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Subject: RE: [dita] Re: Meeting Request: Issues About OASIS andOASIS-Approved Publications

Adding items to Su-Laine's points, which I did not have time to cover in the meeting, now posting just to dita-adoption, perhaps for further follow-up next week:
I agree that a DITA guide in this format is genuinely useful, at least for those already using the tools covered, though not necessarily as an "official" OASIS guide, and not as a tool for evaluation. It certainly does not pretend to be comprehensive.
In terms of evaluating DITA tools, there have been some efforts to date, including Bob Doyle's CMS article "XML Editors Review" and his more recent article in the April 2008 Intercom, DITA Tools from A to Z. I contacted Bob at one point and he mentioned that the effort to track the growing list of DITA tools is monumental, even on a yearly basis.
In addition to any legal or perceptual issues with OASIS trying to track and review tools in a methodical manner, I question whether we can handle the scale of such a commitment. It's no problem to track two tools. Twenty tools is another matter.
As I am a DITA adopter, and not a vendor, I know what I would like. :-) I have had to test numerous tools on my own, and this is probably typical amongst companies and individuals evaluating DITA along with new tools.
I really, really liked the idea of a standardized test suite DITA project for running against tools. It would not have to be a particularly realistic example, contrary to my desire for a separate, real-world sample. (A real world sample would not most likely make use of every single major feature of DITA and would probably look silly if it did.)
I find that when vendors say they support DITA (and no offense here to the vendors), it doesn't mean much of anything to me. I have to test what support really means and whether the level of support meets my particular needs.
From a logistical standpoint, we at OASIS may be in no better position than to come up with standards, define levels of compliance per some objective criteria, and possibly indicate what tools pass compliance when submitted to us. If we are going to take on this role of confirming compliance, I think the onus should be on vendors to submit on a first come first serve basis, not for us to find and track.
If we do take on the role of confirming compliance, I think we should make the process formal and announce it to the general industry via the usual communication channels for these kinds of processes.
I also think that a test suite would be really useful to vendors wanting to create or improve tools that support DITA. There have been a few tools that I have reviewed that--without mentioning names--have not impressed me with their interpretation and level of DITA-support. I suspect that if a particular vendor had actually worked from an objective and full set of criteria along with a test model, they might have implemented things differently, to the benefit of the market and themselves.
In an ideal world, I'd love to see the Help Guide's hands-on, real-world approach used on every single DITA tool out there. Such documentation would be fantastic for companies prototyping solutions and testing tools. In the end, I do not think it is practical for us to document every single tool, no matter how valuable. We may simply have to leave it up to each vendor whether they supply such documentation against a standardized test suite from OASIS.
On the other hand, I do think of the DITA OT as a lowest common denominator implementation. When I first evaluated DITA, I went to the source, then checked vendor solutions. I used the OT as a comparative baseline. While it would make sense for vendors to cover their own documentation needs proving how easy it is to use DITA, it would make sense for OASIS to cover its own open source solution referencing a standard test suite on equal footing. I do think it would make sense at the beginning of the material to make clear that the OT is a reference and one of many implementations, then point people off to some other vehicle for tool review.
I think it would be fair for us to post such a practical OT "guide" referencing a standard test suite somewhere, whether official or unofficial, and invite vendors to submit links to their own solutions, all on equal footing. And if the vendor solution ends up looking better than the nuts and bolts DITA OT, so be it (and I hope so, too).
For me as an evaluator, an OASIS test suite, a standard hands-on guide to get the reference system running for detailed testing, and competitive, comparative, parallel information from vendors would be heaven. In the worst case, I'll take a new tool and run it against the test suite myself without documentation and see what it can do. Either way, with or without accompanying documentation for the test suite, I win as an adopter.
-----Original Message-----
From: Su-Laine Yeo [mailto:su-laine.yeo@justsystems.com]
Sent: Wednesday, March 18, 2009 12:44 PM
To: Bruce Nevin (bnevin); Michael Priestley; stan@modularwriting.com; mary.mcrae@oasis-open.org
Cc: dita@lists.oasis-open.org; tony.self@hyperwrite.com; dita-adoption@lists.oasis-open.org
Subject: RE: [dita] Re: Meeting Request: Issues About OASIS and OASIS-Approved Publications

Hi Mary and everyone,


It's been an interesting past few weeks. Below I've tried to summarize some *potential* issues in publishing OASIS guides to technologies. Not all of these apply to any discussions we've had about this particular guide, however I think it is useful to put them on the table as hypothetical issues for purposes of formulating and clarifying OASIS's general policies on the publishing of technology guides under its name.


- The public might perceive that the products associated with subcommittee TC members are given more prominence than the products of non-members, and consider OASIS to be less credible as a result.

- Vendors whose products have not been included in the guide might complain that they didn't receive adequate notice about the fact that the document was being written, and didn't have a fair chance to have their products considered for inclusion.

