W3C

QA Framework: Operational Guidelines

W3C Working Draft 20 December 2002

This version:
http://www.w3.org/TR/2002/WD-qaframe-ops-20021220/
Latest version:
http://www.w3.org/TR/qaframe-ops/
Previous versions:
http://www.w3.org/TR/2002/WD-qaframe-ops-20021108/
Editors:
Lofton Henderson (lofton@rockynet.com)
Dominique HazaŽl-Massieux (dom@w3.org)
Kirill Gavrylyuk (kirillg@microsoft.com)
Dimitris Dimitriadis (dimitris@ontologicon.com)
Lynne Rosenthal (lsr@nist.gov)
Contributors:
See Acknowledgments.

Abstract

This document defines a common Operational Framework for building conformance test materials for W3C specifications. It presents operational and procedural guidelines for groups undertaking conformance materials development. This document is one in a family of Framework documents of the Quality Assurance (QA) Activity, which includes the other existing or in-progress specifications: Introduction; Specification Guidelines; and, Test Guidelines.

Status of this document

This document is a WG version of the QA Framework Specification Guidelines. It is the base document for further QAWG work at the Seattle face-to-face (6-8 Jan 2003). Unless you intend to comment on a rapidly developing document, you may want to refer to the latest published version instead.

Specific editorial and technical issues are flagged by "@@Ed note" and highlighted styling. The principal shortcomings of this version are: the need for a "Rationale" statement to be added to most checkpoints, and some of the checkpoints are missing any Discussion at all. See the Change history for a summary of the significant changes since the 3rd published WD (20021108).

Following is the SoTD for the 3rd published WD...

This section describes the status of this document at the time of its publication. Other documents may supersede this document. The latest version of this document series is maintained at the W3C.

This document is a W3C Working Draft (WD), made available by the W3C Quality Assurance (QA) Activity for discussion by W3C members and other interested parties. For more information about the QA Activity, please see the QA Activity statement.

This is the third public Working Draft, and is significantly changed since the Previous Version. The Previous Version incorporated the discussions from several subsequent QA Working Group [QAWG] teleconference and face-to-face meetings. Previously the QAWG examined, debated, and agreed upon the individual checkpoints and their priorities. In this version, the individual checkpoints have been restructured so that their test assertions -- i.e., the criteria for fulfillment of the checkpoints -- are isolated and identified. For details, please see Change history.

One consequence of making all checkpoints verifiable has been to expose some underlying hidden issues in how the checkpoints were previously written. These have not all been addressed by the QA Working Group yet. They will be addressed and resolved before the next public version of this document.

This version supersedes all previous drafts. It is expected that updated versions of this document will be produced regularly, along with other members of the Framework documents family. It is anticipated that the next public version of this document will be the Last Call version (estimated, February 2003).

Future progression of this document beyond Working Draft is planned, but the final status has not been determined at this time. See QA Working Group issue #18 and issue #71.

This part of the Framework document family has an accompanying "QA Framework: Operational Examples & Techniques". As of this version, the status of that informative companion document has been changed from Working Draft to Note. At least until this document stabilizes, the Examples & Techniques companion will be maintained and frequently updated in QA Working Group Web space (as opposed to /TR/).

The QA Working Group Patent Disclosure page contains details on known patents related to this specification, in conformance with W3C policy requirements.

Please send comments to www-qa@w3.org, the publicly archived list of the QA Interest Group [QAIG]. Please note that any mail sent to this list will be publicly archived and available, do not send information you would not want to see distributed, such as private data.

Publication of this document does not imply endorsement by the W3C, its membership or its staff. This is a draft document and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any time. It is inappropriate to use W3C Working Drafts as reference material or to cite them as other than "work in progress".

A list of current W3C Recommendations and other technical documents can be found at http://www.w3.org/TR/.

Table of contents

1. Introduction
††††1.1 Scope and goals
††††1.2 Class of product and audience
††††1.3 Goals of QA development
††††1.4 Motivation and expected benefits
††††1.5 Relationship to other specifications
††††1.6 Understanding and using this document
††††1.7 Checkpoint priorities
††††1.8 Terminology
2. Guidelines
†††††††† G 1. Integrate Quality Assurance into Working Group activities.
†††††††† G 2. Define resources for Working Group QA activities.
†††††††† G 3. Synchronize QA activities with the specification milestones.
†††††††† G 4. Define the QA process.
†††††††† G 5. Plan test materials development.
†††††††† G 6. Plan test materials publication.
†††††††† G 7. Plan the transfer of test materials to W3C if needed.
†††††††† G 8. Plan for test materials maintenance.
3. WG relationship to QA Activity
††††3.1 Liaison and Consultation
††††3.2 Active Reviews
††††3.3 Adjudicate entry and exit criteria
††††3.4 QA resource supplement
††††3.5 Resolution of external QA requests
4. Conformance
††††4.1 Normative sections
††††4.2 Extensibility
††††4.3 Test assertions
††††4.4 Conformance definition
††††4.5 Conformance disclaimer
5. Acknowledgments
6. References
††††6.1 Normative references
††††6.2 Informative references
7. Change history

An appendix to this document [OPS-CHECKLIST] presents all checkpoints in a tabular form, for convenient reference. This checklist is an Implementation Conformance Statement (ICS) pro-forma for this specification.


1. Introduction

1.1 Scope and goals

The scope of this specification is a set of verifiable requirements for the process and operational aspects of the quality practices of W3C Working Groups. The primary goal is to help the W3C Working Groups (WGs) with the planning, development, deployment, and maintenance of conformance test materials (TM).

In this guidelines document, the term "conformance test materials" refers conformance test suites, validation tools, conformance checklists, and any other materials that are used to check or indicate conformance.

While it is optimal that sound quality practices are integrated into WG activities from the very beginning, these guidelines are intended for newly chartered and existing Working Groups alike. Working Groups who may already be doing some of these activities should review the document and incorporate the principles and guidelines into their quality practices as much as possible.

