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Re: Umbrella Specifications Discussion

From: Lofton Henderson <lofton@rockynet.com>
Date: Wed, 15 Jun 2005 10:12:05 -0600
Message-Id: <>
To: Dominique HazaŽl-Massieux <dom@w3.org>
Cc: "'www-qa-wg@w3.org'" <www-qa-wg@w3.org>

At 03:34 PM 6/15/2005 +0200, Dominique HazaŽl-Massieux wrote:
>Le mardi 14 juin 2005 ŗ 13:54 -0400, Karl Dubost a ťcrit :
>I guess the question remains to me "what is it that we want to say about
>this concept that deserves a name and a definition?". In other words, I
>have no problem calling what you describe above an umbrella
>specification, but what do you think are special about these? What is
>going to be the core of the discussion about it?

 From my memory, this arose because we wanted to make sure that a 
collection of specifications somehow included proper conformance 
clause(s).  [Counter example:  the CSS3 collection]  That could be 
accomplished by having an "umbrella specification", that defined any 
conformance material or requirements common to the collection.

More below...

>As a reminder, we introduced this concept back in Reading; here are the
>relevant bits of the minutes:
>[KD issue - Principle A1.1 - Include a Conformance Clause]
>[KD] A technology can be defined by multiple docs/specs at different
>levels of maturity.
>How can we define a Conformance Clause that applies to the whole set?
>(Eg, CSS3.)
>[PC] In the Java world we create an "umbrella specification" (meta
>specifiction) that
>covers all.
>[MS] This is a more generic problem.
>[LR] Every document must contain the clause or point to it.
>[KD] RDF has multiple docs, but they are at least moved forward together
>[PC] If there are multiple docs/specs, there must be a high-level document
>that pulls them all together.
>[LR/PC] What about "component" specs that are referenced/included in
>multiple other specs, such
>as XPath or Xinclude?
>[PC] They must define conformance requirements that will be used
>by/incorporated into the
>higher-level specs.
>[MS] This discussion should be "higher level" (not buried in a single
>[all] Where could we put such a discussion?
>[PC] Suggests adding a Concepts or Terminology section
>[MS] Beware trying to set W3C policy as a whole
>[PC] We can make some recommendations: if you're creating a spec
>designed to be
>incorporated into other specs, define your conformance clause
>accordingly, and if you're
>creating a family of specs, create a higher-level 'umbrella spec' that
>defines the
>relationship between the various components, and what it means to
>conform to the
>collection as a whole
>[AT] Remember that users/implementors will ultimately choose what pieces
>or components
>they want to conform to.
>[PC] WSI is an example of a "collective" or "integration" spec.
>[PC] There are three models: standalone spec, spec intended to be part
>of a "family",
>and spec intended to be incorporated into another spec.
>[DH] A specification by definition includes normative content?
>[agreement] Add a concepts section in the Introduction, addressing these
>The main point that was made in this discussion was regarding different
>degrees of advancement inside a family of technologies; but I don't
>think there is any difference between that situation and a spec
>depending on another specification with a separate degree of advancement
>in general.

[Disclaimer... I wasn't at Reading but dialed in some.]

I don't think "different advancement" is necessarily the issue.  The issue 
still exists when they (multiple parts) are all done, if either:

-- they contain multiple conflicting conformance bits;

-- or, they contain no clear conformance bits at all, that allow you to 
draw conformance conclusions about the collection as a whole or common 
conformance concepts that apply to multiple parts.

"Umbrella specification" is a handle for dealing with that.

Received on Wednesday, 15 June 2005 16:12:09 UTC

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