W3C

W3C Strategic Highlights
April 2019

This report was prepared for the April 2019 Québec City W3C Advisory Committee Meeting (W3C Member link). See the accompanying W3C Fact Sheet — April 2019. For the previous edition, see the October 2018 W3C Strategic Highlights. For future editions of this report, please consult the latest version.

A Chinese translation is available.

Introduction

Pipeline of innovation for the Web [Lightbulb design credit: Freepik]

This report highlights work of consolidation, optimization and enhancement of the existing landscape, as well as innovation, incubation, and research for the growth and strength of the Web.

30 working groups and a dozen interest groups enable W3C to pursue its mission through the creation of Web standards, guidelines, and supporting materials. To track the tremendous work done across the Consortium, we have gradually moved to using Github which allows homogeneous work-spaces and better monitoring and management, including contributions from non-participants in working groups, and specification maintenance.

To the pipeline of innovations to enable the Web to scale to meet the new challenges and opportunities, we are making recent additions:

As the Web evolves continuously, some groups are looking for ways for specifications to do so as well. So-called "evergreen recommendations" or "living standards" aim to track continuous development (and maintenance) of features, on a feature-by-feature basis, while getting review and patent commitments.

Continued progress in many areas demonstrates the vitality of the W3C and the Web community. We see the maturation and further development of an incredible number of new technologies coming to the Web.

Future Web Standards

W3C has a variety of mechanisms for listening to what the community thinks could become good future Web standards. These include discussions with the Membership, discussions with other standards bodies, the activities of thousands of participants in over 300 community groups, and W3C Workshops. There are lots of good ideas. The W3C strategy team has been identifying promising topics and invites public participation.

strategy funnel

Future, recent and under consideration Workshops include:

The Strategy Funnel documents the staff's exploration of potential new work at various phases: Exploration and Investigation, Incubation and Evaluation, and eventually to the chartering of a new standards group. The Funnel view is a GitHub Project where new area are issues represented by “cards” which move through the columns, usually from left to right. Most cards start in Exploration and move towards Chartering, or move out of the funnel.

Public input is welcome at any stage but particularly once Incubation has begun. This helps W3C identify work that is sufficiently incubated to warrant standardization, to review the ecosystem around the work and indicate interest in participating in its standardization, and then to draft a charter that reflects an appropriate scope. Ongoing feedback can speed up the overall standardization process.

Since the previous highlights document, W3C has chartered a number of groups:

Meeting Industry Needs

Web Payments

several implementations of the Web Payments specs

All Web Payments specifications

W3C's payments standards enable a streamlined checkout experience, enabling a consistent user experience across the Web with lower front end development costs for merchants. Users can store and reuse information and more quickly and accurately complete online transactions.

The Web Payments Working Group has closed all final issues on the Payment Request API (version 1), aiming to publish a Recommendation in May 2019.

As work continues on the Payment Handler API and its implementation (currently in Chrome), one focus in 2019 is to increase adoption in other browsers. Payment method availability is a key factor in merchant considerations about adopting Payment Request API. The ability to get uniform adoption of a new payment method such as Secure Remote Commerce (SRC) also depends on the availability of the Payment Handler API in browsers, or of proprietary alternatives.

Since October 2018, a number of organizations have joined W3C for payments work, including Wells Fargo.

Digital Publishing

ebook reader and bank notes

All Digital Publishing specifications, Publication milestones

The Web is the universal publishing platform. Publishing is increasingly impacted by the Web, and the Web increasingly impacts Publishing.

Topic of particular interest to [email protected] include typography and layout, accessibility, usability, portability, distribution, archiving, offline access, print on demand, and reliable cross referencing. And the diverse publishing community represented in the groups consist of the traditional "trade" publishers, ebook reading system manufacturers, but also publishers of audio book, scholarly journals or educational materials, library scientists or browser developers.

The Publishing Working Group, which had a busy face-to-face meeting last October at TPAC 2018, met jointly with the Publishing Business Group to determine more concentrated 2019 goals, such as:

The W3C Workshop on Digital Publication Layout and Presentation (from Manga to Magazines) held in September 2018, in Tokyo, has increased the interest in the area of “visual narratives”, i.e., Bandes Dessinées, Manga, or Comics. A new BD Comics Manga Community Group is set up, which may lead in the future to further Working Group activities.

The Publishing Business Group, which helped set up a call for funding for EPUBCheck thanks the DAISY Consortium and all contributors of the releases. EPUBCheck 4.2.0. brings complete support to the latest specification of EPUB: EPUB 3.2.