1.2 Class of product and audience

The class of product that is the target of the requirements in this specification is: all process and operational aspects of Working Group quality practices. This includes the WG's planning and commitment for QA, staffing to meet commitments, organization and logistics of the quality practices, publication and maintenance, and synchronization of quality processes with other WG activities.

The intended audience for these guidelines is all W3C Working Group members, as well as the actual developers of conformance materials for W3C specifications.

Not only are the Working Groups the consumers of these guidelines, they have also been key contributors. It is the aim of these guidelines to capture the experiences, good practices, activities, and lessons learned of the Working Groups and present them in a comprehensive, cohesive set of documents for all to use and benefit from. By standardizing the best of current practice, these guidelines should allow the WGs to reuse what works rather than having to reinvent. Conformance with these guidelines should promote consistency across the various Working Group quality activities and deliverables.

1.3 Goals of QA development

[@@Ed note. Does this section add anything useful? Should the first bits be merged into the next section, and the rest -- starting with "Specific goals..." -- be deleted?]

Common frameworks for W3C quality practices are shaped by the high-level goals for development and deployment of test materials. The goals for the operational framework guidelines share those high-level goals.

The over-arching goal is stated in the QA Activity Statement:

Specific goals of test materials development include:

The goals of QA work within a Working Group do not encompass:

While certification may have a positive quality assurance role in standards-based Web environments, W3C does not presently intend to initiate or offer any certification services.

1.4 Motivation and expected benefits

As the complexity of W3C specifications and their interdependencies increase, quality assurance becomes even more important to ensuring their acceptance and deployment in the market. There has been a growing awareness and interest in conformance and quality. In approving and initiating the QA Activity, W3C has endorsed the principle that in order for W3C Web standards to achieve full interoperability and access to all, the quality of the implementation must be given as much attention as the standards' development. The principal factor for improving the quality of implementation is early availability of conformance test materials.

Although not explicitly stated, the W3C Process Document supports the development of conformance test materials.

[...] groups may produce technical reports, review the work of other groups, develop sample code or test suites, etc." (see Process Document, section 3.)

W3C should make every effort to maintain its Recommendations (e.g., by tracking errata, providing test bed applications, helping to create test suites, etc.) (see Process Document, section 5.2.5, "Ongoing work".)

In an effort to meet these suggestions and address the implementation requirements of the Process Document, some Working Groups have included the development of conformance materials as part of their CR-exit and PR-entrance criteria. Examples include Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (UAAG), and Extensible Style Language - Formatting Objects (XSL-FO). This makes sense, since it is natural for test suites and implementations to develop in parallel - each is a help to the development of the other.

There is already a body of contemporary QA experience and activity amongst the Working Groups. The Matrix identifies more than a score of test suites and validators, in various states of development. Moreover, many Working Groups have already established procedures, techniques and tools for developing test materials (e.g., Document Object Model - DOM). It makes sense to capitalize on what has already been done and share that with those who are starting out and those who are already in the process of developing conformance materials.

1.5 Relationship to other specifications

This document is part of a family of QA Framework documents designed to help the WGs improve all aspects of their quality practices by solidifying and extending current quality practices found within the W3C. The QA Framework documents are:

The QA Framework documents are interrelated and complement each other. For example, there is a close relationship between the processes for dealing with versions and errata, and the test framework architecture for handling multiple versions and errata levels. Hence there is interrelationship between this document and the Test Guidelines. The reader is strongly encouraged to be familiar with the other documents in the family.

1.6 Understanding and using this document

The Guidelines in the document are organized chronologically. The document starts with the guidelines that are applicable as early as the formation of a Working Group (e.g., charter considerations), and continues through the various process and operational activities necessary in planning, developing, deploying and maintaining conformance materials.

This document applies the WAI (Web Accessibility Initiative) guidelines model to a set guidelines or general principles for the development of conformance materials. See, for example, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Each guideline includes:

The checkpoint definitions in each guideline define the processes and operations that need to be implemented in order to accomplish the guideline. Each checkpoint definition includes:

Each checkpoint is intended to be specific enough so that someone can implement the checkpoint as well as verify that the checkpoint has been satisfied. A checkpoint will contain at least one, and may contain multiple individual requirements, that use RFC2119 normative keywords. See the Conformance section for further discussion of requirements and test assertions.

A separate appendix to this document [OPS-CHECKLIST] presents all checkpoints in a tabular form, for convenient reference. The checklist is an Implementation Conformance Statement (ICS) pro-forma for this specification.

1.7 Checkpoint priorities

Some checkpoints are more critical than others for the timely production of high-quality,highly usable test materials. Therefore each checkpoint has a priority level assigned by the QA Working Group based on the checkpoint's impact on the quality and timing of the test materials produced by a Working Group.

[Priority 1]
Critical/essential. These checkpoints are considered to be basic requirements for ensuring that test materials are usable, and are produced in time to ensure the quality of the standard and its implementations. Satisfying these checkpoints is a basic requirement to ensure quality and interoperability of the standard.
[Priority 2]
Important/desirable. Satisfying these checkpoints, in addition to the priority 1 checkpoints, should significantly improve the usability and timeliness of the test materials, as well as the quality of the standard and its implementations.
[Priority 3]
Useful/beneficial. Satisfying these checkpoints, on top of all the others, will further improve the quality, usability, and timeliness of the test materials and the standard itself.

1.8 Terminology

The keywords "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT", "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" are used as defined in RFC 2119 [RFC2119]. When used with the normative RFC2119 meanings, they are all upper case. Occurrences of these words in lower case comprise normal prose usage, with no normative implications.

Unusual terms in this framework document are defined when first used, and most generally useful QA-specific terms will eventually be in the QA Glossary [QA-GLOSSARY].

2. Guidelines

Guideline 1. Integrate Quality Assurance into Working Group activities.

In approving and initiating the QA Activity, W3C has endorsed the principle that in order for W3C Web standards to achieve full interoperability and access to all, the quality of implementation must be given as much attention as the standards' development. A principal contributor to the quality of implementations is early availability of conformance test materials (TM). Therefore, conformance test materials -- test suites and tools -- must be considered as Working Group deliverables the same as the standards themselves. Accordingly, Working Groups must make explicit commitment to QA at a suitable level, as well as identify specific QA deliverables, milestones, and dependencies with other WG deliverables.

