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This was superseded in August 2015 by a newer version.

This page answers questions related to the adoption of the 2014 Process. Please direct questions and comments to (archive).


What is the URI of the new W3C Process

The URI is

That version includes small editorial fixes based on W3C Membership review of the 6 May 2014 Proposed World Wide Web Consortium Process Document.

When does the new W3C Process take effect?

5 August 2014.

What are the benefits of the new W3C Process?

  • It is shorter and focuses on clarifying what requirements and obligations apply to whom. This hopefully makes it easier to read and understand.
  • It allows Working Groups to determine the most effective way to get review by the broader community, rather than imposing a "Last Call" review, which often brings reviews too late in the development process.
  • It is designed to make it easier to develop specifications with methodologies such as test-driven incremental standardisation, as well as more traditional approaches.

What are the main changes from the 2005 Process?

The only section of the process that changed was Chapter 7 (The Recommendation Track).

Within that section, the biggest change is that Last Call Working Draft is no longer a separate step, and instead its function as a signal for "final" review and the beginning of the last patent exclusion opportunity is on the publication of a Candidate Recommendation. Other significant changes:

  • The Director must address dissenting AC review comments publicly, 2 weeks before publication of a Recommendation.
  • Errata must not be made normative except by revising a Recommendation
  • If W3C closes a Working Group, W3C must republish the group's unfinished work as Working Group Notes.
  • Working Groups should publish abandoned documents as Working Group Notes.
  • Working groups should document known implementations and must document expected next steps for each publication
  • Interest Groups may now publish W3C Notes
  • Some requirements are enforced later in the process.
  • Advisory Committee review now begins at the same time as Candidate Recommendation, but still ends no less than 4 weeks after publication as a Proposed Recommendation.
  • Implementation requirements for passing beyond Candidate Recommendation are not simply listed as "2 interoperable implementations", instead a new sections gives guidance on what is considered when assessing "adequate implementation experience".
  • Instead of relying on a Last Call publication for adequate review, Working Groups need to demonstrate "wide review" as part of the requirements to publish a spec as Candidate Recommendation, while leaving them to achieve this as they see fit.
  • There is a stronger emphasis (without formal requirements) on getting review and testing implementations as early as possible. How to do this is left to each Working Group to determine.

A diff document highlights all other changes in the document to front matter, appendix, etc.

Who created the new W3C Process?

Chapter 12 of the 2005 W3C Process describes the evolution of the Process: "The W3C Process Document undergoes similar consensus-building processes as technical reports, with the Advisory Board acting as the sponsoring Working Group."

After an initial period of work within the Advisory Board, the discussion about and development of the new process was carried out in public, using the facilities of the Revising W3C Process Community Group.

Impact on Working Groups

When does the new Process take effect?

5 August 2014.

Must all groups immediately publish under the new Process?

No. Per a 19 March 2014 message to the Membership, the new Process will be phased in over a 2-year period.

When can groups start to publish specifications under the new Process?

2 September 2014.

What is the transition procedure for groups?

Per a 19 March 2014 message to the Membership, once the Director has announced adoption of the new Process:

  • Existing groups
    • For existing CRs: Any Working Group with Recommendation Track documents published as Candidate Recommendation specifications under the 2005 Process may republish those documents as Candidate Recommendation documents under the new 2014 TR Process.
    • For existing LCs: Any Working Group with Recommendation Track documents published as Last Call Working Drafts under the 2005 Process will continue to follow the 2005 Process for those documents.
    • For pre-LC Drafts: Any Working Group that started work prior to the adoption of the new TR Process may choose either the 2005 TR Process or the new 2014 TR Process for its Recommendation Track deliverables not yet published as Last Call [2005] Working Drafts.
    • Two-year transition: However, the Working Group should move any Recommendation Track document that has not reached Recommendation to the 2014 TR Process within 24 months of the adoption of this new TR Process.
  • New groups: All new Working Groups whose charters are either in AC review or whose charters are about to be approved by the Director must follow the new 2014 TR Process. For the purposes of this transition, rechartered groups are not new groups.
  • Process identification: All Technical Reports at maturity levels prior to Recommendation published after the adoption of the revised Process will state whether they were developed under the 2005 Process or under the new 2014 Process.

How does a group decide to publish under the new Process?

Each group uses its own decision-making apparatus to determine whether to publish an eligible document under the 2014 Process. Participants may register a Formal Objection.

Groups may make a single decision to publish all eligible Technical Reports under the 2014 process, or one decision per document. Chairs SHOULD notify the group of how they plan to manage the decisions. Chairs SHOULD record decision(s) to publish under the 2014 Process on the group's public list. Each technical report published after the 2014 Process takes effect will include a reference to the governing Process.

Do Working Groups still publish "heartbeat" drafts under the new W3C Process?

Yes. The new W3C Process states "A Working Group should publish a Working Draft to the W3C Technical Reports page when there have been significant changes to the document that would benefit from review beyond the Working Group. If 6 months elapse without significant changes to a specification a Working Group should publish a revised Working Draft, whose status section should indicate reasons for the lack of change. "

Without a "Last Call" signal, how do groups get review under the new Process?

The new process offers new flexibility and we will need to gather experience. The community has begun to document good practice for reviews.

How do publications change under the new Process?

Per the transition procedure, each specification published after the process launch will identify the governing process. This will be expressed through a new publication requirement and corresponding checker test that will look for the information in technical reports published after the launch date. ReSpec has been updated to automatically generate the pubrules-compliant text.