EPUB 3.2 is developed in the EPUB 3 Community Group and coordinated by the Publishing Business Group. Technical work is complete and the focus is on testing, EPUBCheck, and writing a business document encouraging the community to move to EPUB 3, moving away from EPUB 2.

Media and Entertainment

Word bubbles for entertainment needs

All Media specifications

The Media and Entertainment Interest Group serves as steering committee for media-related features that create immersive experiences on the Web and maintains the Media and Entertainment Road-map which highlights Web technologies that can be used to build media applications and services, as well as known gaps to enable additional use cases. Current goals are to:

Timed Text

The Timed Text Working Group develops and maintains formats used for the representation of text synchronized with other timed media, like audio and video, and notably works on TTML, profiles of TTML, and WebVTT. Notable recent progress includes:

Second Screen

While the Second Screen Community Group aims to improve interoperability of Open Screen Protocol between screens across implementations, the Second Screen Working Group develops features to close the gap between the Web and existing TV platforms.

Second screen support is enabled by the Presentation API and the Remote Playback API.

Immersive Web

'AR Headsets (Magic Leap, Hololens, etc.) could replace phones, TVs and screens' (Feb. 2017)

Hardware that enables Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) applications are now broadly available to consumers, offering an immersive computing platform with both new opportunities and challenges. The ability to interact directly with immersive hardware is critical to ensuring that the web is well equipped to operate as a first-class citizen in this environment.

The Immersive Web Working Group which launched in September 2018, published early February a First Public Working Draft of the WebXR Device API.

Immersive computing introduces strict requirements for high-precision, low-latency communication in order to deliver an acceptable experience. It also brings unique security concerns for a platform like the Web. The WebXR Device API provides the interfaces necessary to enable developers to build compelling, comfortable, and safe immersive applications on the Web across a wide variety of hardware formfactors.

Web & Telecommunications

The Web is the Open Platform for Mobile. Telecommunication service providers and network equipment providers have long been critical actors in the deployment of Web technologies. As the Web platform matures, it brings richer and richer capabilities to extend existing services to new users and devices, and propose new and innovative services.

Real-Time Communications (WebRTC)

WebRTC logo

All Real-Time Communications specifications

WebRTC has reshaped the whole communication landscape by making any connected device a potential communication end-point, bringing audio and video communications anywhere, on any network, vastly expanding the ability of operators to reach their customers. WebRTC serves as the corner-stone of many online communication and collaboration services.

The WebRTC Working Group aims to bringing WebRTC 1.0 to Recommendation by the end of 2019, while it has started early work on the next generation of WebRTC technologies.

Automotive

illustration for W3C and Automotive

All Automotive specifications

To create a rich application ecosystem for vehicles and other devices allowed to connect to the vehicle, the W3C Automotive Working Group is delivering a service specification to expose all common vehicle signals (engine temperature, fuel/charge level, range, tire pressure, speed, etc.)

The Vehicle Information Service Specification (VISS), which is a Candidate Recommendation, is seeing more implementations across the industry. It provides the access method to a common data model for all the vehicle signals –presently encapsulating a thousand or so different data elements– and will be growing to accommodate the advances in automotive such as autonomous and driver assist technologies and electrification.

The Automotive and Web Platform Business Group acts as an incubator for prospective standards work, and is focusing on a automotive big data. Access to the wealth of information that W3C's auto signals standard exposes is of interest to regulators, urban planners, insurance companies, auto manufacturers, fleet managers and owners, service providers and others. In addition to components needed for data sampline and edge computing, capturing user and owner consent, information collection methods and handling of data are in scope. Work has been progressing on these "off-boarding" data challenges that will enable a robust automotive data marketplace. There is an early discussion about forming a transportation data working group at W3C that would work on standardizing various cloud-based transportation data solutions including but not limited to data coming from the cars alone.

Web of Things

artwork cityscape at night and connected pictograms

All Web of Things specifications

W3C's Web of Things work is designed to bridge disparate technology stacks to allow devices to work together and achieve scale, thus enabling the potential of the Internet of Things by eliminating fragmentation and fostering interoperability.

Primarily, it provides mechanisms, using JSON-LD, to formally describe IoT interfaces that allow IoT devices and services to communicate with each other and across multiple networking protocols. Secondarily, it provides a standardized way to define and program IoT behavior. W3C is focusing on standards for the interface between applications and application platforms, as well as the standards needed to enable open marketplaces on the scale of the Web. By contrast, OCF, oneM2M, Bluetooth, and OPC, are focused on standards for particular IoT platforms.

The Web of Things Working Group is finishing the initial standard for Thing Descriptions, with support from the Web of Things Interest Group. A W3C Workshop to promote the Web of Things is taking place early June.

