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Propsed response to QA-WG

From: Sandro Hawke <sandro@w3.org>
Date: Thu, 19 Jun 2003 09:18:12 -0400
Message-Id: <200306191318.h5JDICXA016860@roke.hawke.org>
To: www-webont-wg@w3.org

There is an @@@ in the middle pending resolution of my suggestion from
a few hours ago on linking our documents to each other.

    -- sandro


To: karl@w3.org, www-qa@w3.org
Subject: Re: QA Review of owl-semantics

In-Reply-To: <a05200f02bad5de373280@[]>
References: <1051801689.6599.267.camel@dirk.dm93.org> <a05200f02bad5de373280@[]>

Dear Karl and QA Working Group members,

This is a reply from the Web Ontology Working Group (WebOnt) to your
comments (a QA review) [1] on our Last Call version of "OWL Semantics
and Abstract Syntax" ("S&AS") [3].  Dan Connolly sent a partial reply
[2] only to Karl, which left several issues open.  This message
addresses all issues except checkpoint 13.2 on which the editors are
contacting you separately.

First, I need to apologize for us not properly reviewing and
commenting on your Last Call draft of the "QA Framework: Specification
Guidelines" [4] before your deadline.  Each point below, addressing
your comments on our spec is in a sense a comment on your spec.  We
hope that even at this late date you find our comments helpful.

1. We have decided to publish our specification in the form of several
   documents which are expected to have somewhat different audiences.
   You have reviewed only one of the six and so missed most of the
   (informative) background and explanatory material, as well as the
   (normative) test suite and conformance section.   S&AS [3], the
   document you reviewed, stated:

	    This document is designed to be read by those interested
	    in the technical details of OWL. It is not particularly
	    intended for the casual reader, who should probably first
	    read the OWL Guide [OWL Guide]. 

   @@@ It has since been changed (but not yet republished) to include
   a more prominent reference to the Document Roadmap in "OWL
   Overview" [5].

   We believe many checkpoints not met by S&AS alone are fully met by
   the OWL specification as a whole.  These include (in the order
   given by your review) 1.1, 2.2, 3.4, 3.5, 10.1, 13.1, 1.4, 3.1,
   13.4, 14.1, 14.2, and 2.3.  Most of these are addressed in OWL Test
   Cases [6], which is in Last Call until 27 June. The remaining
   checkpoints on which you noted non-conformance are discussed below.

2. Regarding checkpoint 9.1 ("Indicate if the specification is
   extensible."): this is a difficult and perhaps ill-defined issue in
   our design space, being layered on RDF.  Members of our working
   group have written academic papers on the subject of syntactic
   vs. semantics extensibility here.  Meanwhile, there is, as yet, no
   experience with vendors or a marketplace to use as a practical
   guide.  To try to craft a statement which would thread the
   technical difficulties and yet still help shape a hypothetical
   future market was not seen as a productive use of Working Group

   Personally, I would be happy to discuss definitions of
   extensibility in the RDF arena with you, but the Working Group
   considers this issue closed.  [7]

3. On checkpoint 13.2 ("Distinguish normative and informative text")
   the Working Group feels that the style for making this distinction
   is a matter of editorial discretion, best done with an
   understanding of a particular document and its audience.  The
   editors of S&AS have agreed to discuss this directly with you.

In more general feedback on your specification, there were some
opionions within the working group that might be of interest to you:

  a.  Some people find the QA guidelines impossible to apply in a
      useful way to their work.  OWL is specifically designed to be
      useful into a future of unforseeable software systems.  Its
      design involves techniques (model theory) which make this
      possible but which do not necessarily mesh well with such QA
      notions as "conformance requirements".  We believe our documents
      taken as a whole do still meet the QA guidelines, but to some
      extent they do so as an aside, in OWL Test Cases [6]; the
      primary specification (S&AS [3]) defines precisely what OWL is
      without using the language of conformance requirements.

      In particular, on conformance keywords (checkpoint 13.1), we
      generally find "MUST is for agents" [8] a compelling argument.
      A formal language is what it is; only processors should be
      considered to conform in the MUST/SHOULD/MAY sense.

  b.  There is also an opinion, widely held in the group, that
      specifications and rationale should be kept separate.  The
      public list archives provide plenty of rationale, sometimes
      conflicting; to include that debate in the specification would
      furthur increase its already significant complexity.  I'm
      reminded of ARM [9] and AXML [10]; providing rationale is nice,
      but is often best done off to the side for a formal language.
      (Your rationale sections are much more important, given the
      human context of your spec.)

I hope you find these explanations and comments useful.  I would be
happy to continue discussion of your specifications.  Meanwhile, Karl,
please let me know (with a cc: public-webont-comments@w3.org) whether
this reply is satisfactory in addressing your group concerns about our

    -- Sandro Hawke, W3C (Semantic Web Advanced Development)
       writing on behalf of the Web Ontology Working Group

[1] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-webont-comments/2003Apr/0064
and http://www.w3.org/QA/2003/04/QA-Rev-owl-semantics-all
[2] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-webont-comments/2003May/0002
[3] http://www.w3.org/TR/2003/WD-owl-semantics-20030331/
[4] http://www.w3.org/TR/2003/WD-qaframe-spec-20030210/
[5] http://www.w3.org/TR/owl-features/#s1.1
[6] http://www.w3.org/TR/owl-test/
[7] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-webont-wg/2003Jun/0170
[8] http://www.w3.org/2001/01/mp23
[9] http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0201514591
[10] http://www.xml.com/axml/testaxml.htm
Received on Thursday, 19 June 2003 09:18:14 UTC

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