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working draft (draft document)

A working draft (sometimes called a draft document) is a type of technical report that is a work in progress, a preliminary form of a possible future document. A working draft indicates a commitment on the part of the issuing organization to do further work in the area outlined in the document. Several revisions of the working draft may be issued before the final document is written, or the document may be made obsolete by future developments.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) provides extensive guidelines for their own Working Drafts, which may be followed by other groups. W3C Working Drafts must include a provision in the status section of the document specifying that it is a work-in-progress and, as such, may be updated, replaced, or made obsolete by subsequent documents and, furthermore, that it does not represent W3C or member consensus. Readers are cautioned not to use the document as a reference or, if they do cite it, to refer to it as a work in progress.

According to W3C specifications for their own technical reports, the Working Draft is the first of a minimum of four documents which may lead to a Recommendation . The Working Draft is a document put out by an associated Working Group. As long as the Working Group is together, the Working Draft can be maintained as such, but the group is responsible for ensuring that the document is updated every three months. If all the issues in a Working Draft have been dealt with, it receives Last Call Working Draft status, a (largely internal) review process which typically lasts three weeks. When the Last Call Working Draft is approved, it attains Candidate Recommendation status, which is a call for implementation and review from outside the organization. The next stage in the process is Proposed Recommendation , upon review of which, the document may achieve Recommendation status, which represents a consensus among the W3C members that the technology or ideas in the document should be widely implemented. At any point in the process, if the document fails to meet criteria, it reverts to Working Draft status.

Standards groups, such as the Internet Engineering Task Force ( IETF ), have similar processes for the advancement of proposed standards. IETF working drafts are called Internet Drafts .

This was last updated in March 2011

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