1. Introduction

1.1. Document overview

The principal parts of this specification are:

Integrated with this specification on a checkpoint-by-checkpoint basis, although published separately, is:

1.2. 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).

For this guidelines document, the term conformance test materials includes:

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

Early adoption of sound quality practices by the Working Groups (WGs) is optimal. Nevertheless, these guidelines are written for newly chartered WGs and existing WGs 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.

1.4. Motivation and expected benefits

As the complexity of W3C specifications and their interdependencies increase, quality assurance becomes even more important to ensuring acceptance and deployment in the market.

These guidelines aim to capture the experiences, good practices, activities, and lessons-learned of the Working Groups, and to present them in a comprehensive, cohesive set of documents for all to use and benefit from. They thereby aim to:

Read more in the introductory sections of QA Framework: Introduction.

1.5. Relationship to other specifications

This document is part of a family of seven QA Framework documents, whose aim is 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 family includes:

The Introduction should be read. It is the key to understanding the whole QA Framework family, and especially the pairwise relationship between the guidelines documents and their examples & techniques counterparts.

The QA Framework documents are independently implementable, but still are interrelated and complementary. For example, there is a close relationship between the WG processes for dealing with versions and errata (in this Operational Guidelines), and the test framework architecture for handling multiple versions and errata levels (in Test Guidelines).

1.6. Understanding this document

This specification uses a model of organizing guidelines and implementable, verifiable checkpoints. Each guideline and its checkpoints are organized and structured as follows:

Guideline [Number]. [Statement of the guideline]

[some discussion of the guideline and its rationale]


Checkpoint [Number]. [the statement of the checkpoint (its "title")] [Priority [Level]]

Conformance requirements:

[a statement of the conformance requirements of the checkpoint, i.e., how to fulfill the checkpoint]

Discussion [, Notes, Rationale]

[optional sections of informative notes, rationale, clarifying examples, and cross references to related guidelines or checkpoints]

Examples & Techniques for checkpoint.


1.7. Checklists to assess conformance

Two checklists facilitate the use of this guidelines specification. The checklists are in two separate appendices:

The first checklist provides a topical outline of the "Guidelines" chapter of this specification. The second checklist is an Implementation Conformance Statement (ICS) pro forma for this specification.

Use the ICS checklist to record a conformance assessment of a Working Group to this specification. For each checkpoint, consider the individual conformance requirements of the checkpoint and record in the ICS checklist whether the checkpoint is satisfied, or not satisfied, or not applicable.

1.8. 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 -- Priority 1 (highest), Priority 2, or Priority 3 -- based on the checkpoint's importance. See the priority definitions in the Conformance clause.

1.9. A chronological view of the guidelines

"Earlier is better" is a general truism for QA planning and execution. It is also true that later (than ideal timing) is better than nothing. Recognizing the diverse realities of W3C's many existing working groups, the Operational Guidelines specifically avoided binding the guidelines to any ideal timeline.

This table presents an example of an idealized chronological correlation between the individual guidelines and the stages of a WG's life and work. The ideal example assumes test materials (TM) development within the WG, starting at early working drafts, proceeding in parallel with specification development, and culminating with TM publication at the start of CR.

Correlation of Guidelines with phases in Working Group (WG) life
Guideline Task Stages of Working Group Life
1 QA-level commitment applies whole WG life
address Chartering phase
2 QA resource commitment applies whole WG life
address Chartering phase
3 QA & specifications synchronization applies WD LC CR PR Rec
address ASAP Post-Charter
4 QA Process definition applies All Post-chartering
address ASAP Post-Charter
5 TM development plans applies at or soon after TM started: WD [LC, CR, PR, Rec]
address WD
6 TM publication plans applies at & after first TM publication: CR [WD, LC,.., PR, Rec]
address LC- CR
7 TM transfer from external source applies [ WD, LC,] CR [, PR, Rec] (ideally before CR)
address WD- LC
8 TM maintenance plans applies after first TM publication: CR [ WD, LC,.., PR, Rec]
address LC- CR


1.10. Usage of terminology in this document

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. Generally useful QA-specific terms will usually be put into the QA Glossary [QA-GLOSSARY] eventually. When used in this specification, terms have the meanings assigned herein, or in the QA Glossary if they are not defined herein.

1.11. Use cases

The following scenarios illustrate typical uses of Operational Guidelines: