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Ten years later, the Web gets a blueprint

On 10th anniversary, W3C publishes first document laying out Web's structural principles and practices.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary this month, the Web's leading standards group published what it called a seminal document on first principles.

The W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) on Wednesday released Architecture of the World Wide Web, Volume One, an ex post facto conceptual blueprint of the Web that it's pushing as a practical guide for designers of Web software.

"I'm hoping that people who have a lot of experience doing other stuff besides the Web will use it to get up to speed on how to design Web applications," said Dan Connolly, a W3C technical staffer and member of its Technical Architecture Group (TAG), which prepared the architecture document. "If your expertise is in financial transaction processing and you want to hook your thing to the Web, this can tell you everything you absolutely must know."

The architecture document comes not only as the W3C turns 10, but as its library of recommendations reaches daunting proportions. The document should help the average designer negotiate that thicket.

"This is a very timely and well-written document," said Burton Group analyst Peter O'Kelly. "Instead of saddling you with an infinite number of different specs, this is the snapshot that helps people to understand what's most important. Before, it was, 'Here's W3.org, have fun, see you in a few weeks.'"

Subjects covered in the document include how the Web links documents to one another, how it scales to large numbers of surfers, and design pitfalls to avoid.

The document isn't just for geeks, according to Connolly.

"It's supposed to be fairly accessible," Connolly said. "Some of it is in story form, and we got a pretty wide audience to review it."

The TAG, formed three years ago, will convene with new members in February. At that time, the group will decide what to cover in Volume 2 of the architecture document. Potential subjects not covered in Volume 1 include Web services, Web-based applications, and the Web on mobile devices.

Current members hail from companies including Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, IBM and Hewlett-Packard.