The end of the year, which typically signals slowdown in the technology industry, instead saw a flurry of activity in the Web applications and Web services standards space.
Closing out the year, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) last month released the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (UAAG) 1.0 to help developers make Web browsers and multimedia players accessible to disabled individuals.
In addition to laying out guidelines that address accessibility requirements, UAAG 1.0 also addresses interoperability of browsers and multimedia players with technologies used to assist the disabled in accessing the Web and content from other sources.
The W3C issued UAAG 1.0 as a W3C Recommendation, which means the specification has been issued as a “standard” for developers to adhere to.
Judy Brewer, director of the W3Cs Web Accessibility Initiative International Program Office, said UAAG 1.0 is the third leg of a set of Web accessibility standards from the W3C. The other two—already in place—are the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (WCAG) and the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (ATAG). The three specifications come out of the W3Cs Web Accessibility Initiative, which has been ongoing for five years.
The three guidelines cover several areas of making a Web site or media player accessible, including visual, structural, auditory, physical, cognitive and neurological guidelines for accessibility.
Brewer said “there are already a number of features [from UAAG 1.0] implemented in different products.” The W3C extended the candidate recommendation period for the specification “to hammer out testing and also to gauge industry interest… But engineers have been waiting for this to be a W3C recommendation, and Im hoping well see accelerated adoption” of the standard, Brewer said.
Brewer said the W3C guidelines go far beyond the accessibility guidelines put forth in the federal governments accessibility standard: Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act.
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Brewer said UAAG 1.0 “has more specificity than the generic 508” and that “the Web provisions in 508 are kind of a minimal subset” of the W3C work, “derived from some of our priority one check points.”
Also in late December, the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) formed a technical committee to develop standards to automate translating and localizing software and content as a Web service. Members of the committee include DataPower Technology Inc., IBM Corp., the Localisation Research Centre at the University of Limerick in Ireland, Microsoft Corp., Oracle Corp., and SAP AG.
The group will focus on defining service types for software and content localization and translation, and will push to develop Web Services Definition Language (WSDL) documents that could be published in a Universal Description, Discovery and Integration (UDDI) registry.
OASIS officials said the OASIS Translation Web Services Technical Committee complements the OASIS XLIFF Technical Committee. The XLIFF committee is working to develop an XML Localization Interchange File Format (XLIFF).
Meanwhile, also rounding out the year, the W3C looked at ways to ensure that Web services span different languages and cultures. The W3Cs Web Services Internationalization Task Force released the first working draft of Web services internationalization usage scenarios and use cases. The goal of the draft is “to generate requirements for Web services internationalization as well as best practices for implementers,” according to the W3C Web site.
The W3C, also in December, announced that version 1.2 of the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) has moved to the candidate recommendation phase, could reach the Proposed Recommendation phase by the end of this month, and become a formal recommended standard in March, the W3C said. SOAP 1.2 is a “crucial standard” for developing Web services, and it provides stronger XML support, enhanced error reporting and bug fixes.
The W3C also moved XML Namespaces 1.1 to the Candiate Recommendation phase last month. XML Namespaces provides a way to check element and attribute names in XML.
And last month OASIS announced that some of its members had formed the OASIS Tax XML Technical Committee to create a standard for exchanging tax-related information. According to OASIS, the Tax XML committee will produce a vocabulary of terms, a repository of artifacts, XML templates, best practices, guidelines and recommendations.