Standard Committee on Standards & Processes

28 October 2008, IVOA Interoperability Meeting, Baltimore

A meeting of the SCSP was held during the IVOA Interoperability meeting in Baltimore on 28 October 2008. The following topics were discussed:

Theory standardisation process

H. Wozniak, chair of the Theory IG, explained the current situation with respect to Theory standards. The standards will be discussed during three sessions during this Interop meeting, plus a special session organised on Wednesday 29 October with the chairs of the relevant WGs. Two standards are being prepared, SimDB and SimDAP. The promotion of standards to recommendation is a WG responsibility, and cannot thus be ensured by the Theory IG which is an Interest Group and not a Working Group. SimDAP was presented at the DAL session and it should be hosted by the DAL WG. SimDB requires input from several WGs.

The discussion concluded that the current rule that a single WG is responsible for a given standard must be maintained. When other WGs are strongly involved, the WD 'inWG' discussions should be also held in the other WGs, under responsibility of the WG in charge.

SimDB involves DM, Registry, ADQL, Semantics, VOQL. It is likely that it will be hosted by DM or Registry, but more time is needed to assess which WG will be in charge. This was confirmed by the discussion held during the 29 October special session with the relevant WG leads. Participants/contact persons have been or will be identified by all relevant WGs.

Referencing of IVOA documents

The referencing of IVOA documents is a high priority, in particular for allowing IVOA participants to get credit for their work on the IVOA standards. It is also highly desirable that IVOA is recognized as a publishing authority.

A. Accomazzi, ADS project manager, confirmed that it is possible to create records for IVOA standards in ADS. A 19-character identifier (bibcode) could be created for IVOA documents, following the usual structure 2008IVOA.(9 characters)X (X is the initial of the first author of the document). There is an action on the SCSP and on the IVOA Document coordinator to propose a definition for the IVOA bibcodes.

As part of the standard publishing process within the IVOA, the Document Coordinator will submit bibliographic metadata to ADS in the proper format, generating unique bibcode identifiers and providing links to the online document at a stable URL.

Additional possibilities would be to publish the standards in arXiv, which also provides a unique identifier, and/or to DOI, which would allow referencing in bibliographic resources beyond astronomy.

The status of the documents in ADS was also discussed: RECs should be considered as 'refereed publications', WDs and PRs as 'publications'.

IVOA Processes

The RFC period of the updated document on IVOA Document Standards was closed on 15 October. Many comments have been posted and will be examined by the SCSP.

Assessment of the process during recent promotions to RECs showed that it is essential that WG and IG chairs provide their comments early in the process, i.e. during RFC (for the moment they are only invited to do so), and not only during the TCG review, which should be only to check consistency with existing standards. It is then proposed to change the wording of the IVOA Document Standards to indicate that it is mandatory for WG/IG chairs to provide their comments during RFC.


The recent proposal of introducing a new category (normative/informative) in IVOA standard documents is discussed. It is applied in 'Vocabularies in the Virtual Observatories' with reference to relevant IEEE and W3C definitions. It is concluded that it is not desirable to enforce formal tagging of normative and informative information in IVOA rules. The rule should be that normative information be clearly identified in standards (this is often done but putting informative information in Appendixes).

The meeting conclusions were presented at the IVOA Exec meeting on Wednesday 29 October.

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Topic revision: r5 - 2008-11-03 - AlbertoAccomazzi
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