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Subject: Re: [tag] Added text about Variables in TA Guidelines

I think Stephen's verbiage about variables is headed in the right 
direction. It might help to talk about scope a little bit more.

In the case of the geo-political location or (my last example) the default 
collation, it is significant that the variable is set once and applies 
globally across all TAs that make reference to it. The same would apply to 
modules/profiles/levels: once the IUT has been assessed as implementing a 
certain level or aiming to support a particular profile or supporting 
certain modules (or not), then all the relevant TAs can be filtered and 
their implications properly cascaded. This is an operation that should 
only happen once per run of a test suite. Thus, a standardized design for 
TAs helps improve the design of test harnesses because the design can be 
based around resolving all the variables before running any test cases 
that depend on those variables.

The earlier example of the fuse rating is more local in scope, but may 
still be an interesting usage for variables.

Finally, I note that your example does not have a tie between the variable 
input to the TA and the result of the test. The default-encoding example 
shows this situation, so I think you should add this as another example. 
NOTICE that this example does NOT use the variable in a pre-req, hence it 
is significantly different from the geo-political widget example.
Variable: 'DEFAULT-ENCODING' the identification of the encoding used on 
XML output when no other encoding has been given. Type is string, because 
there is no universal enumeration of all possible encoding IDs. 
TA id: frammis-1 
Target: any frammis 
Normative Source: specification requirement 105, part 17
Predicate: If [the frammis] was not dynamically told which encoding to 
use, its output has DEFAULT-ENCODING encoding.
Prescription Level: mandatory 
To summarize: variables have a role as both inputs to and outputs of a TA.
.................David Marston

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