New Working Groups -- i.e., those that are writing and submitting their Charters for approval -- are required to make the specified commitments in their charters. Working Groups that are renewing their charters are considered the same as new WGs. Existing Working Groups could satisfy the checkpoints by amendment to their charter, or in other ways, the latter to be specified in QA Framework: Examples & Techniques [OPS-EXTECH].

Checkpoints:

Checkpoint 1.1. Commit to at least "QA level three". [Priority 1]

To fulfill this checkpoint, a new or rechartering Working Group MUST commit, in its Charter, to at least QA level three. An existing Working Group MUST document a consensus commitment to at least QA level three in one of various other ways.

Discussion. Detailed planning and specification of test materials is inappropriate in the charter because it inflexibly binds the Working Group to test materials implementation specifics for which flexibility may be needed. There are numerous possible levels of commitment that a Working Group could make based on anticipated Working Group resources, existence of outside efforts, and the Working Group's current stage in the process [REC-TRACK].

Based on the level of testability of the specification and the extent of test materials, a range of possible commitments has been identified.

Level testability of specification extent of test materials
1. Working Group plans regular specification reviews for testability, following Specification Guidelines
2. In addition to the regular specifications reviews mentioned in the previous level, Working Group commits to develop a set of test assertions, not necessarily complete, before beginning development of a test suite. Working Group commits that test suite for the specification, not necessarily complete and thorough, will exist before specification becomes Recommendation.
3. In addition to regular specification reviews, a Working Group aims to have numerous use cases and examples in the body of the Recommendation. In addition to the commitment of the previous level, a Working Group ensures that the test suite produced is reviewed by the Working Group or externally and the review process meets the criteria established in this document.
4. Same as above. Working Group commits to establish and maintain the test cases contribution and review process and will produce and review the test suite, not necessarily complete and thorough, before the specification becomes Recommendation.
5. In addition to the commitments from the previous level, Working Group will derive the list of testable assertions as an addendum to specification by the time it becomes Recommendation. Same as above
6. Same as above In addition to the commitment for the previous level, a Working Group insists on a complete test suite before corresponding standard becomes Recommendation.
7. Same as above In addition to the commitment for the previous level, Working Group plans to maintain the test suite even after Specification becomes recommendation. Working Group plans to support versions and errata in the test suite and review appeals.

This seven-point enumeration is derived from the proposal to the QA mail list, after the 4/2001 QA Workshop.

The further down the scale (i.e., the higher the number) that the Working Group commits, the better it is for achieving W3C's ultimate goals of interoperability and accessibility.

For existing working groups that make the QA commitment after chartering, various ways to do it are discussed in the Examples & Techniques document.

Examples & Techniques for checkpoint.

Checkpoint 1.2. Commit to at least "QA level five". [Priority 2]

To fulfill this checkpoint, a new or rechartering Working Group MUST commit, in its Charter, to at least QA level five. An existing Working Group MUST document a consensus commitment to at least QA level five in one of various other ways.

Discussion. This checkpoint advances the level of QA commitment required by the previous checkpoint and therefore supersedes it. Satisfying this level of requirements for the specification and the test materials significantly increases confidence in the interoperability of the standard.

For existing working groups that make the QA commitment after chartering, various ways to do it are discussed in the Examples & Techniques document.

Examples & Techniques for checkpoint.

Checkpoint 1.3. Commit to at least "QA level seven". [Priority 3]

To fulfill this checkpoint, a new or rechartering Working Group MUST commit, in its Charter, to at least QA level seven. An existing Working Group MUST document a consensus commitment to at least QA level seven in one of various other ways.

Discussion. This checkpoint advances the level of QA commitment required by the previous checkpoint and therefore supersedes it. Satisfying this level of requirements for the specification and the test materials further increases confidence in the interoperability of the standard.

For existing working groups that make the QA commitment after chartering, various ways to do it are discussed in the Examples & Techniques document.

Examples & Techniques for checkpoint.

Checkpoint 1.4. Enumerate QA deliverables and expected milestones. [Priority 1]

To fulfill this checkpoint, a new or rechartering Working Group MUST document the QA deliverables and milestones its Charter. An existing Working Group MUST document QA deliverables and milestones in some consensus record, in one of various other ways.

Discussion. The W3C Process Document requires for Charters, that deliverables be identified with milestones. It is vital that the milestones for QA deliverables are synchronized and even serve as criteria for WG technical deliverables (specifications).

Examples of QA deliverables include sets of use cases, test suites (produced or acquired), validators, test harnesses.

Examples & Techniques for checkpoint.

Checkpoint 1.5. Associate QA criteria with WG milestones. [Priority 2]

To fulfill this checkpoint, a new or rechartering Working Group MUST, in its charter, specify the QA criteria required for the attainment of major WG milestones. An existing Working Group MUST define the association in some consensus record, in one of various other ways.

Discussion. A de facto convention of test suite completion before entrance into PR phase (and by implication, completion of CR phase, if there was a CR phase) seems to be a common process goal amongst a number of the existing test suite efforts. For example, SVG, UAAG, and others have defined this criterion. It is natural for test suites and implementations to develop in parallel -- each is a help to the development of the other. And, the Process Document does address implementation requirement:

Advancement of a technical report to Candidate Recommendation is an explicit call for implementation experience to those outside of the related Working Groups or the W3C itself." (see Process Document, section 5.2, about "Candidate Recommendation.)

Preferably, the Working Group should be able to demonstrate two interoperable implementations of each feature. (see Process Document, section 5.2.4, about "Entrance Criteria".)

Examples & Techniques for checkpoint.

Guideline 2. Define resources for Working Group QA activities.

It is highly beneficial to the success of the WG's QA work that it address QA resource requirements from the beginning of the Working Group formation. Starting from the Working Group Charter and later in the Call For Participation special attention is required to the staffing and other resource requirements for successful QA work.

