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OWL Documents and new WG (was Re: New draft charter (was Re: Responses to "Draft of charter for NextWebOnt (Proposed) Working Group"))

From: Jim Hendler <hendler@cs.umd.edu>
Date: Tue, 16 Jan 2007 17:36:27 -0500
Message-Id: <p06230917c1d2fdba5725@[]>
To: Bijan Parsia <bparsia@cs.man.ac.uk>
Cc: public-owl-dev@w3.org

Below is an excerpt of Bijan's long reply on this thread in response 
to my earlier comments about the OWL documents (his email in while is 

I concede that he makes a good point about the WG being able to make 
some of these decisions, for example splitting the Model theory into 
two documents.  However, I was raising this from a somewhat different 
point of view.  The writing of good documents is hard, and takes a 
while.  Whether the group decides to extend existing documents or 
produce new ones, I think that OWL has profited from all of the 
  1 - a formal model
  2 - a well-written reference manual
  3 - a carefully worked out and detailed example
  4 - a relatively simple overview that makes it clear to users what 
using OWL involves.
there are other documents as well (the test set and requirements 
irecommendations, the mapping to XML, the issues list) that were of 
great use during WG framing, but are probably less used now.
  I would like to see a commitment on the part of the WG (and the 
charter is where commitments usually happen) to having the four 
things above for the new OWL vocabulary introduced by the WG.  I am 
not really concerned as to whether this is done by extending the 
existing documents or by creating one (or more than one) new 
documents that explain the extensions.
  My concern is that some of the extensions (punning, qualified 
cardinality, keys) are things that are relatively complicated to 
understand how to use (I've tried to teach these things in courses) 
and thus I worry that documenting them to the satisfaction of 
document reviewers may take longer than planned, and nt documenting 
them adequately should not be an option.
  All that said, I'm not sure this requires a change in the charter - 
because the group would not be able to get the work to recommendation 
without adequate documentation and AC members like me would have the 
option of objecting if there wasn't adequate documentation, so I 
guess this just goes back in part to my worry that setting a 1-year 
expectation seems overly optimistic to me, and Bijan's argument that 
the group wouldn't have to do everything it promised isn't really 
right when you look at process - if the group decides not to do 
something, but the AC feels that that part of the charter was 
necessary to their expectations, then the documents won't get past 
the PR/CR stages
  So I guess this boils down to expressing some concerns, and saying 
that experience tells me that a group with a one year charter, no f2f 
meetings, and a large charter scope is likely to either not meet its 
goals or to end up being extended past the year.  As Dan Connolly 
said elsewhere, setting expectations right is important.  And this is 
not just to WG participants - if after 18 months this group is still 
working, there will be critics who say "see that Semantic Web stuff 
is too researchy" and that's also a problem with evetual adoption...


>  Anyway, my comments on this are that I think these are good goals, 
>but when we look at the deliverables I don't see some things I think 
>are needed
>   1 -  There are a set of existing recommendation docs, esp. the 
>model theory, the guide, the reference manual and the overview which 
>are important to OWL.'s use.   The new charter says the group will:
>  The working group will work to ensure a smooth transition from OWL to
>  OWL 1.1 by providing suitable outreach documents (whether new or as
>  updates to existing documents), and by striving to maximize backwards
>  compatibility, especially of ontologies.
>  I'd like to see a specific commitment to extending the 4 documents 
>I mention above - doesn't mean new ones couldn't be written, but a 
>group updating a spec should update the mandatory documents

On the grounds above I'm very reluctant to see this this into the 
charter. For example, I think that refactoring the Semantics and 
Abstract Syntax document into separate Functional Syntax, Semantics, 
and Mapping to RDF documents is likely a very good thing (all these 
areas are in the current S&AS document!). I am *very* reluctant 
*either* way to constrain the working group in this regard. That is, 
I am comfortable to leaving it to the group whether to directly 
update the S&AS document "in place" or to split it up. I am not 
comfortable seeing either as part of the charter.

It is not unusual for a WG to change the "shape" of recommendations 
in a new incarnation (see, RDF Model and Syntax vs. the set of spec 
RDF Core developed), so I don't see allowing that freedom is out of 
the norm for W3C charters. OTOH, some charters explicitly require 

I believe that there are decent arguments on both sides (for various 
cases) and that the WG should marshall the evidence they need to make 
a decision (e.g., comparing the documents; thinking about what needs 
to be added; looking at current WG practice; checking log files for 
traffic; etc. etc.).

Prof James Hendler				hendler@cs.rpi.edu
Tetherless World Constellation Chair		http://www.cs.umd.edu/~hendler
Computer Science Dept			301-405-2696 (work)
Rensselaer Polytechnic Inst			301-405-6707 (Fax)
Troy, NY 12180
Received on Tuesday, 16 January 2007 22:37:15 UTC

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