Inc.


"ArborText strongly believes in XML's potential as the standard for structured information delivery across the Web. We wholeheartedly support the World Wide Web Consortium's recommendation of the XML 1.0 specification. As an active participant in the W3C's development of XML since work began, ArborText is gratified to see XML reach this important milestone. Having already released XML-enabled editing software (ADEPT 7) and an XML stylesheet editor (XML Styler), ArborText is dedicated to furthering the development and adoption of this important specification."

-- Jim Sterken, President, CEO and Founder, ArborText


"Bitstream is pleased to extend its support of the W3C's XML Recommendation. XML forms are used by Bitstream in its own layout tools such as Bitstream NuDoc. In addition, Bitstream's font portability solution, Bitstream TrueDoc, can provide typographic control for XML, XSL and CSS1."

-- Brad Chase, Director of New Media Product Marketing, Bitstream Inc.


"XML is an important new chapter in the development of the Web. As a content provider, CNET is extremely excited about the potential of XML both as a single format for publishing and as an extensible language for the aggregation and exchange of content with our partners."

-- Kenneth S. Norton, Director, Software Engineering, CNET: The Computer Network


"DataChannel is excited to support the World Wide Web Consortium's Recommendation of XML 1.0 and its effort to further advance web development and web based computing. DataChannel is committed to work with the W3C and our partners to contribute to the advancement of the web. DataChannel's ChannelManager was one of the first industry strength applications using XML. DataChannel's product line will continue to emphasize on open industry standards such as XML, HTML and HTTP."

-- David Pool, CEO, DataChannel


"As part of Fulcrum's strategy to embrace standards, we view XML as providing an open and powerful replacement for our own proprietary internal document representation, as well as becoming the format of choice for access to external data. Adopting XML will allow us to make better use of our customer's data and will greatly extend the effectiveness of our Knowledge Management solution."

-- Gwyn Fisher, Vice President of R&D, Fulcrum Technologies


"The XML 1.0 Recommendation is another example of how open standards make the Web a more flexible and productive medium. XML 1.0, which simplifies the way Web programs 'talk' to each other and is designed to optimize network applications, better enables programmers to quickly develop technologies that will enhance the Web."

-- John Patrick, Vice President Internet Technology, IBM


"Through its full approval of XML, the W3C has taken another concrete step toward enabling the Web to fulfill its promise as a low-cost, high-quality backbone for commercial and business computing. XML brings to the Web three important elements for mission-critical computing: integrity, extensibility, and structure. Web based applications will be enabled by XML to manage the information assets and business processes that are integral to every organization's day to day operations."

-- Sebastian Holst, Vice President of Product Management, Inso Corporation


"As the leader in Web data and application integration, Junglee Corporation fully supports the XML 1.0 W3C Recommendation. As Web sites become more self-describing with the advent of XML, we will be able to scale our Virtual Database (VDB) technology by several orders of magnitude to benefit our user communities of online shoppers and job seekers. Moreover, VDB technology will also enable the smooth transition of the Web over the era of mixed HTML and XML usage."

-- Anand Rajaraman, Chief Architect, Junglee Corporation


"As the leader in web-based e-commerce, knowledge management, collaboration, messaging, and business productivity applications, Lotus is proud to participate in today's XML announcement. XML enables whole families of open, interoperable protocols for e-commerce, as well as for data, and document exchange. The Lotus eSuite WorkPlace and eSuite DevPack are already XML enabled, and we also plan to support XML in the Lotus Domino and SmartSuite offerings. We at Lotus firmly believe that XML is a key foundation technology for the internet, and are pleased to support it's introduction as a W3C Recommendation."

-- Nick Shelness, Chief Technology Officer, Lotus Development Corp.


"We are thrilled the W3C has moved so quickly to establish XML as the format for data on the Web. With support for XML in Internet Explorer 4, developers can build flexible, data-driven web applications today."

