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The W3C Process

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The W3C standards approval process includes up to 7 different steps.

W3C Specification Approval Steps

When W3C is publishing a new Web standard, the specification has worked its way from an idea through a lot of refining processes including the following:

  • W3C receives a Submission
  • W3C publishes a Note
  • W3C creates a Working Group
  • W3C publishes a Working Draft
  • W3C publishes a Candidate Recommendation
  • W3C publishes a Proposed Recommendation
  • W3C publishes a Recommendation

The next chapters of this section of W3Schools summarize the HTML, CSS, XML, XSL activities at the W3C, including status and timeline for each Web standard.

W3C Submissions

Any W3C member can submit a suggestion for a Web standard to the consortium. Most W3C Recommendations started as a submission to the consortium.

If a submission is within the W3C work area (or charter), the W3C will decide if they should start working to refine the suggestion.

W3C Notes

Often a submission to the W3C becomes a Note. A Note is a description of a suggestion refined as a public document.

A Note is made available by the W3C for discussion only. Publication of a Note indicates no endorsement by W3C. The content of a Note is edited by the member that submitted the Note, and not by the W3C. A Note may be updated, replaced, or rendered obsolete at any time. The publication of a Note does not indicate that the W3C has started any work related to the Note.

W3C Working Groups

When a submission is acknowledged by the W3C, a Working Group consisting of members and other interested parties is formed.

The Working Group will normally define a time schedule and issue a Working Draft of the proposed standard, describing the work in progress.

W3C Working Drafts

W3C Working Drafts are normally posted on the W3C Web site, along with an invitation for public comments.

A Working Draft indicates work in progress, but should not be used as reference material. The content may be updated, replaced, or rendered obsolete at any time.

W3C Candidate Recommendations

Some specifications are more complex than others, and might require more input, more time, and more testing from members and software vendors. Sometimes these specifications are published as Candidate Recommendations.

A Candidate Recommendation is also a "work in progress" and should not be used as reference material. The document may be updated, obsolete, and replaced at any time.

W3C Proposed Recommendations

A Proposed Recommendation represents the final stage of the work in the Working Group.

A Proposed Recommendation is still a "work in progress" and may still be updated, obsolete, and replaced. But even if it does not imply any official endorsement by the W3C, most often a Proposed Recommendation is close to the final Recommendation both in content and in time.

W3C Recommendations

W3C Recommendations have been reviewed by the W3C members, and have the W3C's director's stamp of approval.

A W3C Recommendation is considered a stable document and may be used as reference material.

The next chapters of this section of W3Schools summarize the HTML, CSS, XML, XSL activities at the W3C, including document status and timeline for each Web standard.


The World Wide Web Consortium

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