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Dealing with levels in specs

From: Tobie Langel <tobie@codespeaks.com>
Date: Wed, 16 Nov 2016 09:45:25 +0100
Message-Id: <1479285925.983063.789349865.52D44733@webmail.messagingengine.com>
To: spec-prod@w3.org
Cc: "Denis Ah-Kang" <denis@w3.org>, Philippe Le Hegaret <plh@w3.org>, jungkee.song@samsung.com
Hi all,

There's a growing trend in specs right now to start releasing different
levels of a same spec. It seems it's mainly done to comply with Rec
track requirements without slowing down editing too much.

I'd have plenty to say on the irony of editing different spec levels for
evergreen browsers. And I still don't understand why we're not taking
advantage of versioning to fast-track spec snapshots to secure IPR at
regular intervals instead (which would avoid sidetracking the whole
editing process). But I guess that's a conversation for another time.

So going back to spec levels, it seems there's no structure in place
within W3C to handle these levels correctly. From my conversations with
Denis, it seems W3C treats each level as a different independent entity
and then does some ad-hoc redirecting on /TR/ depending on requests from
editors or chairs.

This leads to absurd situations such as that of the Service Workers
spec. Currently, we'll find:

An October 11 WD at https://www.w3.org/TR/service-workers-1/ which point
to a "Service Workers 1" ED at https://w3c.github.io/ServiceWorker/v1/.

A June 25, 2015 WD on https://www.w3.org/TR/service-workers/ which is
obviously very much outdated and points to an ED at
https://slightlyoff.github.io/ServiceWorker/spec/service_worker/ which
itself redirects to a "Service Workers Nightly" ED at
https://w3c.github.io/ServiceWorker/ (which according to the editors is
the one which should be referenced).

W3C's API (which Specref pulls data from hourly) makes no mention of the
latter, and thus everyone is incorrectly directed to the former (with
it's level-1 ED implementors should *not* be tracking).

I've bumped into similar issues with CSP which I had to manually fix in
Specref and others before that.

If W3C wants to go down the leveled-spec road instead of fixing its IPR
process, it needs to do so in a structured and organized way:

- Automate where /tr/shortname/ points so there's consistency across
specs.
- Document this so all WGs are consistent.
- Tie all levels together and not consider them as disjoint specs.
- Make sure the model you implement works with Specref so it can be
properly integrated.
- Enforce one ED referenced per shortname (in pubrules). 

I know Denis has started working on some of this. I'm essentially
writing this email to suggest this issues get discussed in the open and
the work to fix it gets prioritized.

Thanks for your time,

--tobie 
Received on Wednesday, 16 November 2016 08:45:53 UTC

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