The sooner the resources are defined and committed, the better. Therefore new Working Groups -- i.e., those that are writing and submitting their Charters for approval -- are required to have the resource commitments in their charters. Working Groups whose charters are being renewed are considered the same as new WGs. While "sooner is better", existing Working Groups can still satisfy the checkpoints, in other ways to be specified in QA Framework: Examples & Techniques [OPS-EXTECH].

Checkpoint 2.1. Address where and how conformance test materials will be produced. [Priority 1]

To fulfill this checkpoint, a new or rechartering Working Group MUST, in its charter, specify who will produce the test materials and how. An existing Working Group MUST define the association in some consensus record, in one of various other ways.

Discussion. Test materials can be produced by a range of possible scenarios, from all intra-WG effort concurrent with other WG deliverables, to importing completed materials from an external group.

(Ed note. Example/technique here was moved to Operational Examples & Techniques.)

Examples & Techniques for checkpoint.

Checkpoint 2.2. Address QA staffing commitments. [Priority 1]

To fulfill this checkpoint, a new or rechartering Working Group MUST, in its charter, allocate WG staffing resources commensurate with the QA level and where-and-how plan. An existing Working Group MUST define the allocation in some consensus record, in one of various other ways.

Discussion. There will be at least some staffing required from the Working Group, for any of the acceptable options presented so far. Depending upon the general intent and plan, and how the test suite will be built, the commitment can range from minimal to significant.

Examples & Techniques for checkpoint.

Checkpoint 2.3. Request allocation of QA resources to the Working Group. [Priority 1]

To fulfill this checkpoint, a new or rechartering Working Group MUST, in its Call for Participation, request that participating members allocate some staffing resources specifically for QA work. An existing Working Group MAY make external appeal for QA-specific resources in one of various other ways.

[@@Ed note. This could alternately be "Not applicable" for existing working groups.]

Discussion. Once the Charter is prepared, the Director sends a Call for Participation to the Advisory Committee. At this point AC Representatives are asked to provide information about amount and type of resources their organization plans to allocate for the particular Working Group. Explicit indication of resources dedicated for Quality Assurance is required to assess Working Group capabilities against deliverables and milestones declared in the Charter.

Examples & Techniques for checkpoint.

Guideline 3. Synchronize QA activities with the specification milestones.

The benefits of starting synchronization of the specification and test materials development as early as possible include:

Checkpoints:

Checkpoint 3.1. Synchronize the publication of QA deliverables and the specification's drafts. [Priority 2]

To fulfill this checkpoint, the Working Group MUST publish QA deliverables concurrently with each Working Group specification publication milestone.

Discussion. Each version of the specification -- WDs, CR(s), PR, etc -- is a changed document that requires an update of all dependencies like test materials.

This is a specialization of the checkpoint requirement above -- associate QA criteria with each Working Group milestone -- to the specific WG milestones of specification stages on the Recommendation track. The natural QA criterion for such a specification publication milestone is the publication of the updated test materials or related QA deliverables.

Examples of QA deliverables might range from a TS (test suite) production schedule in early WDs, to TS design document in later WDs, to a first public TS release at CR.

Examples & Techniques for checkpoint.

Checkpoint 3.2. Support specification versioning/errata in the QA deliverables. [Priority 3]

To satisfy this checkpoint, the Working Group SHOULD plan for specification versioning/errata support in its QA deliverables, and MUST ensure that the final published test materials support specification versioning/errata.

Discussion. Because there will be products that support different versions or even different errata levels of the specification, users must be able to verify product's conformance with a specific version or errata level. This checkpoint specifically extends the previous one to cover specification milestones after Recommendation status. Whether or not a Working Group plans to maintain the test suite after the specification becomes Recommendation (see the Table of WG Commitment Levels), it has to ensure support of versioning/errata in the structure of the test materials.

Examples & Techniques for checkpoint.

Guideline 4. Define the QA process.

A Working Group QA process encompasses all aspects of QA life within the Working Group, including:

Documented examples of the QA process can be found at DOM TS process, at XML Schema TS process, and at XML Protocol TS process.

Checkpoints:

Checkpoint 4.1. Appoint a QA moderator. [Priority 1]

To fulfill this checkpoint, the Working Group MUST identify a person to manage the WG's quality practices.

Discussion. Before starting test materials development, a Working Group has to appoint several key participants for its QA process. The QA moderator is the overall manager of all of the QA activities in the Working Group.

Depending on the origin of the test materials, there are several possibilities for the QA moderator, ranging from appointing a QA member to inviting someone from an external organization.

(Ed note. Example/technique here was moved to Operational Examples & Techniques.)

Examples & Techniques for checkpoint.

Checkpoint 4.2. Appoint a QA task force. [Priority 2]

To fulfill this checkpoint, the Working Group MUST identify a QA task force of size commensurate with the QA commitment level and the agreed QA deliverables.

Discussion. Depending on the level of involvement of a Working Group in the test materials development, a Working Group may need to appoint QA task force in addition to the test moderator. Such a task force can take responsibility for a QA framework development, test materials development, review of contributions, maintenance. See later checkpoints for details on each of these activities.

Examples & Techniques for checkpoint.

Checkpoint 4.3. Produce the QA Process Document. [Priority 1]

To fulfill this checkpoint, the Working Group MUST produce a QA Process Document that:

Rationale. A QA Process Document records, in one place, key information about the WG's quality-related logistical and communications setup, contribution and licensing policies, publication and maintenance plans, and other critical process and operational details. The process of producing the document ensures that these key aspects of the WG's quality practices are explicitly addressed and publicly recorded.

Discussion. This checkpoint depends on other checkpoints that contain specific requirements for topics and items in the QA Process Document (QAPD). To summarize, the QAPD must address:

Satisfaction of this checkpoint requires satisfaction of these related checkpoints: 4.4, 4.5, 4.6, 5.2, 5.4, 5.3, 6.2, 6.3, 6.4, 6.5, 8.2, 8.3.

Examples & Techniques for checkpoint.

