OSS vs W3C? was: Next Round

Matthew Sergeant (EML) Matthew.Sergeant at eml.ericsson.se
Thu Jan 21 10:49:04 GMT 1999

> -----Original Message-----
> From:	Paul Prescod [SMTP:paul at prescod.net]
> "Matthew Sergeant (EML)" wrote:
> > 
> >         Is this neccessarily a bad thing? I don't know - we've never
> really
> > experienced anything different. And yet when I compare it to the
> software
> > world, and read "The Cathedral and The Bazaar", I can't help wondering
> if
> > developing standards in a Bazaar might be a better model. It would
> certainly
> > be interesting to try.
> It wouldn't really be an experiment. Many standards are made in more open
> models. For instance the IETF model is very open. The W3C was formed in
> large part in reaction to the failure of the IETF HTML working group
> "bazaar" to complete a post-HTML 2.0 specification. We could argue whether
> that was a particular failure or systemic.
	I think that failure occured because of in-fighting between
Microsoft and Netscape who both had too much power in that group (my humble

	I don't think it's /quite/ the same though. A re-reading of The
Cathedral and The Bazaar will tell you the following points which I think
could apply well to specification development process:

	- Release early, release often. And listen to your customers.

	Sure we get interim releases of the specs, but for example XSL
changed quite dramitically between versions, and we the end users don't get
wind of that until much later (perhaps one consequence of this is that it's
the big corporate members of the standards organisations who get to build
the tools first, and become de-facto).

	A better release schedule would be a constant release model.
Everyone always has access to the current release of the spec. Spelling
mistakes and all <g>. And listening to your customers is *v. important*.

	- Given a large enough beta-tester and co-developer base, almost
every problem will be characterised quickly, and the fix obvious to someone.

	If the process just occured on ordinary public mailing lists this
would be true I think.

	Having said all this I do think the XML spec is a triumph of a
closed team, although I personally would have disposed of <!NOTATION>...


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