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strawman document: W3C/IETF mutual review mechanics

From: Thomas Roessler <tlr@w3.org>
Date: Sun, 16 Oct 2011 17:14:24 +0200
Message-Id: <5406B966-10B5-4052-ABCA-16F6BB4C317A@w3.org>
Cc: Thomas Roessler <tlr@w3.org>, Mark Nottingham <mnot@mnot.net>, Salvatore Loreto <salvatore.loreto@ericsson.com>, Gabriel Montenegro <Gabriel.Montenegro@microsoft.com>, Arthur Barstow <art.barstow@nokia.com>
To: public-ietf-w3c@w3.org
On behalf of Mark Nottingham and myself, here's a strawman of what guidance about mutual review mechanics between W3C and IETF could look like.

This is intended to capture a mix of current practice and some immediate lessons from the collaboration around hybi / websockets.  The document does not propose any process changes on either side.  Changes to specifications that happen beyond Proposed Standard are explicitly out of scope for this document, since we don't have recent experience.

Possible destinations for this document may include a wiki page, or an individual informational i-d.

Comments and input most welcome!

Thomas Roessler, W3C  <tlr@w3.org>  (@roessler)

W3C/IETF mutual review expectations

Mark Nottingham <mnot@mnot.net> 
Thomas Roessler <tlr@w3.org>


0. Introduction

Occasionally, W3C and IETF produce specifications in close
cooperation, sometimes marked by a significant formal dependency
beween the specifications. A recent example is the websockets protocol
and API specifications produced by the IETF hybi and W3C web
applications working groups.

W3C and IETF have similar, but not identical processes; some stages
have identical names ("Last Call" in paritcular), but come with
different expectations.

The processes referred to in this document are documented in:

- RFC 2026, The Internet Standards Process, as updated

- RFC 2418, IETF Working Group Guidelines and Procedures

- W3C Process Document

1. Goals and Scope

The goal of this document is to establish mutual review expectations
and responsibilities for W3C and IETF specifications with close
dependencies. The scope of this document is limited to the phases of
the IETF process leading up to publication of a document as Proposed
Standard, ad to the phases of the W3C process leading up to
publication of a document as Candidate Recommendation, or as Proposed
Recommendation if the Candidate Recommendation step is skipped.

Both of these process steps correspond to publication of a document
for initial implementation.  In both cases, WGs may decide to further
iterate documents (possibly returning to Last Call and Candidate
Recommendation several times), or to make certain changes as a result
of implementation experience that are incorporated as a document
proceeds further along the standards track.  Where that is the case,
groups should fail in favor of mutual review and transparency.

2. Context: The W3C/IETF liaison relationship

Working groups on both the W3C and IETF side have WG chairs who are
responsible for managing the day-to-day operation of the group.

The liaison relationship between the IETF and the W3C is managed by
the IAB and the W3C staff, respectively. Traditionally, the IAB
assigns one or several individuals from the IETF community as IETF
liaisons to the W3C, and one or several W3C staff members serve as the
W3C's liaisons to the IETF. The relationship mostly operates through
regular telephone conferences (typically in the run-up to major
meetings), e-mail discussions on the public-ietf-w3c@w3.org mailing
list, and through attendance of major meetings. Formal liaison
statements are used under exceptional circumstances.

The liaison telephone conferences are attended by the assigned
liaisons from both sides. The IETF Application Area Directors and the
W3C Director have standing invitations to join the liaison meetings.
IAB members may join the meetings.

Other individuals with specific expertise participate at the
invitation of the liaisons.

It is appropriate to copy the (archived) public-ietf-w3c@w3.org
mailing list on relevant communications between IETF and W3C
participants.  The archives of this list serve to document agreements
about review time lines, scopes, and issues.

The W3C/IETF liaison team is generally involved in chartering
negotiations that require mutual review.  The liaison team keeps an
online list of WGs to which the coordination expectations in this
document apply at @@.

