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Re: Proposal for Publishing REC Errata

From: <chaals@yandex-team.ru>
Date: Wed, 15 Oct 2014 17:11:26 +0200
To: fantasai <fantasai.lists@inkedblade.net>, W3C Process Community Group <public-w3process@w3.org>
Message-Id: <54111413385886@webcorp01e.yandex-team.ru>
This touches on ISSUE-141 (for the tracker)

There is a related issue (that I will raise some time) that groups are generally chartered with the usually ridiculous assumption that they will be closed in a few years - maybe about one year after the 18 months it took to create a Recommendation… but that issue is a different one.

15.10.2014, 04:33, "fantasai" <fantasai.lists@inkedblade.net>:
> Background
> ----------
> The Process TF discussed errata today. There was a motion to clarify
>    a) That errata can include substantive changes, but not new features.
>    b) That errata should be maintained frequently, at least quarterly.
> The problem with merely trying to enforce more frequent updates of
> errata is that the errata-management mandated by the Process is onerous
> for editors and WGs.

I don't understand that, since the Process says "you have to track them" and doesn't mandate how. 

I suggest we keep the "how" out of the Process.

I believe the immediate problem is that telling Working Groups they have to do something nobody in the group wants to do doesn't ensure that it will happen. (There are various underlying causes for this occurring… we probably see the full range in W3C)

> Problem
> -------
> One of the major problems with errata is that they are maintained as
> a separate document, independent of the text of the actual specification.
> This is a severe usability problem, as persons using the spec are
> expected to apply the diffs as they read.
> The current approach also means that an editor's draft which incorporates
> the changes cannot be published until the tests and passing implementations
> are available

On what basis? Editor's drafts can be whatever the working group agrees, and can be published whenever the Working Group agrees - in both cases this agreement is *typically* of the form "we delegate this decision to an editor".

> --which can take months or even years after an erratum is
> resolved by the WG. The CSS2.1 spec, for example, has not been kept
> up-to-date on /TR because of these requirements: the editor's draft accepts
> changes, but we cannot republish because not all of those changes have
> corresponding tests and passing implementations yet.

Do you mean you cannot republish the editor's draft as a REC unless you go through the Edited Rec steps? IMHO that's a feature, although I understand that it has costs.

> Proposal
> --------
> The proposal to resolve this problem is to keep the errata inline in
> the official REC publication. Two options make sense to me:
>    A. Write in the errata as diff marks (using <ins> and <del>) in the
>       spec. Maintain a separate list similar to a DoC explaining
>       the changes, and possibly also tracking the status of their tests
>       and impls.

This might fly, but it strikes me as an annoying way to have to read a spec, for everyone (those who want the latest version and those who don't).

>    B. Fold in the errata completely into the spec text. Maintain a
>       separate list of changes including the exact diffs from the
>       validated REC text.

I'd be surprised if this gets consensus, as it has teh same problem we already have. It just moves it from people involved with the spec to the "silent users".

> Example
> -------
> An example of approach B can be seen in the recent Flexbox LC:
>    http://www.w3.org/TR/2014/WD-css-flexbox-1-20140925/#changes
> The changes since the previous CR have been folded into the main
> text, but we have maintained a list distilling all non-trivial
> changes to help implementations understand the differences and
> be sure to update their implementations to match the changes.
> Where a section has gone through multiple revisions to resolve
> an issue, these are folded down to a single set of diffs between
> the dated (snapshotted) drafts, minimizing the noise in the
> changes list.
> The corresponding example of A would be for the diffs to be
> written directly into the main text rather than tracked in the
> Changes list. (There would then be no up-to-date text, only
> change-marked text.)
> Related Concerns
> ----------------
> There's a separate question of how proposed corrections get
> ratified as official REC text. I'll post separately on this.
> Also, theoretically the errata page lists all known errors,
> not just those with proposed corrections. Since most groups
> track issues using some method other than an errata page on
> www.w3.org, that requirement is probably best handled as a
> link to the appropriate issues list.

Yep. There's no reason not to do so, and no change required to the process.


Charles McCathie Nevile - web standards - CTO Office, Yandex
chaals@yandex-team.ru - - - Find more at http://yandex.com
Received on Wednesday, 15 October 2014 15:12:01 UTC

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