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Re: please rename Timed Text (TT) Authoring Format 1.0 – Distribution Format Exchange Profile (DFXP)

From: Dan Brickley <danbri@danbri.org>
Date: Wed, 30 Sep 2009 10:56:22 +0200
Message-ID: <eb19f3360909300156n7f21a93nb6cb16f0c920660c@mail.gmail.com>
To: Glenn Adams <gadams@xfsi.com>
Cc: public-tt@w3.org, plh@w3.org, ian@w3.org
Hi Glen,  and thanks also Silvia for the quick reply,

On Wed, Sep 30, 2009 at 2:03 AM, Glenn Adams <gadams@xfsi.com> wrote:
> Dan,
> The intent of the 2nd Candidate Recommendation phase is to obtain
> implementation feedback. While what you say below is of potential editorial
> import, it does not represent useful implementation feedback.

This is true. I should also congratulate you on reaching this
milestone, I know it has been a lot of work. So my apologies for
jumping straight in with complaints in my previous message. The reason
feel my comment was particularly relevant to CR was a bit meta. I
doubt your technology will get the
widespread implementor review and the community excitement that it
deserves, not because of
any engineering or technical failings, but just because of the name.

> As it is, the name of the specification is now a number of years old, and no such comment
> as you submit now has been previously received.

I have to admit I thought of raising this a few times in previous
years, but it always seemed a bit, well, cheeky.

In the last 24 hours, I have received 3 comments from members of the
TTAF1-DFXP community which I think make my point for me. You all agree
that it will be known by a short name. But you disagree on what that
name will be:

Here (below) you mention the formal W3C short name "ttaf1-dfxp", but
no other abbreviated or convenience name.  Meanwhile Silvia wrote "I
think that in common language, the format will be known as DFXP".
Yesterday, responding via Identi.ca (http://identi.ca/notice/10978839)
Philippe Le Hégaret wrote "@danbri I'm happy to convey concrete
proposals for new names to the WG. Having said that, folks know the
technology as Timed Text already."

So, what do we tell the bloggers - ttaf1-dfxp, DFXP or Timed Text?

Characteristics of a good informal name for the technology might be:

 * short
 * memorable
 * unambiguous
 * carries relevant meaning to newcomers

For communication outside the world of W3C, the immediate candidates
seem to be "DFXP" and "Timed Text". The former is short and has no
variants, whereas "Timed Text" is much less cryptic, but has some
variants; we could expect to see the whitespace collapsed for use in
tags, or the case dropped. Still "timedtext" remains meaningful.

Here's a quick survey of how these names are currently used in delicious tags:


dfxp - 27 results


timedtext - 31 results

ttaf1-dfxp - no results

This suggests that none of these options are well established
(contrast 'mathml' or 'html5', 'html' which are obvious tags).

> While I might agree that the title is a bit lengthy, it is accurate, and it reflects the end results of a
> long process which it represents well.

Sometimes it's best to move process history out of titles, before they
get to Recommendation. I say this as the lead editor of another REC,

"RDF Vocabulary Description Language 1.0: RDF Schema"

Now I could give you the whole story for why it has this unwieldy
name. But the key point is that the technology is universally known as
RDF Schema, and abbreviated 9 times out of 10 as "RDFS" (but
occasionally we see "RDF/S"). In short, we downplayed the use of the
word "Schema" due to the horrible tensions between RDF and XML people
at the time; around 1999-2000 RDFS was seen as a potential rival or
threat to XML Schema.

So why didn't we call it a basic/simple ontology language? Which is
how W3C has subsequently referred to the kind of technology that
defines the meaning of terms in RDF. Simply because the final RDFS
work was under the RDFCore WG, and an Ontology WG was beginning the
first OWL work at the same time, and that group quite reasonably
didn't want another group to go publishing a first "ontology"
recommendation in parallel.

So the awkward name was a product of W3C's process. It was, as you
say, accurate and reflects well the end results of a long process. In
retrospect, I wish we had just called it "RDF Schema (RDFS) 1.0".

> I might agree with you that the name is not one that has much marketing zing, but then again, neither do most of the other names of specifications published by the W3C.

True, but many at least have a short and simple name. "CSS", "MathML"
do the job nicely, "SPARQL", "OWL" even have a kind of obscure charm
or character.

To re-state my concerns, they are that the long name of technology is
too long, doesn't describe the technology to a non-insider audience,
and doesn't come with a simple, short and memorable abbreviated name
suited for tags, conversation, mention in blogs etc.

"This is the Candidate Recommendation of the Timed Text (TT) Authoring
Format 1.0 – Distribution Format Exchange Profile (DFXP)"

I can barely say that in one breath.

> Finally, I would note that both the name of the specification, its "short
> name" (ttaf1-dfxp), and the various URIs derived from the short name, were
> formally submitted to the Director some years ago and approved for use in
> this work. Changing it now would require requesting a change and obtaining a
> new approval.  As a result, it is extremely unlikely that the TTWG will be
> willing to adopt your suggested change.

Keep the formal short name, URL paths and so on.

One path might be to distinguish the technology from the specification
/ document / standard.

So the unfortunately named document remains "Timed Text (TT) Authoring
Format 1.0 – Distribution Format Exchange Profile (DFXP)" but the
technology it defines might simply be known as "DFXP" or "Timed Text",
or perhaps "Timed Text Web Format (TTWF)".

I understand that this seems a last minute request for a big change,
after years of work and consensus building.

But also I would stress that once it gets to REC, you'll be stuck with
it forever. We all will. At a minimum, please agree which informal
name you think we should all use in blog posts, tags etc, and make
sure this is prominently used in the abstract, in the associated W3C
site, press releases, etc.

My advice would be to take this up with the W3C Comms team (I've cc:'d
Ian) and Director during CR. If they say no, it's all fine, then I'll
drop my objection.

> I would suggest that the best way you could address this issue is to go out
> and implement exciting products based on this specification, and assign
> those products a more marketable, and memorable name.

I'll get right on that ;)


Received on Wednesday, 30 September 2009 08:56:51 UTC

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