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What is W3C? Definition, Purpose, and Application Standards

Last updated: Sep 09, 2022

What is W3C?

W3C stands for World Wide Web Consortium. It is an international organization that creates protocol standards and global web format guidelines to improve the quality of websites around the world.

A Brief History of the W3C

The World Wide Web Consortium is an organization founded in October 1994 by Tim Berners-Lee, founder of the World Wide Web, at the Computer Science Laboratory of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Berners-Lee's team collaborated with the European Organization for Nuclear Research, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the European Commission to establish the organization.

The second branch was founded in 1995 at the French Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation (INRIA) as the host for the European region. The following year, a third branch was established at Keio University, Japan. In 1997, the organization started to branch to several countries around the world, such as Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, India and Sweden.

Several policies have been set by the organization, including the establishment of HTML and CSS as website standards in 1996 and the addition of XML as an approved standard in 1998.

W3C Organizational Structure

The World Wide Web Consortium members are people from various IT backgrounds and number in the thousands. The organization does not have a traditional organizational structure or primary physical office, but is led by a director and CEO. Tim Berners-Lee serves as director and Dr. Jeff Jaffe acts as the CEO.

Here are the various ranks at the organization and their functions:

  • The Advisory Committee is in charge of reviewing the role in the process and selecting the Advisory Board and Technical Architecture Group. The members of the Advisory Committee consist of representatives of each member.
  • The Advisory Board acts as the advisory body.
  • The Technical Architecture Group is tasked with documenting new principles of web architecture.
  • The Chartered Group is invited members and experts, in charge of producing most of the work.

The Purpose of W3C

The purpose of the organization is to act as a forum that brings together parties from various IT backgrounds to work together in developing website standards. Its main focus is to create protocols and guidelines that are beneficial for the growth and continuity of website technology.

W3C Application Standard

The application standards are determined based on a consensus process conducted by the different teams in the organization. The purpose of this standard is to ensure that every website is of good quality. Everyone can access the application standards.

The application standard contains a list of recommended and widely accepted programming languages ​​for web development. While they can improve website quality, the standards are not formally enforced and there are no penalties if you don't follow them.

The following are some of the application standards:

  • HTML (Hypertext Markup Language)
  • CSS (Cascading Style Sheet)
  • XML (Extensible Markup Language)
  • XHTML (Extensible HTML)
  • VXML (Voice XML)
  • JSON-LD (JavaScript Object Notation for Linked Data)
  • CGI (Common Gateway Interface)
  • DOM (Document Object Model)
  • SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics)
  • GRDDL (Gleaning Resource Descriptions from Dialects of Languages)
  • RDF (Resource Description Framework)
  • SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol)
  • SPARQL (Protocol and RDF Query Language)
  • SRGS (Speech Recognition Grammar Specification)
  • SSML (Speech Synthesis Markup Language)
  • WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communications)
  • WSDL (Web Services Description Language)


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