-- David Cole, Vice President, Web Client and Consumer Experience Division, Microsoft Corporation


"As a leader and believer in the open standards process, Netscape continues to support the work of the W3C and its ongoing efforts to deliver technology recommendations designed for the benefit of the entire industry. We believe XML is an exciting technology that continues to show great potential for Web developers and look forward to supporting it through its co-evolution with HTML."

-- Dave Rothschild, VP Client Products, Netscape


"XML marks an important step in the development of standards which will transform the Internet commerce, information commerce, and electronic publishing industries. As a contributor to the XML initiative, Open Market is pleased see XML gaining the reception it deserves."

-- Bill Bennett, Vice President Folio Products Group, Open Market


"Open Software Associates continues to look to the W3C to set important standards for the Web. We are already using the XML specification with our netDeploy product for automating software distribution and updating over the Internet and intranets. We support the adoption of XML as an important W3C Recommendation. It has the appropriate structure and flexibility for the coming wave of powerful e-business applications."

-- Graeme Greenhill, President, Open Software Associates, Inc.


"The World Wide Web is a collection of web pages with static text and images. By leveraging the power of XML the Web will become a dynamic collection of interconnected object databases all talking the same language. POET provides the object database products required to achieve this potential. XML's hierarchical structure and rich linking demand POET's unique functionality. In addition, POET's products are embeddable, and address the needs of both client and server-based XML storage. eCommerce and Internet/intranet content management companies are gaining a competitive edge in addressing XML by building on the POET Content Manager now. POET is extremely excited about the XML standardization driven by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), and we are proud to support the XML standard with the leading-edge POET Content Management Suite, the scalable repository for SGML and XML."

-- Mike Hogan, Vice President of Business Development, POET Software


"SoftQuad is proud to have been part of the process of defining XML from the very earliest stages. The flexibility and interoperability inherent in XML will enable the development of customer solutions that have been beyond reach in the past. SoftQuad's significant history in SGML and HTML uniquely positions us to play a key part in the acceptance and adoption of the new XML standard, and as leaders in the field, we are committed to XML-enabling our products."

-- Peter Sharpe, Chief Scientist at SoftQuad and member of the XML WG


"Texcel applauds the W3C for issuing XML 1.0 as a Recommendation. Our customers, from the U.S. government to leaders in manufacturing and telecommunications, are pioneers in the use of highly structured rich document content, delivered across multiple media. XML will allow them to further incorporate the Web into their delivery strategies, while using Texcel Information Manager to manage their source information, including XML structure, content, metadata, and links."

-- Bruce Wolman, CEO, Texcel International


"XML only exists officially as of today; but it has already been accepted by the Web's business and technical leaders to a degree that is very gratifying; the number of implementations that are in place and working today is nothing short of astounding."

-- Tim Bray, Principal, Textuality; and Co-Editor of the XML 1.0 Specification


"Unwired Planet is pleased to support the XML specification, as it represents a significant technical advance, and will have broad implications in the wireless communications industry. We look forward to building upon XML in our UP.Link[TM] product line, and in our work with leaders in the wireless community through the WAP Forum."

-- Bruce Martin, Director of Technology, Unwired Planet; Chairman, Application Working Group, WAP Forum


"The W3C XML Working group has produced a specification that exposes the power of structured information to globally enable us in the next millenium. As the endless possibilities begin to unfold, Vignette looks forward to the future applications that can be wrought with such a powerful infrastructure."

-- Dr. Conleth O'Connell, Architect, Vignette Corporation


"webMethods congratulates the XML Working Group and the W3C on this Recommendation. XML heralds the beginning of a new era of Web Automation, making the Web truly useful for business, particularly for non-proprietary e-commerce and for application integration. As a member of the W3C and a leading provider of XML-based Web Automation and integration solutions, webMethods will continue to foster greater understanding and adoption of XML."

-- Phillip Merrick, President and CEO, webMethods, Inc.