Checkpoint 4.4. Specify means for QA-related communication. [Priority 2]

To fulfill this checkpoint, the WG's QA Process Document MUST specify at least one public archived mailing list for QA announcements and submission of public QA comments, and MUST establish a publicly readable "Test" Web page.

Discussion. The Working Group needs an archived mailing list for all comments, announcements, and discussion. The WG also needs a "Test" Web page for posting announcements, QA deliverables, test materials releases, etc.

Examples & Techniques for checkpoint.

Checkpoint 4.5. Define the QA framework for test materials development. [Priority 1]

To fulfill this checkpoint, the WG's QA Process Document MUST define the framework that will be used for test materials development.

Discussion. The QA framework describes how to develop, document and use the tests.

Examples & Techniques for checkpoint.

Checkpoint 4.6. Define branding policy details. [Priority 3]

To fulfill this checkpoint, the WG MUST document in its QA Process Document the branding policy details, if branding is to be supported.

Discussion. Some W3C activities support "branding". Branding refers to the use of a conformance icon to indicate some level of standard conformance. Examples: HTML validation, CSS validation, WCAG conformance. While these content branding schemes are relatively non-controversial, there are nevertheless issues that should be addressed -- particularly in the contexts of user-agent and API conformance -- before any branding-related goals are articulated.

This checkpoint is not applicable if the WG does not support branding.

Examples & Techniques for checkpoint.

Guideline 5. Plan test materials development.

As described earlier, a Working Group may have different levels of involvement in test materials development. Nevertheless at any level a Working Group needs to have clear understanding of what QA framework it will use and how to insure the quality and usability of the test materials themselves. As a part of the WG's QA process, before starting a test materials development, it is recommended the test materials implementer (Working Group or 3rd party) looks at Test Guidelines and decide what approach to take for test materials organization, test criteria, etc.

Checkpoints:

Checkpoint 5.1. Ensure test materials are documented and usable for their intended purposes. [Priority 1]

To fulfill this checkpoint, the WG MUST ensure that the test framework contains user documentation that instructs the use of the test materials for the full range of their intended purposes.

Discussion. While W3C does not have any plans to offer any certification services, developed test materials can be used by external parties including certification services.

Examples & Techniques for checkpoint.

Checkpoint 5.2. Define a contribution process. [Priority 2]

To fulfill this checkpoint, the WG MUST describe in its QA Process Document where, how, by whom, and to whom test materials submissions are to be made.

Discussion. The process document must describe where to submit test materials and whom to notify (e.g., moderator) of a submission. The contribution process describes the format of contributed material, it may contain validation harness, utilities that facilitates tests creation, templates, etc.

Examples & Techniques for checkpoint.

Checkpoint 5.3. Address license terms for submitted test materials. [Priority 1]

To fulfill this checkpoint, in its QA Process Document the WG MUST define a submission license policy applicable to test materials submitted to the WG by external parties, and the submission license policy MUST include at least an outline of terms, conditions, constraints, and principles that will govern acceptable submissions to the WG.

Rationale. Defining submission license policies in advance will help clarify the WG's expectations to prospective TM submitters, and will facilitate the efficient negotiation of any needed custom submission licenses with submitters.

Discussion. Note that any submission policy will inherit some constraints derived from other checkpoints in this guidelines specification, such as the requirements of publication licenses, and the requirements for free access to test materials. A Working Group may in fact decide to publish a prototype submission license agreement that embodies terms and conditions acceptable to the WG. In cases where a standard submission license is not acceptable, the WG will have to negotiate licenses with prospective contributors for their specific needs, under the principles defined.

Documented examples of TM submission licenses can be seen in the XML Schema submission license, and in the XML Protocol submission license.

instead of just requiring WG to publish at least one suitable submission license, perhaps a submission license policy -- an outline of terms and conditions -- would suffice as well? I.e., a set of constraints and principles, under which individual submission licenses would be derived between the WG and submitter?

[@@Ed note. Add more examples to Extech per KG email of 20021218.]

Examples & Techniques for checkpoint.

Checkpoint 5.4. Define review procedures for submitted test materials. [Priority 2]

To fulfill this checkpoint, the WG MUST define in its QA Process Document a procedure for reviewing test materials contributions, and the procedure MUST minimally address accuracy, scope, and clarity of the tests.

Discussion. [@@none yet. Following is what was here after 5.5 merge into 5.4...] Once the contribution process is defined, the Working Group needs procedures for reviewing the tests being contributed, including criteria for acceptance or rejection of reviewed tests.

(Ed note. Example/technique here was moved to Operational Examples & Techniques.)

Examples & Techniques for checkpoint.

Guideline 6. Plan test materials publication.

Once the test suite development is in progress, a Working Group needs to publish the test suite drafts and releases, as part of its QA processes.

Checkpoints

Checkpoint 6.1. Ensure a suitable repository location for test materials. [Priority 1]

To fulfill this checkpoint, the Working Group MUST ensure that test materials have repository locations that are secure, reliable, and freely accessible.

Discussion. Once the materials have reached some advanced milestone of maturity and development (e.g., operationally usable), W3C needs to assure that:

This checkpoint does not necessarily require that test suite/tools should physically reside in the W3C. Nevertheless, having the repository at W3C is a recommended way of meeting the checkpoint, because:

  1. At the point that test materials become operationally deployed, then challenges to the correctness of both the test materials and specifications normally increase, and the Working Group is the best venue for initial processing and adjudication of such queries against both.
  2. Further to #1, it is more likely that technical report (Recommendation) errata processing and test suite maintenance can be kept synchronized if both responsibilities reside in the same body, the Working Group.

It is implicit in the "secure" criterion of this checkpoint that, if the Working Group ceases to operate, then the repository arrangements must provide for the continued availability of the test materials.

Examples & Techniques for checkpoint.

Checkpoint 6.2. Define the licenses applicable to published test materials. [Priority 1]

To fulfill this checkpoint, the Working Group MUST define in its QA Process Document the licenses that are applicable to published test materials.

