QA and Usability - Position Paper for the Usability Workshop

The quality of the specification has direct impact on the quality of implementations. Quality encompasses utility which refers to the usefulness of the specification to the intended users and objectivity which focuses on the whether the specification is presented in an accurate, clear, complete, and unbaised manner.

Quality Assurance at W3C

The QA Framework defines a common framework for specifying conformance requirements and definitions, and for representing the structure of the document as schemata, both of which facilitate the generation of test materials. The primary goal is to assist W3C Working Groups (WGs) by providing guidelines and verifiable checkpoints for writing clearer, more implementable, and better testable specifications (technical reports). Good specifications lead to better implementations and foster the development of conformance test suites and tools. Conforming implementations lead to interoperability.

This guideline was developed so that WGs can apply it in a common-sense and workable manner. The QA Framework identifies the conformance requirements and statements to be included or addressed in specifications as well as addressing the anatomy of the specification. Conformance requirements are the expressions that convey the criteria to be fulfilled in an implementation of a specification. The conformance requirements are stated in a conformance clause or statements within the specification. The anatomy of the specification pertains to the method for writing the specification using schemata. A specification represented by an XML grammar with sufficient granularity of the information conveyed facilitates the generation of test materials by providing the ability to point to, extract, query, manipulate and/or automatically generate test materials. Given the symbiotic connection between specification and test materials, this document also addresses the intermixed QA-activities of specification authoring and test material production and maintenance within the W3C process.

The QA Framework documents are available in the Table of Seven Documents.

The process for developing testable technical reports and specifications is affected by QA-activities beyond those that are explicitly provided in the framework. Specifically, the QA Framework documents are interrelated and complement each other.

The guidelines are intended for all Working Groups as well as developers of conformance materials for W3C specifications. Not only are the Working Groups the consumer of these guidelines they are also key contributors. The guidelines 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. The objective is to reuse what works rather than reinvent and to foster consistency across the various Working Group quality activities and deliverables.

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Created Date: 2002-09-23 by Karl Dubost
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