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Subject: RE: Conformance and naming


I don't disagree that the interfaces and interoperability are key. And as you know, NIST is very active in developing the metrics (e.g., a Reg/Rep reference implementation, XML and DOM Test Suites)  to accomplish these key aspects.  HOWEVER, a specification needs to articulate what it means for an implementation (e.g. system, software, message, etc) to conform to that specification. Without this, it is difficult if not impossible to ensure that developers of implementations will have a common knowledge of what needs to be implemented to conform and thus, be one step closer to achieving interoperability.  A Conformance Clause in a specification states the requirements or conditions that need to be satisfied to claim conformance as well as who or what must conform.  Furthermore, without a conformance clause, it is difficult to develop the test suites (i.e. metrics) to determine conformance - since the conformance clause indicates who or what needs to conform and what needs to be tested to show that conformance is met. Additionally, note that it is common practice in ISO, IEEE and now W3C specifications/standards to include a Conformance Clause. 

It is my understanding that many of the specifications as well as many of the developers talk about conforming to ebXML or conforming messages, etc.  It would be nice if we all had a similar or at least a knowledgeable understanding of all that is involved when talking about conformance.  We are not trying to dictate what needs to be said in each specification, but rather are volunteering to lead a discussion of the issues related to conformance - for example:  (1) will extensions be allowed and if so, what impact does this have on implementations that claim to conform; (2) will there be levels or profiles of conformance and if so, are they
hierarchical and does a higher level include conformance to a lower level.  It is up to each ebXML Committee to determine what it means to conform to their specification and what should be included in the Conformance Clause.


At 11:21 PM 10/16/00 -0400, David RR Webber wrote:
>Message text written by "Lynne S. Rosenthal"
>Hello All
>Conformance is an important topic and it is important that we all have the
>same basic understanding of what conformance is, what the issues that need
>to be addressed are, etc.  From previous discussions, it seems that the TA
>spec should address the overall ebXML conformance as well as the general
>principles that each of the specifications should follow. 
>NIST has been involved in developing conformance statements in various
>specifications as well as developing other conformance related products
>(e.g., test suites and test procedures).  Mark Skall and I have volunteered
>to present a discussion on conformance at the Tokyo plenary.  If we aren't
>on the plenary agenda, we would gladly present and lead a conformance
>discussion during the week, inviting all who are interested (how would that
>be arranged).  Additionally, both Mark and I are willing to meet with any
>of the working groups to discuss the conformance clause and issues for
>their specification.
>Lynne Rosenthal
>Conformance Testing Group
>>From my view point - the key areas here are the interfaces - the TRP and
>ones, and the internal representation of the metamodel therein with a
>consistent reference system (UID's in the TA doc).
>Provided two systems can effectively interchange, and that the information
>a consistent information model - it will work.
>These are the areas I see that NIST led work would be valuable - but we are
>not quite there yet in being able to exactly specify all this -
>probably post-Vancouver will be when this is stable.
>At least right now NIST can help collect the metrics required and generally
>organize this so once we have the detail - we can quickly integrate this
>a sensible 'Implementors Guide'.
>Are these the right thoughts?
>Thanks, DW.

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