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RE: [www-qa] Re: Conformance and Implementations

From: Mark Skall <mark.skall@nist.gov>
Date: Mon, 22 Oct 2001 09:15:58 -0400
Message-Id: <>
To: "Lofton Henderson" <lofton@rockynet.com>
Cc: www-qa@w3.org
At 08:05 AM 10/22/01 -0600, Lofton Henderson wrote:

>I completely agree about "willy-nilly" -- we can't allow arbitrary 
>functional changes under the guise of a defect correction.  But I don't 
>see leaving a mistake to stand -- especially if an open consensus process, 
>which hopefully involves the implementation builders and application 
>users, determines that it needs to be fixed.
>In my experience with graphics standards, there are lots of examples of 
>defects where the statement is clear and unambiguous, but wrong.  For 
>example, ISO processed a (CGM) defect report in which there was an error 
>(off by 1) in the count and indexing of weights and control points in a 
>NURBS specification.  It was clear and unambiguous.  However, if you used 
>it for computation, it would give a bad result.
>I think the best we can do to mitigate potential interoperability problems 
>(because of products and applications vested in the error) is find and fix 
>such errors fast.  In the SVG WG, building the suites during the late 
>phases of completion of the standardization process really helped a lot.

Ok, let's agree and call it the "willy-nilly" doctrine.  I would consider 
your example above as an example of either a typo or something that 
happened during a brain-dead instance.  I was really referring to a 
requirement that was reached by consensus and then re-considered 
(or  someone new convinced the decision-makers to change their 
mind).  Errors should be corrected but consensus requirements should not be 
changed, at least until a new version of the standard is promulgated.

Mark Skall
Chief, Software Diagnostics and Conformance Testing Division
Information Technology Laboratory
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
100 Bureau Drive, Stop 8970
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8970

Voice: 301-975-3262
Fax:   301-590-9174
Email: skall@nist.gov
Received on Monday, 22 October 2001 09:14:40 UTC

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