World Wide Web Consortium Issues "Architecture of the World Wide Web, Volume One" as a W3C Recommendation

Author(s) and publish date


Core Web Architectural Principles Described and Explained



Technical Architecture Group Distills Conventional Wisdom

In November 2001, W3C responded to a clear demand from the Web community and the W3C Membership to write down a description of the architecture of the Web. Aspects of the architecture have been described and debated many times in the past, but the overall principles which make the Web as we know it work, and work well, have not previously been described in a single, coherent document by a group of acknowledged experts, and reviewed in such a focused manner by the community.

"All TAG participants, past and present, have had a hand in many parts of the design of the Web," explains Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director, and co-Chair of the TAG. "In the Architecture document, they emphasize what characteristics of the Web must be preserved when inventing new technology. They notice where the current systems don't work well, and as a result show weakness. This document is a pithy summary of the wisdom of the community."

Wide Community Review Ensures Real World Relevance

The TAG conducted its work on an active, public mailing list, which helped ensure that its description of the Web reflected the real world concerns of developers. In some cases, principles were found to be widely applicable. In others, principles had a more restricted domain or represented tradeoffs between conflicting requirements. The TAG documented the points to be considered, to allow technology developers to make well-informed choices. "The discussion process produced a wider appreciation of the design principles on which the Web is based," notes Chris Lilley, TAG participant, "and the Architecture document crystallizes that shared understanding for easy reference."

Essential Web design principles should not be merely understanding among small groups of expert developers. By collecting and debating issues in an open forum, the TAG has documented and clarified those principles which have stood the test of time and are widely implemented. As the Web continues to grow on an unprecedented scale, new generations of developers need to have a concise reference to the important design concepts. Newer additions can then take advantage of a secure and scalable foundation. It is gratifying to note that some university courses in Distributed Systems have already taken up the TAG's work as a course text, and it is already influencing product design.

Authors Represent Expertise in Web and Applications Technologies

The eight participants in the W3C Technical Architecture Group (TAG) elected by the W3C Advisory Committee and appointed by the Director are Dan Connolly (W3C), Paul Cotton (Microsoft), Roy Fielding (Day Software), Chris Lilley (W3C), Noah Mendelsohn (IBM), Norman Walsh (Sun Microsystems), and co-Chairs Stuart Williams (Hewlett-Packard) and Tim Berners-Lee (W3C). Past TAG participants are Tim Bray (Antarctica Systems), Mario Jeckle (DaimlerChrysler), and David Orchard (BEA Systems). Norm Walsh and Ian Jacobs (W3C) served as editors.

Architectural Work Continues

Volume One of the Web Architecture significantly advances the state of the art, documenting long-established principles which are well understood and proven in use. In addition, the TAG is tracking principles that are currently being tested in rapidly evolving areas. Future TAG publications will build on Volume One with lessons learned from integrating Web services, the Semantic Web, and mobile Web. A single shared Web space is of global benefit. This goal can only be achieved if all the parts work together harmoniously.

An election for the four open TAG seats begins today and runs through mid-January 2005. The W3C Advisory Committee will cast their votes during this time for these positions. Berners-Lee has already nominated Vincent Quint of INRIA to fill the vacant appointed seat.


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 Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) in the USA, the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM) headquartered 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, and various prototype and sample applications to demonstrate use of new technology. More than 350 organizations are Members of W3C. To learn more, see the W3C Web site:


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Testimonials for W3C's Architecture of the World Wide Web, Volume One


HP is delighted to see the publication of "The Architecture of the World-Wide Web, Volume One" as a W3C Recommendation. We believe that this publication represents a significant step forward in capturing, documenting and building consensus around the principles and good practices that have made the Web what it is today and acts as a spring-board for both Web Services and the Semantic Web. HP is pleased to have been able to contribute through its support of Stuart Williams' active participation as an elected member and Co-chair of W3C's Technical Architecture Group.

-- Jim Bell, Director of Industry Standards, HP


The publication of "Architecture of the World Wide Web" is an important step forward for the industry. This architecture document sets out the principles that will facilitate continued success of the Web as the premier platform for information-sharing and distributed applications. Consistent with IBM's ongoing commitment to open standards for the Web, we are pleased to contribute to the work of the Technical Architecture Group. We congratulate the W3C on their ongoing stewardship of the fundamental Web standards, and particularly on this important publication.

-- Karla Norsworthy, Vice President, Software Standards, IBM


INRIA welcomes the publication of "Architecture of the World Wide Web" as a W3C Recommendation. This important document constitutes the cornerstone of Web technology. By providing a clear statement of the underlying principles of Web architecture, we believe it will promote research and help build the Web of the future on a solid foundation.

-- Gérard Giraudon, Director for Development and Industrial Relations, INRIA

MobileAware Ltd

MobileAware welcomes this milestone publication, which outlines how the Web should work and will work into the future. As the Web extends its reach into the mobile space, this publication will be a key guide, and MobileAware will be following the good practice and sensible approach outlined therein. As a developer of solutions for the evolving mobile Web, we are particularly pleased to see the W3C maintain its leading role, and we will continue to support this activity through our work in the Device Independence Working Group. MobileAware congratulates the W3C Technical Architecture Group for a job well done.

-- Dr Rotan Hanrahan, Chief Innovations Architect, MobileAware Ltd.

Sun Microsystems

Sun Microsystems welcomes the approval of Architecture of the World Wide Web as a W3C Recommendation. This document articulates what makes the Web work today and provides a strong foundation for moving forward as Web computing continues to evolve. We believe that core architectural specifications are important in realizing Sun's vision of open, interoperable standards and are plaeased to have been able to contribute to this important work.

-- Ed Julson, Engineering Director of Web Technologies, Sun Microsystems


Top4Office are pleased to see "Architecture of the World Wide Web" become a W3C Recommendation. We feel that this represents an important step forward in the progress of the World Wide Web and look forward to seeing the benefits in the future work of the W3C and all others who make use of this valuable document. We encourage all who are involved in the development of technology and solutions for the Web to take notice of this important development and to implement the sound principles it contains in their future work.

-- Nigel Peck, Webmaster, Top4Office

Volantis Systems Ltd

Volantis welcomes the excellent publication "Architecture of the World Wide Web" as a W3C Recommendation. It brings clarity to the description of the operation of the web as well as defining good practice. This is important for Volantis as we enhance and extend our leading device-independent mobile and multi-channel technology. It is also a key resource for the work of the Device Independence Working Group (DIWG), helping crystalise our thinking about delivering the Web to anyone using any device.

-- Dr. Rhys Lewis, Director of Software Architecture, Volantis Systems Ltd. and Chair, W3C DIWG

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