Projects announced, input sought for notation standards group


w3cSince the Music Notation Community Group at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) announced its formation nearly two months ago, its membership has grown to nearly 200 individuals and organizations. The group was formed and is chaired by Noteflight’s Joe Berkovitz, MakeMusic’s Michael Good, and Steinberg’s Daniel Spreadbury to take responsibility for maintaining the MusicXML and SMuFL formats in an open forum for greater usability in both web and desktop applications.

Earlier this week, the chairs published an update on the group’s blog identifying specific short-term and long-term projects to fulfill the aims of the group:

Short-term projects:

  • Build an initial MusicXML specification
  • Add support for use of SMuFL glyphs within MusicXML
  • Identify and fix any remaining gaps or adoption barriers in SMuFL
  • Document music notation use cases

Long-term projects:

  • Improve formatting support in MusicXML
  • Build a complete MusicXML specification document
  • Adding Document Object Model (DOM) manipulation and interactivity to MusicXML

The chairs are also actively seeking input and would like to receive the community’s reply to the following questions that they have asked:

  • Are these the right major goals? What’s missing? What should go?
  • Are we picking the correct short-term projects to start with?
  • Have we defined the short-term projects properly?
  • What would you most like to see done with MusicXML right away?
  • What would you most like to see done with SMuFL right away?

You can read the full post on the group’s blog, where the chairs say that “it’s tempting to indulge in a wide-ranging debate, but at this stage it’s going to be difficult to reach a conclusion through a large email discussion. So we want to begin by hearing people’s thoughts. Please send your thoughts to the contributor mailing list at”


  1. Douglas Hope

    Perhaps I’m misunderstanding something, but regardless of UI construction paradigm adopted (MVC, data-driven etc), adding either formatting support or DOM manipulation and interactivity to the MusicXML syntax seems to me to be in conflict with a number of basic architectural principles.

    This is a route to graphics dependency and protocol bloat. Strict separation of data and it’s presentation are surely fundamental.

    Modern data-driven SVG libraries such as d3.js offer a clear path to *algorithmic* as opposed to literal placement. Literal placement works for one environment. Algorithmic (justification, panning, zooming, scrolling..) for all.

    There are no such dependencies in any examples featured on the above website, and any added would likely have (for performance reasons) to be stripped by default for use in web applications.

    My two cents…

    Douglas Hope

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