W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-qa@w3.org > October 2001

Re: Conformance and Implementations

From: Alex Rousskov <rousskov@measurement-factory.com>
Date: Mon, 8 Oct 2001 12:55:14 -0600 (MDT)
To: Karl Dubost <karl@w3.org>
cc: www-qa@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.BSF.4.10.10110081237500.81961-100000@measurement-factory.com>
On Mon, 8 Oct 2001, Karl Dubost wrote:

> Oh no, it's no a system to claim more conformance. Conformance is
> still an open issue to be solved. You can just see it as a way to
> declare what's and what's not implemented inside a product.

I can see only one way this system may be widely used in practice.
That way is providing an extremely-easy-to-use form with checkboxes
that developers can use to create a "we support these features"
snapshot. If the specs are simple enough that such a form can be built
a priory, it may be worth the effort attaching that form to the
protocol specs.

I think it is unrealistic to expect most developers to create and
maintain a very detailed and up-to-date list of supported attributes
for each individual element. Most small developers do not have
resources for that. Most big companies with marketing departments,
will be reluctant to have an unchecked box where their competitor has
a checkmark, publicly acknowledging their product is inferior (in a
certain aspect). It is much easier and cost effective for them to just
say "we support XYZ".

> I think, people would be happy, to have such a list when they are
> using a product. At that time, people claim: "I implement fooML",
> but it doesn't mean anything for users, because you can implement
> only <tag_001> of the fooML specification which contains almost
> 100 tags.

There is an incentive for the user. There is little incentive for the
developer/companies -- it is not the quality of the product or
documentation that drives the market. And yes, marketing claims mean
little to [smart] users.

> If people implementing specs claim "I implement fooML and this is
> the list of implemented features as a list of elements and a list
> of attributes for each individual element."
> This claim doesn't say anything about conformance. Is the feature
> right implemented, is it compatible with other tools, etc? It's
> just a list of what it's done and what's not. IMHO, it's an
> improvement, because now we don't know at all what's inside a
> product.
> It can be seen as an improvement for the user. It could help a
> small developper to see exaclty what he's implementing :) (good
> start or index for a documentation) it could be the first step
> towards real conformance, and maybe certification in the future.

True. Unfortunately, maintaining a detailed up-to-date list of
implemented attributes (or good documentation!) is costly. That is why
most open-source projects have crappy (IMHO) documentation and most
commercial products have crappy free support. You have to look beyond
the "is it good?" argument. You have to ask "how much does it cost?".

Received on Monday, 8 October 2001 14:55:24 UTC

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