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Re: Defining "public interfaces" in specifications

From: Eric van der Vlist <vdv@dyomedea.com>
Date: 27 Oct 2002 09:24:24 +0100
To: www-qa@w3.org
Message-Id: <1035707065.5129.7.camel@ibook>

On Sat, 2002-10-26 at 16:43, Thomas B. Passin wrote:
> [Eric van der Vlist]
> >
> > If that had been the case, other specs such as XPath 1.0 could have
> > refered to "the latest definition of a XML Name" instead of nominatively
> > quote "the current definition of a XML Name in XML 1.0".
> Including  specs by reference is good, but including the "current version"
> by reference is onerous and even dangerous.  Should the referenced spec get
> changed, entirely out of your control, your product is suddenly
> non-conforming.  It would be impossible to know what really is supported or
> how a processor should work, since it might or might not have been brought
> up to the new standard.

That's because the specs do not provide "public interfaces" which they
are commited to maintain over versions or explicitely deprecate. If each
specification had to supply a list of definitions which will be
maintained over versions or slowly deprecated, other specs would know
what they can safely refer to and could afford to rely on the latest

That was the situation with libraries before we used to define publics
interfaces. The current situation isn't perfect, moving between
different versions of libraries isn't tatally seamless but IMO that's
much better and a step forward. 

> In practically all US government specs, you will see other documents
> included by reference, by always qualified by the phrase "of the exact issue
> specified".  That is how it should be.

But this is creating specs which are modular only by name and cascading
updates such as we have now with XML 1.1 which requires to update 80% of
the W3C X* specs to become effective.


> Cheers,
> Tom P
Did you know it? Python has now a Relax NG (partial) implementation.
Eric van der Vlist       http://xmlfr.org            http://dyomedea.com
(W3C) XML Schema ISBN:0-596-00252-1 http://oreilly.com/catalog/xmlschema
Received on Sunday, 27 October 2002 03:24:26 UTC

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