Strengthening the Core of the Web

HTML

All specifications of the Web Platform Working Group HTML logo

The Web Platform Working Group continues the development of the HTML language and provides specifications that enable improved client-side application development on the Web. Rencent progress includes:

W3C and WHATWG have been exploring effective partnership mechanisms for HTML and DOM. In the initial extension of the Web Platform Working Group, we noted that while the WHATWG and the W3C continue negotiations to provide a single authoritative specification for HTML and DOM, no joint work with the WHATWG would advance on the W3C Recommendation track; we believe that having two distinct HTML and DOM specs claiming to be normative is generally harmful for the community.

The group is preparing a proposal to re-charter, adding new deliverables incubated in the Web Incubator Community Group (WICG).

CSS

All CSS specifications image demonstrating discretionary ligatures

CSS is a critical part of the Open Web Platform. The CSS Working Group gathers requirements from two large groups of CSS users: the publishing industry and application developers. Within W3C, those groups are exemplified by the Publishing groups and the Web Platform Working Group. The former requires things like better pagination support and advanced font handling, the latter needs intelligent (and fast!) scrolling and animations.

What we know as CSS is actually a collection of almost a hundred specifications, referred to as ‘modules’. The current state of CSS is defined by a snapshot, updated once a year. The group published 19 documents since October 2018 (Working Drafts, Candidate Recommendations).

Fonts

fonts illustration

W3C relaunched the Web Fonts Working Group last December. Its mission remains to develop specifications that allow the interoperable deployment of downloadable fonts on the Web, with a focus on Progressive Font Enrichment as well as maintenance of WOFF Recommendations.

Recent and ongoing work includes:

The group will produce a report summarizing the strengths and weaknesses of each prototype solution in the coming months.

SVG

SVG logo

All SVG specifications

SVG is an important and widely-used part of the Open Web Platform. The SVG Working Group, recently re-chartered until 2021, focuses on aligning the SVG 2.0 specification with browser implementations, having split the specification into a currently-implemented 2.0 and a forward-looking 2.1.

Audio

The Web Audio Working Group is finishing work on the Web Audio API, expecting to publish it as a Recommendation by Summer 2019. The specification enables synthesizing audio in the browser. Audio operations are performed with audio nodes, which are linked together to form a modular audio routing graph. Multiple sources — with different types of channel layout — are supported. This modular design provides the flexibility to create complex audio functions with dynamic effects.

The first version of Web Audio API is implemented in all modern browsers. Work has started on the next version, and new features are being incubated in the Audio Community Group.

Performance

pictogram illustrating performance

Web Performance

All Web Performance specifications

The mission of the Web Performance Working Group is to provide methods to observe and improve aspects of application performance of user agent features and APIs. The group published several updates to its specifications since October 2018. Notably, User Timing Level 2 became a W3C Recommendation late February. The specification, which supersedes the first version of User Timing, defines an interface to help web developers measure the performance of their applications by giving them access to high precision timestamps.

WebAssembly

All WebAssembly specifications

WebAssembly improves Web performance and power by being a virtual machine and execution environment enabling loaded pages to run native (compiled) code. It is deployed in Firefox, Edge, Safari and Chrome.

WebAssembly enables near-native performance, optimized load time, and perhaps most importantly, a compilation target for existing code bases. While it has a small number of native types, much of the performance increase relative to Javascript derives from its use of consistent typing. WebAssembly leverages decades of optimization for compiled languages and the byte code is optimized for compactness and streaming (the web page starts executing while the rest of the code downloads). Network and API access all occurs through accompanying Javascript libraries -- the security model is identical to that of Javascript.

Requirements gathering and language development occur in the Community Group while the Working Group manages test development, community review and progression of specifications on the Recommendation Track.

Testing

Browser testing plays a critical role in the growth of the Web by:

Browser Testing and Tools

pictogram illustrating testing

The Browser Testing and Tools Working Group was extended in December 2018 to maintain and iterate on the development of an updated version of the WebDriver specification –a W3C Recommendation since June 2018. WebDriver acts as a remote control interface that enables introspection and control of user agents, provides a platform- and language-neutral wire protocol as a way for out-of-process programs to remotely instruct the behavior of Web, and emulates the actions of a real person using the browser.

WebDriver is widely used day-to-day by Web developers around the world to ensure their Web applications work across multiple browsers. It is also used for cross-browser testing by browser vendors as part of the web-platform-tests effort, in order to catch and eliminate browser incompatibilities before they ship. Read more in the W3C Blog post.

WebPlatform Tests

Since 2014 W3C began work on a coordinated open-source effort to build a cross-browser test suite for the Web Platform: WebPlatform Tests, which W3C, WHATWG, and all major browsers have adopted.