- Useful information about a product might be omitted from a guide in order to make it more palatable to the product vendor who holds a vote on whether to accept or reject the guide.

- Claims about a particular product may turn out to be false advertising. If false advertising appears in content published by OASIS, who is responsible for it?

- Is it a good use of TC time and energy to try to evaluate a technology guide written by a subcommittee?

- Can a TC provide a meaningful approval of a technology guide written by a subcommittee if TC members do not have access to some of technologies described in the guide?


Again, not all of these issues have come up in the discussion about this particular guide, but these are the types of things that I think are useful to put on the table for purpose of formulating OASIS policy.


I also want to echo Kris Eberlein’s sentiment appreciating the effort that has been put into this guide so far by Help SC members. Much of the information the Help SC has produced is useful to the public; the question we are trying to address is if and how the OASIS name should be associated with it.


Best regards,



Su-Laine Yeo
Interaction Design Specialist

JustSystems Canada, Inc.
Office: 778-327-6356




From: Bruce Nevin (bnevin) [mailto:bnevin@cisco.com]
Sent: Wednesday, March 18, 2009 11:34 AM
To: Michael Priestley; stan@modularwriting.com
Cc: dita@lists.oasis-open.org; mary.mcrae@oasis-open.org; tony.self@hyperwrite.com
Subject: RE: [dita] Re: Meeting Request: Issues About OASIS and OASIS-Approved Publications


Where angels fear ...


Since my organization is a DITA adopter rather than potential competitor in the vendor space serving adopters, maybe I can dare to be a bit more forthright.


Representatives of member organizations meet on committees and subcommittees in a cooperative spirit to establish standards, guidelines, etc. to the mutual benefit of all.


Might another organization enter such a committee (or view its work and membership from the outside) and construe that cooperative spirit as collusion among an anti-competitive cabal?


Surely in the full breadth of OASIS such issues have arisen before and been addressed. As one possible approach, is "mutual benefit" defined in the broadest sense somewhere in the OASIS umbrella such that no one can construe it in a narrow, exclusionary sense, and can a TC or SC point to that umbrella definition should the issue arise?


    /Bruce Nevin


From: Michael Priestley [mailto:mpriestl@ca.ibm.com]
Sent: Wednesday, March 18, 2009 2:01 PM
To: stan@modularwriting.com
Cc: dita@lists.oasis-open.org; mary.mcrae@oasis-open.org; tony.self@hyperwrite.com
Subject: Re: [dita] Re: Meeting Request: Issues About OASIS and OASIS-Approved Publications

Hi Stan,

To clarify, I don't think anyone suggested that an OASIS member organization would sue another OASIS member organization. The question was, are there any concerns about a group of OASIS member organizations writing about the products of other companies (or writing about some products but not others, for that matter).

So much for not characterizing the issues in writing :-) But I wanted to correct the characterization of the chit-chat anyway.

Michael Priestley, Senior Technical Staff Member (STSM)
Lead IBM DITA Architect


03/18/2009 01:23 PM




dita@lists.oasis-open.org, tony.self@hyperwrite.com


Re: [dita] Re: Meeting Request: Issues About OASIS and OASIS-Approved Publications


Hi Mary --

Spring is in the air. With chit-chat about OASIS member organizations being open to suing other OASIS member organizations and OASIS individual members, it may not be prudent for any individual to characterize the issues in writing (hence the intentional vagueness in my previous email).

Perhaps the best course would be to have the TC next Tuesday "approve" the minutes of our meeting yesterday, thereby providing an appropriate starting place for defining the issues pertinent to the meeting that we'd like to organize with you.

Sorry ... I wish that it were as simple as summarizing the explicit points of debate.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Mary McRae"
To: stan@modularwriting.com
Cc: dita@lists.oasis-open.org, tony.self@hyperwrite.com
Subject: [dita] Re: Meeting Request: Issues About OASIS and OASIS-Approved Publications
Date: Wed, 18 Mar 2009 00:12:04 -0400

Hi Stan,

 It would be most helpful if you could provide the list of issues in advance so I can make sure to have the right people involved - once I have a better idea I can look at schedules and see what will work for everyone.



On Tue, Mar 17, 2009 at 8:34 PM, <stan@modularwriting.com> wrote:
Hi Mary --
In the process of reviewing the DITA Help Technologies Guide (attached), the DITA Technical Committee bumped into some issues -- some potentially legal -- that are beyond the scope of our TC. We suspect (and hope) that other TCs or working groups in OASIS have encountered and resolved such issues.
We are hoping that you could set up a concall next week with you and with the following DITA people:
- su-laine.yeo@justsystems.com
- tony.self@hyperwrite.com
- Micheal Priestley
- Don Day
- Stan Doherty
Two goals for the meeting --
1. Review the issues.
2. Identify from the OASIS side of things possible precedents, resources, and solution strategies
Stan Doherty

Mary P McRae
Manager of TC Administration, OASIS
voip: 603.232.9090

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