W3C Community Group Update

W3C Community Group and Business Group LogoDuring our April meeting at Musikmesse, we discussed moving further development of MusicXML and SMuFL to a Music Notation Community Group at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Joe Berkovitz from Noteflight summarized the advantages in his presentation:

  • Consortium-based governance is the best way forward
  • Standards-track process will force clear specification
  • Consortium ownership assures openness and fairness
  • Membership supplies diverse, fresh viewpoints
  • Leadership supplies continuity, domain expertise
  • Consortium supplies adjacent expertise, technical/legal/process support.

The overall sense of the meeting was that moving to a W3C Community Group was a good idea. Even some who had reservations based on past standards experiences concluded that if Joe, Daniel, and me all thought that the W3C was the best way forward, that was good enough for them.

Since that time, Daniel and I have been working with senior management at our respective companies to get approval to move development of these music notation software standards to a W3C Community Group. We have made good progress so far. We are optimistic (but not certain!) that we will have something to announce relatively soon.

In the meantime, I would like to reopen the discussion to address any questions and concerns that MusicXML community members may have about this potential change. I have started a new topic on the MusicXML forum at:

Please note that W3C Community Groups are a much lighter-weight organization than a W3C Working Group. Community Groups produce reports rather than recommendations as their specifications. W3C membership is not required to participate, and there are no membership fees or travel requirements. Companies may of course join the W3C to access the full benefits of the consortium’s web standards resources, but this is in not required.

You can learn more about W3C Community Groups at:

Members of the Community Group do need to sign a Contributor License Agreement to belong to the group and contribute to report and specification development. That agreement is available at:

Final specifications (for instance, a potential MusicXML 4.0 developed at the W3C) are released under a Final Specification Agreement, available at:

You may want to have your legal team review these agreements in advance to address any questions about signing up to participate in the community group.

Daniel, Joe, and I are excited about the potential of this move to build on the successes of MusicXML and SMuFL, and make them even more powerful tools for representing music notation on the Web, in print, and in new interactive media yet to be invented.

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