By Cameron Sturdevant  |  Posted 2003-01-27 Print this article Print


The W3C is hosted by three educational and nonprofit research groups: the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in Cambridge, Mass.; the INRIA (Institut National de Recherche en Imformatique et en Automatique), a network of nonprofit and governmental groups throughout Europe; and Keio University Shonan Fujisawa Campus, in Japan.

During the browser wars of the early 1990s, the W3C attempted to be the neutral group that tried to maintain peace and make progress. To that end, the W3C developed a browser/authoring tool called Amaya that was promptly ignored as a compliance testing resource. If the W3C had had a certification program at the time, the browser wars might have been averted.

Despite the W3Cs inability to put an end to the browser wars, the consortiums work on XML and Web accessibility projects—along with its success at combining people from the areas of IT, development and academia—has kept it at the center of standards development.

One example of the W3Cs work illustrates many of its best characteristics: The XML protocol SOAP 1.1 originated in the IETF. SOAP 1.1 was presented as a submission request to the W3C in early 2000, after the group performed a number of outreach activities.

W3C paid staff then evaluated SOAP and developed a draft charter that was submitted to the entire W3C membership. The charter defined the scope of the project, along with key requirements—for example, that the envelope had to be in XML, the protocol had to be in XML and the end result needed to use schemas. The charter also supplied the rationale as to why this work should be done at the W3C.

The membership feedback indicated overwhelming acceptance of the charter but with significant additions. Members wanted the work to be closely coordinated with other standards groups, including the IETF and the electronic business XML work that was jointly sponsored by OASIS and the United Nations.

The XML work generated the largest working group in the W3C, with comments from W3C members and nonmembers and with more than 400 issues raised and resolved in public discussions.

IT managers can monitor the work of the W3C to get a glimpse of cutting-edge efforts to increase the usefulness of the Web. However, the $57,500 membership dues for organizations with moderate revenues will likely keep most IT groups out.

Cameron Sturdevant Cameron Sturdevant has been with the Labs since 1997, and before that paid his IT management dues at a software publishing firm working with several Fortune 100 companies. Cameron also spent two years with a database development firm, integrating applications with mainframe legacy programs. Cameron's areas of expertise include virtual and physical IT infrastructure, cloud computing, enterprise networking and mobility, with a focus on Android in the enterprise. In addition to reviews, Cameron has covered monolithic enterprise management systems throughout their lifecycles, providing the eWEEK reader with all-important history and context. Cameron takes special care in cultivating his IT manager contacts, to ensure that his reviews and analysis are grounded in real-world concern. Cameron is a regular speaker at Ziff-Davis Enterprise online and face-to-face events. Follow Cameron on Twitter at csturdevant, or reach him by email at csturdevant@eweek.com.

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