Documents published at W3C

This document lists the different classes of specifications published at W3C. With no formal standing, it is intended to help the public understand the differences between the various document classes.

1. Proposals, Pre-standardization, and Notes

The classes of specifications listed in this section have not received formal review by W3C Members, by software developers, and by other W3C groups and interested parties. These specifications are not endorsed by the W3C Director and do not imply endorsement by W3C Members.

Specifications in this class MUST NOT be cited as W3C standards and MAY never become W3C standards.

Software MAY implement these specifications at their own risk. Implementation is neither discouraged nor encouraged but can contribute to proposals for further action on a specification.

1.1 W3C Community Group Report or W3C Business Group Report

A W3C Community or Business Group Report is a document (specification or other type) produced by a W3C Community or Business Group. It may be in Draft or Final form. When such a group announces a Final Report that is a Specification, the group asks participants to make patent licensing commitments for their contributions under the W3C Community Final Specification Agreement. Group reports follow the W3C Community and Business Group Process, designed to allow an easy way for innovation by individuals, outside the formal W3C standards process.

A W3C Community or Business Group report MAY get picked up by a standards organization, including W3C, to incorporate into a future Standard.

1.2 W3C Member Submission

A W3C Member Submission is a document allowing W3C Members to propose technology or other ideas for consideration.

The Member Submission process affords W3C Members a record of their contribution and gives them a mechanism for disclosures (including IPR claims).

A Member Submission MAY get picked up by a standards organization, including W3C, to incorporate into a future Standard.

1.3 W3C Notes

The classes of specifications listed in this section do not have patent licensing commitments.

These types of documents are W3C Technical Reports.

1.3.1 Working Group Note or Interest Group Note

A Working Group Note or Interest Group Note is published by a chartered W3C Working Group or Interest Group to provide a stable reference for a document that is not intended to be a formal standard, or to document work that was abandoned without becoming a standard.

1.3.1.1 Note (containing a registry)

Some W3C Notes are intended to contain a registry and to be normatively referenced by one or more Standards. Each such specification SHOULD document its own process for future updates.

1.3.2 Working Draft (intended to become a Note)

Some W3C Notes are developed through successive Working Drafts, with an expectation that they will become Notes.

1.3.3 Editor's draft (not intended to become a Standard)

An Editor's Draft is a document that W3C has not yet published, though the group responsible for the draft expects it to be published as a Note eventually. Editor's Drafts are works in progress inside a W3C Group and are not required to have the consensus of the Group participants.

2. W3C Standardization track

The classes of specifications listed in this section have received different levels of review by W3C Members, by software developers, and by other W3C groups and interested parties according to W3C Process. These specifications are intended to eventually receive endorsement by the W3C Director and W3C Members.

Software MAY implement these specifications at their own risk but implementation feedback is encouraged.

These types of documents are W3C Technical Reports.

2.1 Editor's draft (intended to become a Standard)

An Editor's Draft is a document that W3C has not yet published. An Editor's Draft is a work in progress inside a W3C Group and is not required to have the consensus of the Group participants.

2.2 Working Draft (intended to become a Standard)

A Working Draft is a document that W3C has published for review and for simple historical reference. A Working Draft is a work in progress and the content is not required to have full consensus of the Group participants, though the Group must have consensus to publish the draft. Per the W3C Patent Policy of September 2020, the first publication of the specification as a Working Draft marks the commencement of formal IPR licensing commitments.

2.3 Candidate Recommendation

A Candidate Recommendation is a document that satisfies the technical requirements established in the Group charter or in subsequent requirements documents, has consensus of the Group participants, has gotten public review, and has received formal review from other W3C Groups. A Candidate Recommendation may be in Draft or Snapshot form. Such specification is intended to gather final feedback from implementers.

2.3.1 Candidate Recommendation Draft

A Candidate Recommendation Draft integrates changes from a previous Candidate Recommendation (Draft or Snapshot) to allow for review and for ease of reference to the integrated specification.

2.3.2 Candidate Recommendation Snapshot

A Candidate Recommendation Snapshot has been reviewed by W3C Groups and interested parties. The W3C Patent Policy of September 2020 grants W3C Royalty-Free IPR licenses to these publications.

2.4 Proposed Recommendation

A Proposed Recommendation is a specification that has been accepted by W3C as of sufficient quality to become a Standard. Such specification has been reviewed by software developers, as well as by W3C Groups and other interested parties. It is published for a final review by W3C Members before approval by the W3C Director. The W3C Patent Policy of September 2020 grants W3C Royalty-Free IPR licenses to these publications.

3. Standard

The classes of specifications listed in this section have been formally reviewed by W3C Members, by software developers, and by W3C groups and interested parties. These specifications are endorsed by the W3C Director and W3C Membership (except if Rescinded).

The W3C Patent Policy grants W3C Royalty-Free IPR licenses to these specifications.

These types of documents are W3C Technical Reports.

3.1 Recommendation

A W3C Recommendation is a specification or set of guidelines or requirements that, after extensive consensus-building, has received the endorsement of W3C and its Members. W3C recommends the wide deployment of a Recommendation as a standard for the Web. Some W3C Recommendations MAY be continuously revised while others are maintained by creating new versions.

Software SHOULD implement these specifications.

3.1.1 Amended Recommendation

An Amended Recommendation is a specification that updates a previous Recommendation to include substantive changes that do not add new features. An Amended Recommendation is produced by the W3C Staff to update a Recommendation (e.g. to incorporate errata) when no W3C Working Group has a charter with a scope that covers the content of the Recommendation.

Software SHOULD implement these specifications.

3.2 Superseded Recommendation

A Superseded Recommendation is a specification that has been replaced by a newer version that W3C recommends for new adoption.

Software SHOULD implement the newer versions.

3.3 Obsolete Recommendation

An Obsolete Recommendation is a specification that W3C has determined lacks sufficient market relevance to continue recommending it for implementation.

Software MAY have implemented these specifications.

3.4 Rescinded Recommendation

A Rescinded Recommendation is an entire Recommendation that W3C no longer endorses, and believes there is no reasonable prospect of it being restored to Recommendation status.

Software SHOULD NOT implement these specifications.

4. Retired Documents

Some documents may additionally be annotated as "retired". This annotation is most commonly added to Notes about work that is no longer being actively pursued. The Status section of such documents may contain information on the state of the work at the time the work ceased. A document marked as "retired" will not be listed in W3C's default index of Technical Reports. A retired document otherwise retains the formal status of its document class.

5. References

[PROCESS]
World Wide Web Consortium Process Document. URL: https://www.w3.org/Consortium/Process/
[PATENT-POLICY]
W3C Patent Policy. URL: https://www.w3.org/Consortium/Patent-Policy/
[BCG-PROCESS]
Community and Business Group Process. URL: https://www.w3.org/community/about/process/

plh@w3.org
Comments and issues are welcome in the GitHub repo.