3. Working Group Coordination

3.1 Specification Development before Last Call

Working Group coordination is expected to be largely informal and on a
technical level. Where groups have closely related deliverables,
overlap between working groups and direct collaboration between
document editors are useful instruments toward ensuring appropriate

Responsibility for this day-to-day relationship lies with the
respective Working Group chairs. The formal liaisons are available to
facilitate introductions and enable chairs to discharge this
responsibility appropriately.

3.2 Moving to Last Call

Where documents have dependencies that create mutual review
expectations, Working Groups should align their Last Call time lines.

In the IETF process, the decision to request IETF Last Call is
often preceded by a Working Group Last Call; issuing a Working Group
Last Call is at the discretion of the WG chair.

In the W3C process, the decision to request W3C Last Call is often
preceded by a cooling off period during which the WG has no particular
open issues to work on, but leaves a window for participants to
perform a final review.

The goal of this document is to ensure that substantive technical
cross-review occurs before IETF Last Call or W3C Last Call is
requested, but at a stage where specifications are stable enough for
outside review. When exactly that threshold is crossed is at the
discretion of the WG chairs.

Therefore, Working Group chairs work with their peers in the other
organization to ensure that the respective specifications have
received substantive mutual review before they request W3C and IETF
Last Call.

This goal can be achieved by requesting outside review during the
equivalent of WG Last Call.

Requests for review are most useful if they include pointers at the
relevant drafts, set expectations about open issues and stability of
the documents, and give a time line during which review comments will
be expected.

Working Group chairs cannegotiate other mechanisms and specific time
lines (including joint meetings, joint editors, earlier review
schedules, ...) that ensure the same goal of mutual review. To ensure
useful coordination, such negotiations often involve the W3C and IETF
liaison team, the W3C staff contacts, and the relevant Area Directors
(or their designees).

The chosen review mechanism is best documented in a note to
public-ietf-w3c@w3.org; where a formal exchange of calls for review
occurs between two groups, that call for review is appropriately
copied to public-ietf-w3c@w3.org.

Where mutual review leads to additional technical changes, it is the
chairs' responsibility to ensure awareness by the other Working Group
of these technical changes, and to negotiate time lines going forward
with the assistance of the liaison team.

3.3 Last Call and Beyond

While Working Groups are welcome to exchange technical reviews during
Last Call, this process is intended to produce a coherent set of
specifications that permit joint external review prior to entering
Last Call. Therefore, we expect major last call comments between W3C
and IETF Working Groups to be a rare occurence that is to be avoided.

In the W3C process, a W3C Last Call is ended by a Working Group
requesting transition to Candidate Recommendation (or, in exceptional
cases, Proposed Recommendation). A precondition to this transition is
the availability of a disposition of comments that documents how the
Working Group has taken Last Call comments into account. When changes
made in response to Last Call comments would invalidate prior review,
it is common for groups to iterate several Last Call cycles.

A W3C last call comment period lasts at least three weeks.

In the IETF process, the IESG takes comments from the IETF community
for a period of at least two weeks, and can then request changes to
the document, or further advance the document. (See section 8 of RFC
2418.) An IETF last call is not intended to serve as a vehicle for
substantive comments.

Where W3C and IETF documents have significant mutual dependencies,
W3C and IETF Last Call announcements should be notified to the chairs
of the respective Working Groups, copying public-ietf-w3c@w3.org.

The IESG's publication of a document as a Proposed Standard and the
W3C's publication of a document as Candidate Recommendation (or
Proposed Recommendation) should be synchronized, and the time line
planned in advance.

This planning discussion appropriately occurs on an IETF/W3C liaison
call that is attended by the relevant Area Directors and Working Group

It is the responsibility of the Working Group chairs on both sides to
request this agenda item in a note to the public-ietf-w3c@w3.org
mailing list, as they plan for Last Call. The W3C and IETF liaisons
will track these requests, and will ensure that the necessary
participants attend the requisite liaison calls.
Received on Sunday, 16 October 2011 15:14:36 UTC

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