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"Protocol" (was Re: [XMLVersioning-41] Scope

From: Mark Baker <distobj@acm.org>
Date: Tue, 22 Feb 2005 13:46:07 -0500
To: David Orchard <dorchard@bea.com>
Cc: Bjoern Hoehrmann <derhoermi@gmx.net>, www-tag@w3.org
Message-ID: <20050222184607.GM31439@markbaker.ca>

On Tue, Feb 22, 2005 at 09:30:01AM -0800, David Orchard wrote:
> I'm somewhat confused by what you are calling a "protocol".  I think you are calling XML 1.x, XPath, XPointer, XQuery, etc. protocols.  I tend to think of the Web in terms that the AWWW talks about, that is formats and interactions, where interactions=protocols.  The split between formats and protocols seems to be W3C + OASIS doing formats and IETF doing protocols.  Some ietf examples are tcp, ip, udp, smtp, ftp, http, sip.  

I think the word "protocol" would make for an interesting subject of
an etymological study.  Today, unfortunately, the word has different
meanings in different circles.  The IETF, for example, has long referred
to data formats as "protocols".  I looked this up a couple of years ago,
and found RFC 1026[1] as an early (1987) example;

"This RFC suggest a proposed protocol for the Internet community, and
 requests discussion and suggestions for improvements.  Distribution
 of this memo is unlimited."

Even very recent data formats[2] are still referred to that way;

"This document specifies an Internet standards track protocol for the
 Internet community, and requests discussion and suggestions for
 improvements."

But I agree with you that in other circles, including more recently at
the W3C, "protocol" has largely been reserved for the sub-data-format
layers.  Moreover, in Web services circles, the word is used to refer
only to more lower layer agreements, specifically sub-application layer.

It's an unfortunate disconnect, as IMHO, it's largely responsible for
much of Web architecture (and the architecture of other existing
Internet based applications) not being given its due in recent
distributed systems efforts such as the Grid and Web services (viz a
viz "protocol independence").

*shrug*

 [1] http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc1026.txt
 [2] http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc4010.txt

Mark.
Received on Tuesday, 22 February 2005 18:46:51 GMT

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