In October 2018 we introduced a governance structure for WPT, consisting of a core team who are responsible for setting the overall project direction, and ultimately making final decisions. Mike Smith from W3C Japan currently serves as the W3C representative on the WPT core team.

Web of Data

Context diagram from DWBP doc

All Data specifications

Data is increasingly important for all organizations, especially with the rise of IoT and Big Data. W3C has an extensive suite of standards relating to data that were developed over two decades of experience. These include core standards for RDF, the Semantic Web and Linked Data.

The JSON-LD Working Group has recently started to work on updating the JSON-LD specification which covers a JSON based serialization of RDF. This is assisting the W3C Work on the Web of Things which is seeking to use JSON-LD to describe things as objects with properties, actions and events, independently of the underlying protocols.

A W3C Workshop on Graph Data was held in March, on emerging standardization opportunities for the digitization of industry, e.g. query languages for graph databases and improvements for handling link annotations (property graphs), different forms of reasoning that are suited to incomplete, uncertain and inconsistent knowledge, support for enterprise knowledge graphs, AI and Machine Learning, approaches for transforming data between different vocabularies with overlapping semantics, signed Linked Data Graphs, and work on improving W3C's role in respect to hosting work vocabularies and ontologies.

A follow on workshop is at an early stage of consideration in respect to time-series data, spatial data and streaming data.

W3C hosts many Community Groups working on data standards, including the rdf-dev CG and the n3-dev CG. The former is supporting the Easier RDF initiative, which seeks to make RDF, or some successor to RDF, easy enough for average developers (middle 33%) who are new to RDF, to be consistently successful. The solutions under consideration include anything in the RDF ecosystem: standards, tools, guidance, etc. All options are on the table.

Web for All

Security, Privacy, Identity

All Security specifications, all Privacy specifications

A standard for simpler and stronger authentication on the Web

WebAuthn logo

The publication of WebAuthn as a W3C Recommendation marks a milestone toward eliminating phishable passwords.

The open standard Web API gives native authentication technology built into native platforms, browsers, operating systems (including mobile) and hardware, offering protection against hacking, credential theft, phishing attacks, thus aiming to end the era of passwords as a security construct. You may read more in our March press release.

Privacy

There are security and privacy aspects to every specification. Early review is essential. Working with the TAG, the Privacy Interest Group has updated the Self-Review Questionnaire: Security and Privacy.

Other recent work of the group includes documenting browser fingerprinting and private browsing mode.

Web Application Security

The Web Application Security Working Group is moving to Proposed Recommendation Mixed Content, Secure Contexts, Upgrade Insecure Requests; and recently adopted the Feature Policy API, aiming to allow developers to selectively enable, disable, or modify the behavior of some of these browser features and APIs within their application.

Internationalization (i18n)

indic script example

All Internationalization specifications, educational articles related to Internationalization, spec developers checklist

Only a quarter or so current Web users use English online and that proportion is decreasing as the Web reaches more and more communities. To live up to the "World Wide" portion of its name, and for the Web to truly work for stakeholders all around the world engaging with content in various languages, there must be a collaboration of language experts, Web site designers, developers, and vendors who are active in moving the Web forward. To ensure a rapid response to the growth of the Web, the W3C wants to marshal the resources of organizations and experts who care about these problems and enlist their help in strengthening internationalization support for the Web.

The W3C Internationalization Initiative was set up in 2018 to supplement the core funding received from W3C Member fees to increase in-house resources dedicated to accelerating progress in making the World Wide Web "worldwide" by gathering user requirements, supporting developers, and education & outreach.

For an overview of current projects see the i18n radar. W3C's Internationalization efforts progressed on a number of fronts recently:

Web Accessibility

logo of the Web Accessibility Initiative

All Accessibility specifications, WAI resources

The Web Accessibility Initiative supports W3C's Web for All mission. Recent achievements include:

Last, but not least, there are accessibility aspects to most specifications. Check your work with the FAST checklist.

Outreach to the world

W3C Developer Relations

web developers icon

To foster the excellent feedback loop between Web Standards development and Web developers, and to grow participation from that diverse community, recent W3C Developer Relations activities include:

W3C Training

w3cx logo

In partnership with EdX, W3C started a MOOC training program in June 2015: W3Cx. We count over 800K students from all over the world.

W3Cx offers a complete "Front-End Web Developer" (FEWD) professional certificate program that consists of a suite of five W3Cx courses on the three foundational languages that power the Web: HTML5, CSS and JavaScript.

W3C Liaisons

handshake and icons representing liaisons

Liaisons and coordination with numerous organizations and Standards Development Organizations (SDOs) is crucial for W3C to:

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