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Spec guidelines: flavors/levels/modules/profiles/(etc.)

From: David Marston/Cambridge/IBM <david_marston@us.ibm.com>
Date: Thu, 18 Apr 2002 11:32:50 -0400
To: www-qa-wg@w3.org
Message-ID: <OFF315B407.31983F8A-ON85256B9F.00521E43@lotus.com>
I hope that I'll have time tonight to expand my previous verbiage about
the nature of the spec (content, protocol, API, etc.) and the "classes
of product" applicable to each, leading to a clearer Guideline 3 of the
Spec Guidelines.

Nearly all the guidelines 2-8 beg for easy findability within the whole
Recommendation document. Checkpoints 1.2 and 1.3, and maybe new ones,
should make it clear that one should be able to take any Recommendation,
start from its Table of Contents, and find a place where all permissible
variations are enumerated in convenient lists. This navigation may pass
through the conformance section if Ck 1.2 is followed. By "permissible
variations" I mean:
Flavors of Conformance (Gd 2)
Modules (Gd 4)
Profiles (Gd 4)
Levels (Gd 5)
Enumerated-choice discretionary items (Gd 6), ideally bundled
Deliberately unspecified facets (Gd 6)
Deprecated features (Gd 7)
Extensions (Gd 8)
Now that I have all these dimensions of variation explicitly written,
I could see the value of a Priority 3 checkpoint that complexity is
limited by not having more than two dimensions from the set {levels,
modules, profiles} and maybe other checkpoints to encourage use of
profiles or at least flavors for deprecation and bundles of
discretionary items.

(Clarification on "bundles of discretionary items": though there may
be many individual discretionary choices sprinkled throughout the Rec,
they often arise from broader ideas about how the specified software
should operate. In the XSLT case, most discretionary items offer two
choices, representing design philosophies to escalate an error or to
continue processing. Thus, XSLT could have a paragraph addressing
discretion (in its conformance section) that describes two bundles
and presents a choice between two bundles.)

To restate: when a software developer is reading a Rec, he/she wants
to find, in a reliable and systematic way, all the dimensions of
variation that are possible for a conforming product. The test lab
wants to know all those dimensions from the Rec, plus know which
choices were made by the developer for each product-under-test, thus
motivating the proforma of Guideline 9.
.................David Marston
Received on Thursday, 18 April 2002 11:36:51 GMT

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