Continuous Publications

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This page discusses and introduces two possible new processes: one for handling continuously-developed publications, currently called Evergreen Standards, and one for handling registries, repositories, and the like, currently called Registries.

For Continuous Publications, aka Living Standards, we'll look into how to preserve W3C's cultural and institutional norms – including licensing (and exclusion), consensus, wide review, implementation and testing, in a definition of one or more processes. (Note the example of a policy at WhatWG.) We have a Process CG Issue requesting a process for living standards.

For Registries, we'll be looking at preserving those norms, as needed, for API mappings, schema vocabularies, and classic registries. We have a process CG Issue about Registries.

A standard

  • is a singular document that provides the specification of some technology
  • is a document for which ‘implementing the standard’ makes sense, and is what people expect to do
  • is supposed to be internally consistent, and hang together; adding a feature might involve edits in multiple places to keep the document consistent
  • has a well-defined meaning for ‘essential IPR’ to implement, and what is essential can be understood from reading the specification
  • stands alone, is not a sub-part of some other specification

A registry

  • contains multiple definitions, each of which essentially stands alone
  • generally conveys no expectation that anyone implement every, or even any particular, entry (there are exceptions)
  • has no definition or expectation that anyone claims, or expects to claim, to ‘implement’ a registry
  • is typically updated 'atomically', i.e. additions, e.g. of features, are typically atomic and don’t touch existing entries
  • can only define ‘essential IPR’ to implement for each entry, given that typically they are optional
  • is generally referred to by, or associated with, a specification
  • contains entries where each entry typically refers to a specification that defines the entry fully

Note that some registries have default or mandatory-to-implement entries (“all systems must support the unencoded mode” for example). One could hypothesize a spec. that said “these are all optional, but everyone must implement at least one”, but that’s rare as well.

Registries typically exist

  • to prevent accidental collision of labels
  • to document what labels mean
  • to provide mapping information
  • to provide an ‘index’ of possibilities, and the links to where those possibilities are documented/specified

The various characteristics of the existing process, Continuous Publication (aka Living Standards) and Registries are summarized below.

Recommendation Track Continuous Publication Registries
Update Periodic, WD→CR→PR Continuous Continuous
Licensing W3C RF W3C RF defined by embedding document
3rd party material Submission to WG Submission to WG defined by embedding document

There was a lively discussion session at TPAC 2018.