The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is a consortium that produces the free software standards—"recommendations," as they call them—for the World Wide Web. The Consortium is headed by Tim Berners-Lee, the original creator of URL (Uniform Resource Locator), HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) and HTML (HyperText Markup Language), the principal technologies that form the basis of the Web.
A W3C standard goes through the stages Working Draft, Last Call, Candidate Recommendation and Proposed Recommendation. It ends as a Recommendation. A Recommendation may be updated by separately-published Errata until enough substantial edits accumulate, at which time a new edition of the Recommendation may be produced (e.g., XML is now in its Third Edition). Sometimes, a recommendation is withdrawn and sent through the process again, as RDF was. The W3C also publishes informative Notes which are not intended to be treated as standards.
The Consortium leaves it up to manufacturers to follow the Recommendations. Many of its standards define levels of conformance, which are required for the developers to follow. Like any standards of others organizations, W3C recommendations are sometimes implemented partially, however developer conformance has improved recently. The Recommendations are under a royalty-free patent, allowing anyone to implement them.
Unlike the ISOC and other international standards bodies, the W3C does not have a certification program. A certification program is a process which has benefits and drawbacks. The W3C has decided for now that it is not suitable to start such a program without risking to create more drawbacks for the community than benefits.
The Consortium is jointly administered by MIT (with offices on the fifth floor of the Gates Tower in the Stata Center), ERCIM (in Sophia Antipolis, France), and Keio University (in Japan). It also has a set of local representations in various countries, referred to as "W3C Offices".
Last updated: 06-02-2005 13:03:23