[sc34wg3] Strawman draft of ISO 13250-1

Patrick Durusau sc34wg3@isotopicmaps.org
Thu, 06 Nov 2003 00:07:43 -0500


Mary Nishikawa wrote:
> Hi,

> So here is Steve's note and my comments on it.
> *Steve Pepper
> This draft of ISO 13250-1 has been produced as a strawman in order 
> facilitate a decision by the Working Group on what form this Part should 
> take. The original proposal for a Part 1 was motivated by the perceived 
> need for an introduction to the fundamental concepts of Topic Maps that 
> could be read in isolation from the definition of the Data Model (which 
> is the subject of Part 2).
> *Mary
>  >> We are working on the *restatement* of ISO 13250. I remember 
> discussing (possibly in Balimore) that we should begin with ISO 13250, 
> update that, and make it part 1 plus including an introduction to the 
> parts -- DM, XTM syntax,  CTM and RM and how they work together. This is 
> what I expected the draft to look like.
As I indicated in a post to Lars, I don't hold the ISO format up as a 
model of explanation but I also don't think that a standard is the place 
for an introduction to the "fundamental concepts." At least not in the 
sense that Pepper has proposed for Part 1.

Perhaps it may simply be a divergence in what we consider to be the 
proper "scope" of a standard but to me a standard sets forth what is 
being standardized with a great deal of rigor and either in annexes or 
other publications does the introduction to "fundamental concepts." The 
purpose, to me at any rate, of the standard is to communicate with a 
great deal of precision what is being standardized.

>  >> However, we really do need the normative definitions in the data model.
>  >> At a minimum  for part 1, I think we would need  an informative 
> description of what Topic Maps are and something like N323 "Guide to 
> Topic Map standards."
>  >> I guess if the parts can be published separately, it would seem  
> that we would need the definitions in both places (yuck) but, don't we 
> want in the end to have a coherent  and complete document with parts and 
> without unnecessary repetition?
>  >> I have already expressed this some months ago, but I would like all 
> of the normative content to  be in the data model.
Hardly possible for all the "normative content" to be in the data model 
is it? We already have separate parts on a constraint and query 
language, which I have been assuming would be normative as well, at 
least for the parts they address.

> *Steve Pepper
> While there cannot be any doubt that the Data Model needs to be at the 
> heart of the standard, it should also be recognized that most of the 
> readers of 13250 will not be implementors. Those people need a clear 
> presentation of the concepts that is not intermixed with data modelling 
> concepts like item types and properties.
> *Mary
>  >> I also mentioned this before too, but there is a need for something 
> like Tim Bray's notes on the W3C XML 1.0 Recommendation. OK, I read 
> Tim's notes first and then I was able to take a crack at the standard. 
> So, how many people did read that one, and, was it necessary?  Probably 
> not. There were others around like Tim Bray to explain it later.
>  >> Tim's notes were not part of the standard though. I think that this 
> is important to discuss, since we need to examine what we are producing 
> as standards, and we need to do a kind of comparative *benchmarking* so 
> to speak.
Like your example of Tim Bray's notes and take your point that it was 
not part of the standard proper.

> *Steve Pepper
> The problem that has to be solved is how to reconcile these two needs 
> without introducing redundancy. This draft is an attempt on the part of 
> the editors of Part 1 to show what the solution might look like. It was 
> deliberately written without reference to the current draft of Part 2, 
> in order to be able to assess the validity of the approach originally 
> envisaged. (It was also left incomplete in order not to spend 
> unnecessary time.)
> There is now a large amount of overlap between Parts 1 and 2, but this 
> was to be expected. The questions we wished to raise, and hope to have 
> answered at the Philadelphia meeting of WG3, are the following:Is there, 
> in fact, a need for a formal, normative presentation of the fundamental 
> concepts of Topic Maps, presented in isolation from the definition of 
> the data model?
> *Mary -- No there is no need.
Agree strongly.