Discussion. If test materials are produced within the W3C, the Working Group is recommended to use the W3C Document License. The Document License is preferred because:

If the Document License is not applicable and a user needs to modify the test materials in order to use them, the W3C Software License can be used. For publishing test materials acquired from an external group, other licenses may be applicable (see transferring test suite).

Note. QAWG has agreed in principle, Issue #49, to the desirability and draft text of a Test Materials License, based mostly on the Document License. Discussion with W3C Legal is pending.

[@@Ed note. QAWG has agreed in principle, Issue #49, to the text of a "Test Materials" license, based mostly on Document License. Discussion with Legal is in progress, and has led to re-opening of Issue #49.]

Examples & Techniques for checkpoint.

Checkpoint 6.3. Describe how and where the test materials will be published. [Priority 2]

To fulfill this checkpoint, in its QA Process Document the Working Group MUST describe how test materials will be published, and point to the Web site at which they will be published.

Discussion. If the test materials are to be published on the W3C site, it is recommended to locate them within the corresponding activity domain. It is strongly recommended not to publish test materials in the TR space for the following reasons:

It is recommended to use one of the practices for publishing test materials, described in Test Guidelines.

Examples & Techniques for checkpoint.

Checkpoint 6.4. Provide a conformance verification disclaimer with the test materials. [Priority 1]

To fulfill this checkpoint, the Working Group MUST provide a prominent disclaimer about the use of the test materials for conformance verification of implementations.

Discussion. Although tests suites may be used for conformance verification, the Working Group must make users aware that:

  1. passing all of the tests does not guarantee full conformance of an implementation to the specification
  2. failing the test suite means failing tests for the specific feature they target

An example of a conformance disclaimer may be found in the Conformance chapter of this specification.

Examples & Techniques for checkpoint.

Checkpoint 6.5. Address the publication of test results for products. [Priority 2]

To fulfill this checkpoint, in its QA Process Document the Working Group MUST encourage the publication of test results, MUST address sample scenarios of where and how such publication can be done, and MAY identify a WG-sponsored Web site for publishing collected results or a directory of results.

Discussion. Publishing test results for the products implementing the technical specification is useful for users, vendors, specification authors and the test suite quality itself. Taking responsibility to publish test results for other vendor's product could be a problem for the Working Group. One way to address the problem is for the Working Group to encourage vendors to publish results for their implementations themselves. Such publication should include or describe a test harness that would allow anyone to reproduce the results. The Working Group may provide the web space to publish collected results.

Examples & Techniques for checkpoint.

Guideline 7. Plan the transfer of test materials to W3C if needed.

As stated before in the notes to the checkpoint for test materials repository, it is recommended that test materials reside in the W3C. If test development was done outside by some external entity or group (EG), and the Working Group (WG) together with EG decided to move test materials (TM) to W3C, the following checkpoints define the requirements for the Working Group.

All of the checkpoints of this guideline are not applicable if the Working Group does not transfer test materials from an external entity.

Checkpoints:

Checkpoint 7.1. Perform a quality assessment of any test materials that are candidates for transfer. [Priority 2]

To fulfill this checkpoint, as a part of any test materials transfer process, the Working Group MUST perform and record an assessment of the quality of the test materials.

Discussion. This checkpoint parallels the checkpoint for the test review process. During test materials review, the Working Group must follow the criteria defined in the document that is required by that checkpoint.

This checkpoint is not applicable if the Working Group does not transfer test materials from an external entity.

Examples & Techniques for checkpoint.

Checkpoint 7.2. Identify sufficient staff resources to meet the needs of any transferred test materials. [Priority 1]

To fulfill this checkpoint, as a part of any test materials transfer process, the Working Group MUST commit staff resources commensurate with planned ongoing WG test materials' deliverables, and MUST record that commitment in some consensus WG document.

Discussion. This checkpoint parallels checkpoint 2.2 for the specific circumstance of transferring the test materials from the outside to the W3C.

This checkpoint is not applicable if the Working Group does not transfer test materials from an external entity.

Examples & Techniques for checkpoint.

Checkpoint 7.3. For any transferred test materials, resolve all IPR issues with the external party that produced the test materials. [Priority 1]

To fulfill this checkpoint, as a part of any test materials transfer process, the Working Group MUST have a documented agreement with the external entity on all IPR aspects that are applicable to the transferred materials.

Rationale. Completion of suitable IPR agreements for any transferred test materials, before the transfer is actually completed, will ensure that the WG can publish and the public can use the test test materials according terms and conditions planned and envisioned by the WG.

Discussion. This checkpoint is not applicable if the Working Group does not transfer test materials from an external entity.

(Ed note. Example/technique here was moved to Operational Examples & Techniques.)

Examples & Techniques for checkpoint.

Guideline 8. Plan for test materials maintenance.

The ongoing maintenance of test materials is critical to their long term integrity, and may require a significant commitment of resources.

Checkpoints:

Checkpoint 8.1. Maintain the contribution and review procedures throughout the entire life cycle of the test materials and the standard itself. [Priority 3]

To fulfill this checkpoint, in some WG consensus document the Working Group MUST define a plan and commit resources for long term maintenance of the test materials contribution and review procedures.

[@@Ed note. Should we reverse the details of the CP and the "to fulfill"? I.e., "long term maintenance" in the CP, and specifics ("entire life cycle of...") in the fulfillment criteria?]

Discussion. It is implicit in the criteria of this checkpoint that, if the Working Group ceases to operate, then the WG's maintenance plan must survive and address the ongoing maintenance of the contribution and review procedures.

Examples & Techniques for checkpoint.

Checkpoint 8.2. Specify a test materials update procedure to track new specification versions/errata. [Priority 2]

To fulfill this checkpoint, in its QA Process Document the Working Group MUST specify procedures to update the test materials to track new specification versions and errata levels.

Discussion. (@@None yet.@@)

(Ed note. Example/technique here was moved to Operational Examples & Techniques.)

Examples & Techniques for checkpoint.

