XML-DEVIL Proposal - was Open Standards Processes

Matthew Gertner matthew at praxis.cz
Sat Apr 25 19:51:50 BST 1998

(In light of my previous posting I should probably keep my mouth shut, but
the discussion has now become concrete enough that it surely can no longer
be labelled "pontification". Ah well...)


>Please understand that I'm not arguing against your idea, which has
>occurred to others before you and undeniably has a certain amount of
>charm.  I'm just trying to tell you from personal experience that
>maintaining the confidentiality requirement is an enormous pain in the
>ass and will most definitely crimp your style.

Until a few weeks ago I was the W3C representative for my previous employer
(POET Software), and my personal experience was that the burden of
maintaining the confidentially requirement was far outweighed by the
advantages of being able to do your work on the basis of current specs and
discussion. Joining the proposed XML-DEVIL would be associated with a
certain cost, so everyone and his brother is not going to do so. Besides
this, I suspect that most people with whom we would be interested in sharing
confidential information (i.e. other XML developers) would join up anyway if
this idea ends up flying. Finally, my experience with the XML developer
community is that it is a remarkably intelligent and disciplined (if
somewhat opinionated :-) group who would be very rigorous about not spilling
the beans.

>Right.  And one of the things I was trying to say more subtly before
>but apparently need to be more direct about is that you are imagining
>a group of potential competitors (rather than the employees of a
>single corporation) deciding which *one* of them is going to represent
>the group to the W3C Director.  What fun you'll have with that part!
>And what a wonderful time you'll have specifying in detail the
>procedures you will follow to determine what position that one person
>represents on each issue!  Not to mention the procedures for deciding
>who gets to be on which working group...

I dare say the same applies to the OMG (a current member). I honestly don't
see a problem here, for several reasons: 1) We are talking about a group of
people who are extraordinarily open about sharing their work with others
(witness SAX and the myriad of implementations, extensions, etc. that are
now freely available). 2) Even the interests of competitors are likely to be
aligned on most issues. 3) Participating in a working group implies a very
significant time investment, so the crown will in most cases go to whomever
(if anyone) is willing to make this investment. 4) We could agree to provide
concrete input only on issues where we have a clear consensus. In other
cases, we would revert to a pure observer role, which is of great value in

>I completely understand and sympathize with this view.  All I'm trying
>to say is that I believe you can accomplish more with less effort by
>utilizing an existing corporate infrastructure (including web site,
>mailing lists, board of directors, marketing staff, industry contacts,
>conference schedule, and the rest of the apparatus that you will
>eventually need) that is capable right now of serving exactly the
>function that you describe.

Is OASIS a member of the W3C? If so, you are absolutely right. Why reinvest
the wheel? On the other hand, I checked the member list and couldn't find
them. If OASIS is not a member, joining it would certainly interest many on
this list, but it doesn't address the issue of gaining advanced access to
W3C works-in-progress.



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