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

Re: Conformance and Implementations

From: Alex Rousskov <rousskov@measurement-factory.com>
Date: Tue, 9 Oct 2001 11:11:46 -0600 (MDT)
To: "Sean B. Palmer" <sean@mysterylights.com>
cc: www-qa@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.BSF.4.10.10110091042310.29024-100000@measurement-factory.com>

On Tue, 9 Oct 2001, Sean B. Palmer wrote:

> Please note that the W3C WAI ERT Working Group have been developing a
> language/framework for making evaluations (which includes conformance
> claims) for quite some time now, called "EARL" or the "Evaluation And
> Report Language" [1].
> The language is being developed with the Semantic Web and QA domains
> heavily in mind, and at the recent F2F we discussed that QA may be an
> appropriate venue to host EARL development (rather: implementation) once
> ERT gets dissolved.
> We also discussed starting work on a Test Point Definition Language (TPDL),
> although this is just a sketchy idea for now.
> [1] http://www.w3.org/2001/03/earl/
> [2] http://www.w3.org/WAI/ER/2001/10/f2f-notes

This is exactly the path I am afraid of:

    0.  W3C publishes cool specs
    1.  People start using (and abusing) them
    2.  W3C decides it needs more control on what
        people can say about their support of the W3C specs
    3.  Formal conformance/compliance guidelines are introduced
    4.  Guidelines are ignored by the majority of developers 
        (see this thread on several reasons why)
    5.  W3C decides guidelines are ignored because it is difficult
        to express and test them and because many developers
        interpret them differently
    6.  We need EARL!
    7.  EARL, a parser-friendly RDF-based language, is developed 
        and guidelines are converted to use it
    8.  Guidelines are still ignored by the majority of developers;
        necessity to master a yet another human-unfriendly and
        domain-ignorant language is yet another reason why
        many small developers would have to ignore the EARL-based
    9.  W3C realizes that it needs to apply legal pressure on
        developers to follow the guidelines: If you want to say
        "I am XYZ compliant", you must pass a EARL/TPDL test suite!
    10. Big companies start arguing that their competitors are
        abusing test suites. They also realize the opportunity
        to narrow down the competition using legal barriers.
    11. W3C designates an independent 3rd party to administer the
        tests. Now the testing is fair and impartial.
    12. An independent 3rd party charges $$$ to verify conformance,
        blocking the way for small developers to make any legal
        conformance claims
    13. W3C becomes a trademark of a few big players and, slowly,
        fewer and fewer folks, including those big players, care
        about W3C and what it used to stand for.

Humans are born with desire to act when something is wrong.
Unfortunately, ability to predict the consequences of our actions is
rare. We have to be careful not to make the situation worse when we
try to fix things. Especially, when things that seem to be
more-or-less working already.

Received on Tuesday, 9 October 2001 13:11:56 UTC

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