Checkpoint 8.3. Identify a procedure for test validity appeals. [Priority 2]

To fulfill this checkpoint, in its QA Process Document the Working Group MUST identify the communication channel for appeals of test validity and a procedure for resolving such appeals.

Discussion. (@@None yet.@@)

(Ed note. Example/technique here was moved to Operational Examples & Techniques.)

[Ed note. Does this belong here?] If there is still active work on the test suite even if the Working Group is not re-chartered to handle the work, then it is up to the Director to determine how this work should be done. Some options include:

Examples & Techniques for checkpoint.

3. WG relationship to QA Activity

The QA Activity works closely with other W3C WGs providing assistance and expertise in helping them achieve their QA goals and deliverables. The QA Activity anticipates different relationships with the various WGs depending on the QA-specific needs of a particular Working Group. For example, the resources and experience of Working Group members as well as their stage in the Recommendation track may influence the type and level of collaboration between the Working Group and QA Activity. Potential relationships between Working Groups and the QA Activity include:

The QA Activity strives to make their expertise available to the Working Groups, responding to requests and providing assistance on an as-needed basis. The degree of assistance and participation of the QA Activity members may be determined on a case-by-case basis, but a consultancy role should almost always be possible. Key determinants of the WG/QA Activity relationship will include level of available QA Activity resources and the evolution of W3C policy on QA requirements.

3.1 Liaison and Consultation

In an assistive role, the QA Activity provides consultation to all Working Groups with respect to planning, building, and/or acquiring test materials. Consultation may be provided informally in response to questions sent to the QA Activities IG mail exploder, www-qa@w3.org or formally following the QA Activity's Request for Assistance Process.

In addition to describing how WGs can submit requests to the QA Activity, it describes the process within the QA Activity for handling these requests including review procedures and criteria. The Request for Assistance Process was created to ensure a fair and impartial, quick and accurate response to requests.

WGs may submit requests for assistance to the QA Working Group for the following:

Upon receiving one of these requests, a QA Working Group task team will review the request, appoint reviewers/consultants, inform the WG of the request's status, establish a liaison with the WG, and working in concert with the WG, respond to the request.

Other requests will be considered by the QA Activity Working Group on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the Request for Assistance Process. Decisions will be based on the nature of the request, (e.g., within the scope of the QA Activity domain). The WG will be informed of the QA Activity's decision and provided an opportunity to appeal the decision.

[ED NOTE: Just as other WGs must have aQA Process Document, the QAWG has agreed to have a Process document containing the process for formal consultation, active reviews -- under construction.]

3.2 Active Reviews

At the request of a WG or in response to a general call for participation (e.g., public working draft or email to W3C Chair to review something) or due to a W3C Process requirement, the QA Activity Working Group may provide detailed review and assessment of a WG's deliverable. If such a detailed review is conducted, it will be conducted with the knowledge of the WG and in concert with the WG. If appropriate, a QA Activity member will participate in the WG meetings.

The QA Activity Working Group will follow the procedures set forth in its Request for Assistance Process for establishing a review team, performing the review, and communicating with the WG. The QA Framework Guidelines will be used in the assessment of the WG deliverable, verifying that appropriate Framework checkpoints are met. Additionally, any relevant WG documents (e.g., Charter, QA Process) will also be used.

3.3 Adjudicate entry and exit criteria

WGs may wish to define QA-specific entry and exit criteria for milestones on the Recommendation track. The QA Activity Working Group can help to identify these criteria.

3.4 QA resource supplement

At the request of a WG, the QA Activity WG may be able to provide resources for the planning and building of test materials.

3.5 Resolution of external QA requests

QA-related requests received from organizations or individuals external to the W3C, will be categorized as to the nature of the request and handled accordingly. QA-related questions of general interest will be posted and discussed on the QA-IG mail exploder. QA-related questions on a specific W3C technology will be shared with the appropriate WGs and/or Horizontal Teams and a coordinated dialogue and response will be pursued. Similarly, test material inquiries and offers to donate test materials will be coordinated with the appropriate WGs, Horizontal Teams, and W3C Management Team. Details of how these requests are handled within the QA Activity are described in the Request for Assistance Process.

4. Conformance

This section defines conformance of Working Group processes and operations to the requirements of this specification. The requirements of this specification are detailed in the checkpoints of the preceding "Guidelines" chapter of this specification, and apply to the Working Group QA-related documents and deliverables required by this specification.

4.1 Normative sections

The following sections are normative in this document:

Any other section not explicitely marked as normative is assumed to be informative.

4.2 Extensibility

[@@Ed note. Though required by SpecGL, these new extensibility sections (and the SpecGL requirements) should be reviewed and discussed.]

This specification is extensible. That is, the Working Groups MAY set up quality-related processes and operations in addition to those required for conformance to this specification. Extensions to this specification MUST NOT contradict or negate the requirements of this specification.

For each degree of conformance claimed (I.e., A, AA or AAA), it is allowable to implement more than the checkpoint requires to satisfy that degree of conformance. This may be achieved by either satisfying some, but not all of the checkpoints of the next degree of conformance or by implementing additional conformance related features beyond what is specified in this document. For example, claiming to be A-conforming but also satisfying some of the Priority 2 checkpoints and some Priority 3 checkpoints.

The rationale for allowing Working Groups to define extensions to these operational guidelines is that these requirements are considered to be the minimal requirements for successful quality practices within the WGs. Doing more than the minimum is not only acceptable, but beneficial. Extensions also allow Working Groups tailor their quality practices more closely to their specific needs. The guidelines of this specification may not be sufficient to meet the needs of all WGs.

4.3 Test assertions

The test assertions of this Operational Guidelines document are found within the prioritized checkpoints. A checkpoint will contain at least one, and may contain multiple individual requirements. These requirements are the test assertions of this specification. A checkpoint is satisfied by satisfying all of the individual requirements. Failing one individual mandatory requirement means that the checkpoint is not satisfied. Mandatory requirements are those that use the conformance keywords "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", or "SHALL NOT".

