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

From: Daniel Weck <daniel.weck@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 30 Sep 2009 11:20:10 +0100
Cc: Glenn Adams <gadams@xfsi.com>, public-tt@w3.org, plh@w3.org, ian@w3.org
Message-Id: <8B2FF5EC-51C6-4889-ABA7-CEB049297A5D@gmail.com>
To: Dan Brickley <danbri@danbri.org>
Hi all,

The full "technical" name is fine as long as a short "friendly" name  
is somehow promoted for use by the community at large. As it happens,  
the Working Group name is "Timed Text", with the subtitle: "Delivering  
Captioning and Video Description for the Web". Well, guess what: I  
(and most people I know) tend to use "W3C Timed-Text" or "Timed Text",  
and we only refer to "DFXP" amongst *really* geeky people (i.e.  
specification writers or implementors). Will there ever be another  
deliverable from the "Timed Text" Working Group, other than the  
affectively-nicknamed "Timed Text" specification (normatively-named  
"TTAF1-DFXP") ? My guess is no, and the terms "W3C Timed Text" will  
prevail because in most cases there will be no need to differentiate  
any further.

Admittedly, the compressed term "TTAF1-DFXP" for "Timed Text (TT)  
Authoring Format 1.0 – Distribution Format Exchange Profile (DFXP)"  
doesn't exactly stir my imagination, but then, it's a formal title for  
an authoritative specification...not a brand name.

The main confusion, I think, stems from the fact that "TTAF1-DFXP" (in  
its expanded form) mixes "Authoring", "Distribution" and "Exchange"  
within the same title, in a way that immediately challenges my mental  
expectations. These terms denote concepts that normally address very  
different requirements, so my initial impression is that the  
specification document will simply describe the DFXP profile, and that  
the actual AF is specified elsewhere (the title is leading me to  
assume that there are other Profiles defined elsewhere as well). In  
order to figure-out what this specification means in the *real world*,  
I need to read the Abstract, the Definitions, and finally the Profiles  
section which reveals several "sub-profiles" for DFXP (Transformation,  
Presentation and Full).

I am not suggesting that changes are required for the document in its  
current state. I am merely stating the fact that the confusing title  
adds another layer of perceived complexity to a specification that is,  
it is fair to say, a pretty scary beast for implementors. In any case,  
well done to the working group members for pulling this one out, we  
all appreciate your dedication and hard work.

Kind regards, Daniel

On 30 Sep 2009, at 09:56, Dan Brickley wrote:
> 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
> I
> 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 H้garet 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:
> http://delicious.com/search?p=dfxp&chk=&fr=del_icio_us&lc=0&atags=&rtags=&context=userposts 
> |danbri|&context=all||
> dfxp - 27 results
> http://delicious.com/search?p=timedtext&chk=&context=userposts| 
> danbri&fr=del_icio_us&lc=
> 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,
> http://www.w3.org/TR/rdf-schema/
> "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 ;)
> cheers,
> Dan
Received on Wednesday, 30 September 2009 10:20:48 UTC

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