review of mhsds docs, possible companion document

Allan Cargille <> Tue, 05 April 1994 23:22 UTC

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Subject: review of mhsds docs, possible companion document
Date: Tue, 5 Apr 1994 18:20:36 -0500 (CDT)
Organization: Univ of Wisconsin
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Hello everyone,

I just wanted to note a concern about the upcoming IESG review of the
mhs-ds documents for progression.

  * Please note that this is NOT a criticism of the content of the
  * documents, just a concern about the ability of the general
  * community to review the documents.

  * I definitely WANT the documents to go forward, and this message
  * should not be interpreted as saying anything else.

My concern is as follows:

X.400 technology is complex.  X.500 technology is complex.  There
appears to be a very small subset of people who are experts enough in
both to read the documents critically.  At the recent IETF I casually
asked others whom I know through X.400 work if they understood the
documents well enough to read them critically.  Most have a good
general idea of the architecture, but very few said that they felt
qualified to read the documents critically, ie, as a reviewer.

That causes me some concern, because this seems quite different from
"normal" IETF documents.  In general, IETF standards-track topics 
seem either to be intuitive enough for someone with a decent technical
background to pick up and understand, or to have a wide enough
community associated with the work that there can be confidence that
the work was widely reviewed by experts.

One step that the working group chairs / area directors / IESG might
do if they share this concern is to develop a list of people who feel
that they can read the specs critically.  If this list of people turns
out to be "too small" (whatever that is), then we might make an effort
to ask capapble experts to review the documents.

I am also considering writing a small companion document that would
NOT duplicate any of the technical content of the specifications, but
would assist those new to this work in reading them and understanding
what is going on.  I would appreciate comments from people on whether
this would be a helpful contribution or not.

Well, better put on my asbestos underwear...  (Tug, tug)  ;-)