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Re: Proposal for Publishing REC Errata

From: David (Standards) Singer <singer@apple.com>
Date: Wed, 15 Oct 2014 14:19:40 -0700
Message-Id: <B06BC8C7-36DE-4AA1-9EC7-7362B9D443BD@apple.com>
To: W3C Process Community Group <public-w3process@w3.org>
My gut tells me that this is too manual still.

In an agile environment, I expect that we will also be keeping a ‘current’ document which is up to date. Therefore I think that the errata list is for people who ‘implemented’ something (in the broadest sense) and want to know what the group has noticed since then (and maybe fixed).

So, I’d like to understand what would be formally wrong with an errata document that says 

“The following bugs/issues have been identified again the subject document <y>. For those with fixes, the fix is represented in the latest version of the document, found at <x> (which may, of course, also have new features). The bugs/issues themselves document the problem, and the solution if known.”

Then have an auto-generated list by scanning the bug/issues database for bugs/issues against the appropriate product or with the appropriate keywords.

Then all it takes is consensus of the WG that a bug/issue is an erratum against a CR/PR, etc., the chair or editor classifies or files or tags it appropriately, and we’re done. We now publish living errata (yay!, kinda like zombies), so we easily meet the quarterly requirement.

Those who want to know what exactly changed can either read the bug or diff the documents.  That is not many people.  Most people want to know “really? surely that should be 42 not 24?” and they check the errata and it says “Issue 404: 24 is not the answer to anything, this number should be 42”.

On Oct 14, 2014, at 19:32 , fantasai <fantasai.lists@inkedblade.net> wrote:

> Background
> ----------
> The Process TF discussed errata today. There was a motion to clarify
>  a) That errata can include substantive changes, but not new features.
>  b) That errata should be maintained frequently, at least quarterly.
> The problem with merely trying to enforce more frequent updates of
> errata is that the errata-management mandated by the Process is onerous
> for editors and WGs.
> Problem
> -------
> One of the major problems with errata is that they are maintained as
> a separate document, independent of the text of the actual specification.
> This is a severe usability problem, as persons using the spec are
> expected to apply the diffs as they read.
> The current approach also means that an editor's draft which incorporates
> the changes cannot be published until the tests and passing implementations
> are available--which can take months or even years after an erratum is
> resolved by the WG. The CSS2.1 spec, for example, has not been kept
> up-to-date on /TR because of these requirements: the editor's draft accepts
> changes, but we cannot republish because not all of those changes have
> corresponding tests and passing implementations yet.
> Proposal
> --------
> The proposal to resolve this problem is to keep the errata inline in
> the official REC publication. Two options make sense to me:
>  A. Write in the errata as diff marks (using <ins> and <del>) in the
>     spec. Maintain a separate list similar to a DoC explaining
>     the changes, and possibly also tracking the status of their tests
>     and impls.
>  B. Fold in the errata completely into the spec text. Maintain a
>     separate list of changes including the exact diffs from the
>     validated REC text.
> Example
> -------
> An example of approach B can be seen in the recent Flexbox LC:
>  http://www.w3.org/TR/2014/WD-css-flexbox-1-20140925/#changes
> The changes since the previous CR have been folded into the main
> text, but we have maintained a list distilling all non-trivial
> changes to help implementations understand the differences and
> be sure to update their implementations to match the changes.
> Where a section has gone through multiple revisions to resolve
> an issue, these are folded down to a single set of diffs between
> the dated (snapshotted) drafts, minimizing the noise in the
> changes list.
> The corresponding example of A would be for the diffs to be
> written directly into the main text rather than tracked in the
> Changes list. (There would then be no up-to-date text, only
> change-marked text.)
> Related Concerns
> ----------------
> There's a separate question of how proposed corrections get
> ratified as official REC text. I'll post separately on this.
> Also, theoretically the errata page lists all known errors,
> not just those with proposed corrections. Since most groups
> track issues using some method other than an errata page on
> www.w3.org, that requirement is probably best handled as a
> link to the appropriate issues list.
> ~fantasai

David Singer
Manager, Software Standards, Apple Inc.
Received on Wednesday, 15 October 2014 21:20:12 UTC

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