> *Steve
> Is it possible, by carefully moving some pieces of text that describe 
> fundamental concepts from Part 2 to Part 1 (e.g. 5.5.1 and 5.5.2), to 
> avoid unnecessary redundancy?
> *Mary
> No, I don't go for this, because it would weaken the content of the DM 
> and the normative defintions are necessary there.
> An implementor should not need to read through part 1 to get the 
> definitions in order to understand what the terminology means in part 2.
Agree strongly.

> *Steve
> Is there a need for an annex containing an informal tutorial, along the 
> lines of that in the XTM specification?
> *Mary
> Yes, there is a need, but whether it should be in the standard is 
> debatable.
I would favor having it elsewhere. There are other publication 
mechanisms within ISO, technical reports for example, that bear the 
imprimatur of the committee but are not "standards."

> *Steve
> A decision not to include a separate presentation of the fundamental 
> concepts will call the need for a separate Part 1 into question.
> *Mary
> Part 1 could then be a description of all of the other parts -- a map of 
> where to go for the normative information. This part 1 could include the 
> informative annex -- a tutorial if it is seen as necessary.
I think Mary's description of part one as being a description of all the 
other parts is closer to what I would think is the proper content for 
part 1. I would put the tutorial as an annex to the entire restatement.

Note that in partial reply to one of the questions Lars raises, I don't 
think such a tutorial could ever be "normative" in the ISO sense of the 
word. Topic maps are expressive enough that any tutorial would be 
illustrative and not normative in terms of using topic maps. The 
normative parts of the standard should set forth ALL the rules relevant 
for each part and be entirely self-contained. As Mary notes above, 
implementors should not have to hunt to additional normative portions 
elsewhere in the standard.

A definite negative on having definitions in two places. Not that I doubt
that successful copy-n-paste is possible, but defintions are read in the 
  context in which they occur and being defined in one place eliminates 
one possible source of divergent interpretation.

> *Steve
> The minutes of the Montreal meeting of WG3 recommended the editors to 
> follow the model of ISO 8879, which includes a tutorial in Annex A. We 
> wish to point out that this model is only partly relevant, since the 
> annex in question actually contains a reprint of a rather old paper 
> describing the general principles of generic markup, rather than a 
> tutorial based on the standard. For the purpose of this strawman, we 
> have simply copied the Gentle Introduction from the XTM Specification. 
> If a decision is taken to include such a tutorial, we envisage a rewrite 
> that contains more syntax examples and is more in line with the concepts 
> as currently defined and understood by WG3.
> *Mary
> Yes, we really do need this, but as I said, do we need it in the 
> standard? If we do have it, then it can only be an informative annex. I 
> think that eveyone agrees with this.
> It could be an annex of part 1, or I could even see it as an annex to 
> part 3 Syntax specification. Then Part 1 would only be the guide to the 
> standard.

I think Part 1 as a guide to the standard makes the most sense in terms 
of ISO requirements.

In in his original post Pepper notes that the standard will not only be 
read by implementors but even assuming that is the case, I think our 
first duty is to provide a clear and rigorous statement of the standard 
and then, as Mary notes is necessary, provide further explanation either 
in an annex or altogether separate material.

If for no other reason, consider that focusing on developing the 
standard leaves the aftermarket open for tutorials and publications that 
make the clear, but difficult prose of the standard understandable. ;-)

Hope you are having a great day!


> *Steve
> N.B. Since the current document is just a strawman, no attempt has been 
> made to ensure that it follows the latest ISO rules in terms of document 
> structure.
> *Mary
> Sure, no problem :)
> Cheers,
> Mary
> P.S. I will comment later on the DM  and the RM requirements.
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Patrick Durusau
Director of Research and Development
Society of Biblical Literature
Chair, V1 - Text Processing: Office and Publishing Systems Interface
Co-Editor, ISO 13250, Topic Maps -- Reference Model

Topic Maps: Human, not artificial, intelligence at work!