4.4 Conformance definition

This section defines three degrees of conformance to this guidelines specification:

A Working Group conforms to the "QA Framework: Operational Guidelines" at degree X (A, AA, or AAA) if the Working Group meets at least all degree X conformance requirements.

An assertion of conformance to this specification -- i.e., a conformance claim -- MUST minimally specify:

The checklist for this specification ([OPS-CHECKLIST]) is the Implementation Conformance Statement (ICS) pro-forma for this specification. Any assertion of conformance to this specification MUST link to a completed ICS.

Example of a valid conformance claim:

4.5 Conformance disclaimer

The checkpoints of this specification present verifiable conformance requirements about the operational aspects of Working Group quality processes. As with any verifiable test requirements, users should be aware that:

  1. Passing all of the requirements to achieve a given conformance degree -- A, AA, or AAA -- does not guarantee that the subject operations and processes are well-suited to or will achieve their intended purposes, nor does it guarantee the quality or suitability of test materials produced under the processes.
  2. Failing to achieve degree A conformance does not mean that the subject quality processes and/or associated test materials are necessarily deficient to their intended purposes. It means that the processes have failed one or more checkpoints that best-practice experience has shown to facilitate and enable successful quality processes, that in turn have a high correlation with timely and successful development and maintenance of the test materials.

5. Acknowledgments

The following QA Working Group and Interest Group participants have contributed significantly to the content of this document:

6. References

6.1 Normative references

PROCESS
World Wide Web Consortium Process Document , I. Jacobs, Ed., 19 July 2001, available at http://www.w3.org/Consortium/Process-20010719/.
RFC2119
Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement Levels, March 1997, available at http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc2119.txt.

6.2 Informative references

EXTERN-TA
QA activity email thread about third-party participation in test materials production, available at http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-qa/2001Oct/0060.html.
MATRIX
W3C-wide conformance activity survey covering all the Working Groups, "The Matrix", available at http://www.w3.org/QA/TheMatrix.
TAXONOMY
QA Activity test taxonomy, a classification scheme for conformance test materials, available at http://www.w3.org/QA/Taxonomy.
OPS-CHECKLIST
An appendix to this operational guidelines document presents all checkpoints in tabular form. Available at http://www.w3.org/TR/2002/WD-qaframe-ops-20021108/qaframe-ops-checklist
OPS-EXTECH
QA Framework: Operational Examples & Techniques , L. Henderson, L. Rosenthal, D. Dimitriadis, K. Gavrylyuk, Eds., W3C Note, (initially) 08 November 2002, companion version to this document, latest companion version available at http://www.w3.org/QA/WG/2002/11/qaframe-ops-extech.
PROTOCOL-WG-TS
The XML Protocol WG has a TS process document, available at http://www.w3.org/2000/xp/Group/1/10/ts-contribution, and a contribution/submission license (example of a submission legal notice), available at http://www.w3.org/2001/10/test-materials-license.html
QA-GLOSSARY
A comprehensive glossary of QA terms, maintained by the QA Working Group. (Initial version under construction.)
QAF-INTRO
QA Framework: Introduction , L. Henderson, K. Gavrylyuk, D. Dimitriadis, L. Rosenthal, Eds., W3C Working Draft, 08 November 2002, companion version to this document, available at http://www.w3.org/TR/2002/WD-qaframe-intro-20021108/.
QAF-SPEC
QA Framework: Specification Guidelines , D. HazaŽl-Massieux, L. Henderson, L. Rosenthal, D. Dimitriadis, K. Gavrylyuk, Eds., W3C Working Draft, 08 November 2002, companion version to this document, available at http://www.w3.org/TR/2002/WD-qaframe-spec-20021108/.
QAF-TEST
QA Framework: Test Guidelines , K. Gavrylyuk, D. Dimitriadis, L. Henderson, M. Skall, P. Fawcett, Eds, W3C Working Draft, 20 December 2002, companion version to this document, available at http://www.w3.org/TR/2002/WD-qaframe-test-20021220/.
QAIG
Quality Assurance Interest Group of the W3C QA Activity, which may be found at http://www.w3.org/QA/IG/.
QAWG
Quality Assurance Working Group of the W3C QA Activity, which may be found at http://www.w3.org/QA/WG/.
DOM Working Group TS
DOM TS Process Document, D. Dimitriadis, Ed., 15 January 2002, available at http://www.w3.org/2002/01/DOMConformanceTS-Process-20020115.
REC-TRACK
Stages and milestones in the W3C Recommendation Track, per the Process Document (Process Document is available at http://www.w3.org/Consortium/Process-20010719/, see section 5.2).
SCHEMA-WG-TS
The XML Schema WG has a TS process document, available at http://www.w3.org/2001/05/xmlschema-test-collection.html, and a contribution/submission license (example of a submission legal notice), available at http://www.w3.org/2001/05/test-materials-license.html
WCAG10
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 , W. Chisholm, I. Jacobs, G. Vanderheiden, Eds., W3C Recommendation, 5 May 1999, available at http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10/.
WG-QA-RANGE
Email proposal by David Marston, on the QA public mail list, for range of Working Group commitment levels to conformance test materials production, available at http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-qa/2001Apr/0004.html.

7. Change history

2002-12-18, pre-Seattle WG draft

Revised Introduction, Conformance for better conformance to SpecGL. Implemented other minor editorial and resolved-issue changes. Make over all checkpoints for better verifiability.

2002-11-08, third published WD

Revised Introduction, Conformance for better conformance to SpecGL. Implemented other minor editorial and resolved-issue changes. Make over all checkpoints for better verifiability.

2002-05-15, second published WD

Checkpoints numbering is changed, changes list refers to the numbering from the previous WD [1].

[1] http://www.w3.org/QA/WG/2002/framework-20020311/qaframe-ops

03-11-2002

Checkpoints numbering is changed, changes list refers to the numbering from the previous WD [1].

[1] http://www.w3.org/QA/WG/2002/02/qaframe-ops-0225.html

02-28-2002
Major rewrite of the previous draft. Incorporated Lynne's comments about Gd1 and Gd4, split Gd regarding QA process, added bunch of new checkpoints.