Quality Assurance
Activity Statement

DRAFT for renewall to be submitted in Sept 2003

Work on Conformance and Quality Assurance is being managed as part of W3C's Quality Assurance Activity (QA).

  1. Introduction
  2. Role of W3C
  3. Structure of the QA Activity
  4. Current Situation
  5. What the Future Holds
  6. Contacts


In 2001, W3C launched a QA activity with a dual focus of fostering test materials development in the W3C Working Groups, and educating the Web community on the importance of Web standards adoption.

After two years of activity, and with an improved basis (the QA Framework, the Matrix, the outreach to the WGs, the QA library) to move forward, we're proposing to renew the QA activity for a second phase focused on development of quality tools supporting the WG test materials production and still more education.

The renewed Quality Assurance (QA) Activity at W3C will keep its dual focus:

The overall and long term goal of the QA Team continues to be the growth of quality W3C standards implementation in the field, and in order to achieve that end, the QA WG will work on:

Role of W3C

The role of W3C is to deliver Web foundational technologies that are used in an interoperable way by the Web community.

We believe that this can only happen through early adoption of good QA practices in the W3C process, that is, the availability of good test materials from the W3C Working Groups.

Comparing the cost of doing QA early in the process (i.e. by the working groups developing the specifications, while they develop them) versus later, or not at all, clearly shows the benefit of the activity.

Early QA comes at the price (for the W3C staff, management and W3C WGs participants) of more time spent on process, coordination, review, editing of quality specs, and developing test materials and tools.

On the cons side still, a perception of heavinesss for the W3C as an organization might also be associated with adding more QA process in addition to the regular W3C Process.

On the pros side, there are both the advantages of doing early QA, and the disadvantages of doing late or no QA.

Early QA:

The costs for not doing QA, or doing it as a patch later are much more frightening..

Clearly, quality has a price, but the feedback received in our Membership survey and at our last AC meeting in Budapest points in the direction of strong membership support for that cost.

The role of W3C is to absorb this cost earlier in its process so that many many more in the Web community do not suffer from a much higher global cost later on.

Structure of the QA Activity

The structure of the activity is unchanged compared to the first two years.

The QA Activity applies to all W3C Activities. Daniel Dardailler acts as Domain Leader and Activity lead. The renewal of the QA Activity is chartered through August 2005.

The diagram made at the first QA workshop (held at NIST in April 2001) is still valid to describe the kind of work foreseen for the follow-up QA Activity.

The innermost circle (Specifications Development: Assertions, Reviews, etc.) describes work on improving W3C specifications and WGs operations, which serves as the basis for further test development. This is now more or less achieved with the availability of the QA Framework Ops and Specs guidelines.

The next circle is about test development (Tests Development: Guide, Change Control, External Coordination, Common Harness) and this forms the basis for the renewed Working Group charter. The last circle still outlines the Interest Group (Tests Use: Metrics, Communication, thoughts about Certification activity).

QA Working Group

The mission of the QA Working Group is to organize and unify the work done within W3C groups in building and designing test suites, and to ensure that W3C's validation tools are fully operational, useful and educational. The Working Group also defines the terms of QA using a glossary and a taxonomy file, and creates "how-to" guidelines for writing better specifications and building test material. The Working Group charter is public.

QA Interest Group

The QA Interest Group's objective is to have W3C, its Membership and the Web community involved in QA at large share their understanding of Web certification, branding, education, funding models, etc. The Interest Group focuses on good practices and public awareness of W3C's resources for quality. The Interest Group charter is also public.

Current Situation

In the past 2 years, the QA Working Group has mainly been working on a framework of documents to help W3C Working Groups achieve quality with regards to our specifications. The list of The Seven Framework Documents is available and has been updated regularly. Six parts of this framework were published as Working Drafts, three as Last Call:

The QA WG has decided to suspend its work on the Ops and Specs guidelines and freeze them in their last call (with feedback from last call included) release and to enter a long CR phase of at least 6 months during which those two guidelines will be put in trial mode in the W3C WGs.

In parallel with receiving feedback on the Ops and Specs, the WG will move forward with the development of the Test Suite guidelines, and associated tools.

There is also a QA's Tools development effort [qa-dev] which maintains a number of tools and services. Some of them are being developed, while others are kept dormant and minimal maintenance is done by qa-dev.

The Activity home page is http://www.w3.org/QA/. It is the portal to QA developments at W3C, the Working and Interest Groups' home page, recent news, and meeting announcements.

The QA Interest Group has already produced materials in the form of short articles to help people address issues they have with the applications related to W3C technologies. Olivier Théreaux and Lynne Rosenthal are the co-Chairs of this group. The mailing-list public-evangelist has been opened to host discussion about outreach and education.

The QA Working Group and Interest Group and QA Team maintain the following reference documents in the W3C QA Library.

We also maintain an up to date issues list and action items list.

We have held six face to face meetings since the start of the Activity.

What the Future Holds

Test development is expected to be the focus of the Working Group. It will still be decentralized and done primarily in W3C Working Groups, but with the QA Working Group providing more support, and more monitoring to ensure consistency and timeliness.

See the charter of the QA WG and IG for details.

The QA Working Group and Interest Group are chartered through 2005-08-31.


Karl Dubost <karl@w3.org>, W3C Conformance Manager
Daniel Dardailler <danield@w3.org>, Activity lead (acting as Domain Leader)

Last modified $Date: 2003/08/29 12:23:03 $

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