Every once in a while when someone gets frustrated by the lack of browser support for standards such as HTML and CSS (mostly CSS), the W3C is yelled at for being too slow. I think itís a little unfair.
Sure, the process of writing a W3C specification may in fact be too slow. It can (and does) take years. It would be nice if that could be sped up a bit. But I donít think that is the main reason you canít use all of the features that have already been specified.
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Often there will be several versions of Working Drafts for a given proposal. For example, the fourth Working Draft of the Document Object Model ( DOM) was published in mid-April, 1998; the first draft was in October, 1997. The number and frequency of drafts probably indicates that the DOM is nearing the next stage in the W3C process -- a Proposed Recommendation which typically lasts only a few months, providing the membership one final chance to suggest changes. A Proposed Recommendation must contain a statement indicating how the current proposal relates to existing documents and standards. Members vote on whether or not to accept the proposal as is, or with changes, or to return it to Working Draft status, or to reject it altogether (drop it from the W3C activities); members submit questions which must be addressed. After incorporating the latest comments and revisions, if the W3C members reach a consensus, the document becomes a W3C Recommendation, the highest status of such specifications. Although the W3C does not use the word "standard", a Recommendation is essentially a standard since all major browser and tools vendors will need to adhere to its descriptions and proscriptions
Any W3C member can submit suggestion for a Web standard to
the consortium. Most W3C Recommendation 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 suggestion.
Often a submission to W3C becomes a Note. A Note is a
description of a suggestion refined as public document.
A Note is made available by the W3C for the discussion only.
Publication of a Note indicate no endorsement by W3C. The
content of a Note is edited by the member that submitted the
Note, and not by W3C. A Note may be updated, replaced, or
rendered obsolete at any instant of time. The publication of a Note does
not indicate that the W3C has started any work related to Note.
W3C Working Groups
When a submission is acknowledged by W3C, a Working
Group consisting of members and other interested parties is
The Working Group will normally define a time schedule
and issue a Working Draft of the proposed standard, describing
the work in the progress.
W3C Working Drafts
W3C Working Drafts are normally posted on W3C Web site,
along with an invitation for public comments.
A Working Draft
indicate work in progress, but should not be used as reference
material. The content may be updated, replaced, or rendered
obsolete at any instant of time.
W3C Candidate Recommendations
Some specifications are more complex than others, and might
require more inputs, more time, and more testing from members and
software vendors. Sometimes these specifications are published
as a Candidate Recommendations.
A Candidate Recommendation is
also a "work in progress" and should not be used as the reference
material. The document may be updated, obsolete, and replaced at
W3C Proposed Recommendations
A Proposed Recommendation represent the final stage of the
work in the Working Group.
A Proposed Recommendation is still
"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 time and in content.
W3C Recommendations have been reviewed by the W3C member,
and have the W3C's director's stamp of approval.
A W3C Recommendation is considered as a stable document and may
be used as reference material.
The next chapters of this section of academictutorials summarize the
HTML, CSS, XML, XSL activities at the W3C, including the document
status and timeline for each Web standard.