W3C broadens community participation

The World Wide Web now offers two new platforms for developing Web standards

Hoping to broaden the input from users, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has established two new virtual working spaces for individuals and organizations to develop specifications, the organization announced Tuesday.

The idea behind these platforms is to further speed the development time of new Web technologies, noted Ian Jacobs, head of W3C communications. Advocates of a new technology can use W3C resources to organize their efforts and prepare a specification to submit to the W3C's more formal recommendation track.

The first platform, Community Groups, will allow anyone, at no cost, to create or participate in a working group. The groups themselves will decide on the topics and how to govern themselves.

The W3C has already set up eight Community Groups, including those focused on Web payments, the semantic markup of online news stories and the Open Digital Rights Language.

The second platform, Business Groups, will provide a place for organizations to hash out standards for their own specific fields, such as health care. It will also provide a launching point for these industries to get their interests conveyed to standard W3C working groups. The W3C has set up one Business Groups forum, for the oil, gas and chemical industry.

For both platforms, the W3C will provide a variety of organizing tools, including wikis, blogs, mailing lists and IRC (Internet Relay Chat) channels.

These groups are similar to the W3C's Incubator Group, Jacobs said. The Community and Business Groups are different in that they do not require participants to be members of the W3C. Also, unlike the Incubator Group, the Community and Business Groups can remain active for an unlimited period of time.

Although still active, the Incubator Group over time may be superseded by the Community and Business Groups, Jacobs said.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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