XML 1.0 Fact Sheet


In early 1996, it was becoming clear that HTML, the most successful electronic document format in history, was suffering from growing pains. More precisely, every significant Web community wanted it to grow in a different direction. It was hard to see how to accomplish this without losing the essential simplicity and integration of display, hypertext, and GUI that have driven HTML's success.

With this in mind, the W3C in May of 1996 launched the project that has now become the W3C XML Activity which led to today's W3C Recommendation. The working group that designed and refined XML contained a unique combination of publishing-industry veterans and Web pioneers; bolstered by W3C's unique position in the center of the Web industry, and strength of its Membership -- to date more than 243 organizations strong.

Key Features

The key features of XML are:

Optimized for Use on the Internet

XML is interoperable and carefully designed to avoid the requirement for delivery of multiple document components when one will do. Furthermore, all external addressing in the XML domain is accomplished through the use of standard Web addresses.

Built on Experience with SGML

SGML is Standard Generalized Markup Language, a ten-year old ISO standard that has proved invaluable in large-scale publishing applications in the public and private sectors. XML, while much simpler than SGML, and optimized for network applications, is fully compatible, thus leveraging the substantial installed base of SGML tools and experience.

Easy to Process

Programs to process XML are easy to write. Within a few days of the first public draft, freeware implementations arrived on the Internet. The number of implementations is now well into double digits, and is rapidly growing.

Solid Base for Internationalization

XML draws on several generations of internationalization experience, and avoids the pitfalls of insufficient attention to internationalization, and of being so general as to impair interoperability. This is made possible by leveraging the use of the Unicode (ISO 10646) standard for internationalized character sets.

A General-purpose Tool

While optimized for network delivery, the design of XML includes many features designed to support authoring, indexing, and other types of application. XML's generality is evident from the fact that its first wave of applications seems to be concentrated in the areas of structured machine-to-machine data interchange, and especially generalized metadata; none of these applications were particular design targets of the group, which thought it was building a document-centric format.

Designed to Support Automation

Unlike any other Internet data format, the specification of XML includes a precise and rigorous set of rules for error and exception handling. This empowers application builders, who can create XML software using relatively lightweight and simple data-handling modules, in the expectation that the data will usually be well-formed, and that when errors occur, the correct fallback procedures are well-known and common across the industry.

Working Group Process

XML was developed, according to normal W3C practice, by a small group (the XML Working Group) which received technical input from a larger Special Interest Group, and which drove the editorial processes that led to the creation of the XML specification. W3C staff members played an integral role of guiding and facilitating the process.

The specification progressed through a set of design goals and succession of interim drafts, resulting in the XML 1.0 Recommendation. Virtually all the serious technical discussion and decision-making took place via teleconferences, email, and Web postings; very little face-to-face interaction was involved. Not only did this allow the worldwide members of the Working Group the opportunity to contribute to the development of the specification, it enabled the process to progress at an accelerated pace.

XML 1.0, at the moment of its birth, represents one of the more dramatic successes of the consensus-based, standards-building process that the W3C exists to foster.

XML Timeline


October: World Wide Web Consortium [W3C] founded


March: "SGML on the Web" is one of the Activity areas W3C uses to recruit new Members


June: Generic SGML Activity formally launched

August: SGML Editorial Review Board (ERB) and SGML Working Group (WG) officially chartered

September: Report on the SGML Activity at Seybold San Francisco; SGML Editorial Review Board (ERB) begins

November: Announcement of first XML Working Draft at SGML '96, Boston


April: First XML-link Working Draft and second XML-lang Working Draft released at WWW6

June: Third XML-lang Working Draft released

July: XML-lang renamed to XML and XML-link renamed to XLL; second XLL (XML-Link) Working Draft released

July: Old SGML ERB and SGML WG dissolved; new XML WG and XML SIG formed under new W3C process

August: Fourth XML (XML-lang) Working Draft released

November: Fifth XML Working Draft released

December: Release of the XML 1.0 Proposed Recommendation at the SGML/XML '97 Conference


February: W3C issues XML 1.0 as a W3C Recommendation

Further information on XML can be found at


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