[sc34wg3] Questions on N0396: (8) Conformance

Jan Algermissen sc34wg3@isotopicmaps.org
Fri, 18 Apr 2003 13:00:04 +0200

I am having trouble to understand the issues related to
conformance and implementation:

- (Section 1): I don't understand what a topic map processor is.
  N0396 says that it is 

  "any module or system that can process topic maps in conformance
   with this standard."

  What does it mean to 'process a topic map'?

  Do you mean a topic map in the N0396 sense or a topic map document?

  What does 'process ... in conformance with this standard' mean?

  When you write (also section 1):

  "It is assumed that a topic map processor will do deserialization
   on behalf of the application, and that the processor will manage
   the topic maps on behalf of the application."

  you seem to talk about topic map documents ('deserialization').
  I think a clear differentiation between 'topic map' and 'topic map
  document' would help to clarify this paragraph.

  Also, could you define what a 'topic map application' is?

  Is it the 'store' in which the topic map is stored?

- conformance
  Section 1 also says:

  "Topic map implementations must have internal representations of
  topic maps that have a documented correspondence to the model defined
  in this Technical Specification. A number of structural constraints
  and operations on instances of the model are defined, to which
  implementations must conform."

  Section 6 says: 

  "The topic map processor must make all the information described
  in 3 Information item types available to applications, and document
  how its representation of topic map corresponds to the model defined
  in that section."

  I don't understand what that means, can you provide an example
  (sketch) of such a 'documentation'?

  Does it mean that the implementor must reveal the details of the
  internal representation and how it maps to N0396? 

  Section 6 also says:

  "The topic map processor must detect all attempts to add duplicate
  values to set properties, and also perform all merges according to
  the rules of section 4 Merging."

  What is an "attempt to add duplicate values to set properties"?
  And, since they are sets, doesn't the set-ness imply that no
  duplicate values exists anyway?

  Also I don't understand why the topic map processor must perform
  merging?  Isn't the processor only deserializing syntax?

Lars, Graham, no intend to sound rude, but:

I have been spending most of my time in the last three years on
implementing topic map software and I think I understand what you
have in mind, but N0396 does not make it clear to me, what 
a conforming application would look like nor how to verify its

All RM vs. N0396 fightings set aside, and regardless of the final
result, I think this MUST be absolutely clear if we want ISO13250
to evolve beyond being DTD based.

Maybe I am saying something here, that does not make sense to others,
and I am open to be persuaded otherwise.

What do others think?  Has anyone implemented N0396 or its precedents?


Jan Algermissen                           http://www.topicmapping.com
Consultant & Programmer	                  http://www.gooseworks.org