Outstanding issues(1): Document organization

John C Klensin klensin at jck.com
Sun May 25 20:05:36 CEST 2008


In the hope of getting some discussion going that focuses on 
unresolved issues in the WG's charter, I'm about to post four 
notes that contain a list of substantive outstanding issues and 
loose ends with the documents for which I hold the pen.   This 
is the first of those four.  Please, for all four, if you open 
up significant new topics, change the subject line.   And, for 
the second, third, and fourth, please use separate threads for 
each issue so that we can discuss them, rather than addressing 
omnibus notes to the editor: if these topics were not at least 
somewhat uncertain or controversial, they would have been 
resolved and reflected in the documents by now.

The first, second, and fourth of these notes will be posted 
today; the third will be posted as soon as I've finished the 
review of inputs to Protocol that I promised Mark.

The WG charter contains an explicit decision point item for the 
organizational structure of the documents.  We have yet to have 
that discussion.  I am aware of three basic proposals:

(1) Retain the current structure of Rationale/ Protocol/ Bidi / 
Tables, possibly with variations of:

(1.1) Move the "Contextual Rules appendix" (now in Protocol, 
previously in "Rationale") into a separate document.  The fourth 
note in this series addresses specific issues with the 
Contextual Rule material.  There is also material in Rationale 
(especially the material that describes how the rules are 
maintained) that would presumably migrate to such a document. 
The advantage of doing this is that the contextual material 
really is separate material that should be maintained 
separately, especially since it may change more rapidly than 
anything else.  The disadvantage is that it means one more place 
to look.

(1.2) Move the "Contextual Rules appendix" into "Tables".  The 
advantage of this is that it constitutes material similar to 
that in Tables, where "ContextJ" and "ContextO" are determined.

(1.3) Drop the "Contextual Rules appendix" entirely, moving the 
explanatory material back to Rationale and the substantive list 
of rules into an IANA registry.  This is what was anticipated 
originally, but may not be reasonable.

(2) Fold the substance of Bidi into Protocol and some of the 
explanatory material in it into Rationale, leaving the structure 
as Rationale/ Protocol/ Tables, possibly with the variations 
above.   If we decide to do this, it may make sense to make the 
actual transformation fairly late to facilitate separate 
discussion of the Bidi issues and other things since those 
issues are fairly specialized.  We would, of course, want to 
identify the materials to be moved and to where much earlier.

(3) Drop the Rationale document entirely and remove all 
explanatory material from Protocol, Tables, and Bidi, collapsing 
then then-shortened Bidi into Protocol and leaving us with two 
documents, Protocol and Tables.  This is the approach to take if 
we believe that our only appropriate audience is implementers of 
the protocol and that we should provide them with rules and 
steps and not guidance. (I have referred to this elsewhere as a 
"this is how it is, just do it" approach instead of explaining 
to people why we have done things and they should conform.)  If 
we believe our audience extends in part to those who will need 
to construct policies and guidance for zone administrators and 
to those trying to understand the appropriate and inappropriate 
uses of IDNA in applications and other contexts, it would be, 
IMO, a serious mistake.   Reasons for both positions have been 
discussed on-list, but I don't think we have reached any sort of 

If there are other organizational proposals, I wish someone 
would start formulating them and sharing them with the rest of 


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