W3C and Open Source (was Re: W3C's 'Moral Majesty')

Simon St.Laurent simonstl at simonstl.com
Tue Sep 21 14:20:38 BST 1999

At 06:40 PM 9/20/99 -0400, Daniel Veillard wrote:
>> Open source in these senses remains poorly served by the W3C's process (and
>> probably by the Open Group's process as well, from what I can gather on
>> their site.)
>  I agree that software availability/testing is not the primary axis of W3C

Open source software is about a _lot_ more than "software
availability/testing" -  it's providing serious competition to many of the
members of the W3C with 'real' software.  Unfortunately, it's a competitor
that's pretty well locked out of the process, because of the cost, secrecy,
and structure of the W3C.

The original argument is here:

>We rely on members (and others) implementation when needed to
>check whether a specification is implementable and has been successfully
>implemented. Those are looked at when doing the Last Call and going to
>Proposed Recommendation but agreed it's not as formal as within the
>IETF process (2 different interoperable implementations for each features
>in the specification). Though Working Groups may adopt such practices
>(it had been done already).

While I think a '2 different interoperable' rule might improve W3C
projects, that isn't what this argument is about.  It's about the ways that
the W3C's consortium setup locks out open source projects until after the
ink is dry.  While XML has benefited from open source projects, notably
Aelfred and Expat, those tended to be the work of individuals actually
participating on the WGs, not the work of larger groups (say, the Apache

>  So basically we don't focuse on software, but we do use in-home testbed
>(Amaya, Jigsaw, Libwww ...) when needed, to test and "eat our own dog food"
>as much as possible. This software is released under OpenSource compliant
>licences and mechanism.

I like this stuff, certainly.  It doesn't excuse the W3C for being
inhospitable to external open source projects, however.

Simon St.Laurent
XML: A Primer (2nd Ed - September)
Building XML Applications
Inside XML DTDs: Scientific and Technical
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