The merger of Last Call and Candidate Recommendation also has an impact on these resources, which have been updated:

If you find other resources that need updating, please write to

What other resources are affected by the adoption of the new Process?

Impact on People Who Review or Implement Specifications

When should I review a specification under the new W3C Process?

W3C invites review whenever a new draft is published in the list of W3C technical reports.

Note To help reviewers, editors must provide public documentation of all substantive changes since the previous publication.

When should I implement a specification under the new W3C Process?

This depends on your goals.

  • If you implement a specification before Candidate Recommendation, you can help the Working Group identify problems, but you should expect significant changes and be prepared to make significant changes to your implementation.
  • If you wait until a specification is a Recommendation, you can be sure that the published Recommendation will be fairly stable (although it is possible to update it with clarifications, including clarifications that affect conformance).

Note also that any specification can become obsolete, and different market segments will take up or move on from a given version of a specification, or even an entire technology stack, at different rates.

What happened to Last Call?

Under the 2005 Process, the purpose of Last Call was to signal the following:

  • the Working Group believes that it has satisfied its relevant technical requirements (e.g., of the charter or requirements document) in the Working Draft;
  • the Working Group believes that it has satisfied significant dependencies with other groups;
  • other groups SHOULD review the document to confirm that these dependencies have been satisfied.

A Last Call also triggered an Exclusion Opportunity under the W3C Patent Policy.

Those goals have been preserved in the new W3C Process, but with more flexibility as follows:

Signal for review
  • This is made more flexible. Working Groups may request review of different parts of a specification at different times, by publishing Working Drafts. This enables them to stabilize parts of a specification in a more modular way.
  • The final opportunity for review is now Candidate Recommendation. However, reviews SHOULD be done earlier, as it is possible that the specification is implemented and in use, which makes it less likely implementers will readily change things unless serious problems emerge.
  • Many groups under the 2005 process held a final "pre-last-call" review. The new W3C Process does not stop them from continuing to do so.
Exclusion Opportunity
  • This now begins with the publication of a Candidate Recommendation. In all other respects, it is the same as under the 2005 Process.

So Candidate Recommendation has a new definition?

Yes, but only mildly different than before.

  • The same: Working Groups are still required to show that they have got wide review and addressed the issues raised, and it is the phase where implementation experience is formally codified.
  • Used to be at Last Call: The Patent Policy Exclusion Opportunity formerly triggered at Last Call still exists; it simply happens at CR.
  • Sooner: Formal Advisory Committee review now begins at CR (rather than at Proposed Recommendation). However, there is still a Proposed Recommendation period that, in effect, signals the end of the formal Advisory Committee review.

Impact on W3C Patent Policy Operations

How will Members experience the new W3C Process in terms of the Patent Policy?

Calls for Exclusion that used to happen at Last Call will now happen at Candidate Recommendation. The frequency and duration of these opportunities remain the same.

Longer answer

The goal of the Patent Policy is to help assure Recommendations produced under this policy can be implemented on a Royalty-Free (RF) basis. However, the Patent Policy allows Members formally participating in a Working Group to exclude patent claims from the W3C Royalty-Free Licensing Requirements. Two publication events under the W3C Process trigger well-defined exclusion opportunities: First Public Working Draft and Last Call Working Draft. The former is part of the new process, but the latter has been replaced by Candidate Recommendation.

W3C for now has chosen not to update the Patent Policy to reflect this change. Instead, the Process Document states that 'Candidate Recommendation is the state referred to in the W3C Patent Policy as "Last Call Working Draft".'

Under the new Process, Calls for Exclusion will therefore be sent when a technical report is published as a Candidate Recommendation. Because some groups will be publishing under the old Process and some under the new, Advisory Committee Representatives will receive a mix of old and new Calls for Exclusion.

One other note: it is W3C practice to enable Working Groups to update their publications during open exclusion opportunities. However, W3C does not make it a practice to publish final Recommendations before all exclusion opportunities have ended. Up to now, this practice has been documented in the W3C Patent Policy FAQ. Consistent with that practice, the new W3C Process includes an explicit recommendation that a Proposed Recommendation review period end no sooner than 10 days after the end of any open exclusion opportunity.

Can a document be a Proposed Recommendation or Recommendation if there is an open exclusion opportunity?

This is Issue 100 in the W3Process Community group.

Currently there is no restriction on this. Under the 2005 Process, A Last Call review period can be 3 weeks, and it is possible to transition immediately to Proposed Recommendation, which must be at least 4 weeks. It is therefore possible to publish a Recommendation during the 60-day exclusion period, however W3C has not done so, and has a practice of not doing so.

Under the 2005 Process it is possible to publish a Proposed Recommendation 4 weeks after the beginning of Candidate Recommendation, and in principle possible to publish a Recommendation 3 days before the end of the relevant Exclusion Period. In practice this is unlikely. The 2014 Process introduces a statement that W3C SHOULD NOT close a PR review until at least 10 days after any exclusion period closes, in [file:///Users/chaals/Documents/w3c/ab/AB/tr.html#rec-pr Section 7.5]

The use case that motivated not making this a "MUST" is for making a Recommendation based on an old technology - for example, if the content of the W3C Note on a Date-Time format for the Web (which will be 17 years old in September 2014, is based on older work, and codifies a widely-used way of writing a date) were made into a Recommendation, there are no rational grounds for assuming that a valid patent will be excluded, and the Director may therefore decide there is no need for the extra delay.