Standing Committee on Standards and Processes

Successor of the IVOA Standards & Processes Working Group

Membership: Christophe Arviset (chair), Francoise Genova, GiuliaIafrate

IVOA Document Standards V2.0 endorsed by the IVOA Exec as an IVOA Recommendation on 17 May 2017. It is a stable document and may be used as reference material or cited as a normative reference from another document.

Group History Summary

The Executive Board of the IVOA decided to form the Standing Committee on Standards and Processes (2007 September Interop meeting, Cambridge, UK), to review and maintain the processes of the IVOA. This committee succeeds the Standards & Processes Working Group, which was officially disbanded at the May 2005 IVOA Executive Committtee meeting but de facto continued its activities to maintain the standards and documents acceptance process.


Rationale: The Standards and Process Working Group was created at the inception of the IVOA with the goal to define the standards definitions and promotion processes that would be used by the IVOA. This goal was accomplished in 2004, and in May 2005 the IVOA Executive decided to disband the Working Group. From time to time, however, clarifications and minor revisions are needed to the previously agreed upon processes. There is not sufficient work associated with these revisions to warrant reestablishment of a Working Group.

Charter: The responsibilities of the Standing Committee on Standards and Processes (SCSP) are to review and update IVOA processes in response to the needs of the IVOA community. When such updates necessitate the revision of an IVOA standard, the same processes apply to the review and promotion of that standard as when the revisions originate with a Working Group, with the chair of the Committee playing the same role as the chair of a Working Group.

Membership: The members will serve three year terms. Renewals are subject to the same guidelines as for Working Group and Interest Group chairs and deputy chairs.

Standards & Processes documents

IVOA promotion processes: Standards, Guidelines and Procedures

This Section summarizes the different steps followed by the IVOA Document Standards: status at the creation of the Standard Committee of Standards and Processes - REC V1.0 24 October 2003; steps towards V1.2 REC - effective 13 April 2010; steps towards V1.3, update of V1.3 to V2.0, steps towards V2.0 REC, V2.0 REC 17 May 2017

  • The first version of the IVOA Document Standards (V1.0, 24 October 2003) is here. This document describes the types of official IVOA documents and the process by which documents are advanced from Working Drafts to formal Recommendations. See also the companion Note on Document Standards Management: Guidelines and Procedures (V1.0, 25 April 2004).
  • (February/March 2008) V1.1 Working Draft (06 February 2008) posted. This is an update of V1.0 REC (24 October 2003).
  • (15 September 2008) The V1.1 Working Draft becomes a Proposed Recommendation. Launch of the Request For Comments on 16 September 2008, deadline for comments 15 October 2008. All comments should be posted of the RFC page. Discussion about any of the comments or responses will be conducted on the Standards & Processes mailing list,
  • (16 February 2009) Following the comments recieved during the RFC, the IVOA Documents standard document has been reversed to WD. Significant changes: merging of the Guidelines and Procedures document with the Standards document; new numbering scheme with detailed example of usage. The new version (V1.2, 14 January 2009) is posted here. A new RFC is expected to be launched at the beginning of March 2009. If you have comments you would like to share with the community, please post them at IvoaStdsDocsProc/CommentsV1.2
  • (2 March 2009) PR V1.2 is available. Comments posted on the preliminary comments page have been copied to the RFC page. The formal RFC will be launched later but the RFC page is available for posting comments.
  • (11 May 2009) Formal RFC open at RFC, 12 May 2009 - 11 June 2009
  • (02 October 2009) Updated version of PR V1.2 taking into account the RFC comments and discussion at the TCG telecon held on 16 September 2009. Open for the final TCG comments at RFC.
  • (13 April 2010) IVOA Document Standards V1.2 endorsed by the IVOA Executive Committee as an IVOA Recommendation. It is a stable document and may be used as reference material or cited as a normative reference from another document.
  • (28 September 2014) First draft of V1.3, proposing a new endorsement track to deal with errata, implementation notes, etc, following the discussion at the May 2014 Interop TCG meeting. The file can be found here DocStd13 - this page also describes the pre-Working Draft history of V1.3-V2.0, which is summarized in the following.
  • (8 May 2016) Discussion of V1.3, 5 May 2016 version during the Cape Town Interoperability meeting. It is decided:
    • To update the version number to 2.0
    • To implement Endorsed Notes with eventually a Proposed Endorsed Note phase, in particular when the TCG decides to launch a RfC
    • To implement errata
  • (30 August 2016) WD V2.0, 30 August 2016 sent to TCG for comments. Questions:
    • Is it OK and sufficient to link the errata in the standard landing page (and not in the standard document itself)?
    • Do we add an extension in the Document number each time a list of errata is approved?
  • (9 September 2017) WD V2.0, 9 September 2017 published in the document repository
  • (23 September 2016) Proposed Recommendation PR V2.0, 23 September 2016 published in the document repository, RFC 25 September 2016 - 5 November 2016
  • (21-23 October 2016) Trieste Interoperability meeting, no dedicated meeting but discussion of several aspects with several TCG members
  • (29 March 2017) PR V2.0 29 March 2017, version taking into account the numerous comments recieved during the RFC, submitted to TCG Vote 31 March-14 April 2017
  • (14 April 2017) Positive votes from all the WGs, minor comments from M. Taylor
  • (24 April 2017) Final PR version V2.0 PR 24 April 2017 taking into account the last comments, to be submitted to Exec
  • (8 May 2017) Draft RFC page for V2.0 process here, updated from TCG comments
  • (17 May 2017) V2.0 accepted by Exec as IVOA Recommendation
  • (2 June 2017) New RFC page for V2.0 TemplateRFC

Software License

IVOA Document Location & Submission

  • All the IVOA documents can be found here. The page gives access to the different types of IVOA documents: recommendation track documents (Working Drafts, Proposed Recommendations, Recommendations, displayed on the individualrecommendation track for each standard) and Notes.
  • Document submission
    • Templates of documents can be found here
    • Documents should be submitted through a form which is here
  • XML Schemas are accessible from here


Sample request For Comments

e-mail to: _from: Bob Hanisch, chair of Document Standards Working Group

This is a Request for Comments on the Better Style Proposed Recommendation, Version 1.0, which we wish to promote to Recommendation.

The TWiki page for comments is

and the deadline for comments is 28 June 2005.

Please post all comments on the TWiki page rather than replying to this e-mail.

Thanks, Bob_

Do Notes need to be published under coverage of an IVOA WG or IG?

The answer is NO: An IVOA Note is a dated, public record of an idea, comment, or document. Authorship of a Note may vary greatly (e.g., by an IVOA Working Group, by an IVOA Member, etc.).

Status of the yearly Assessment and Future Roadmap

It is published as a Note from the TCG and approved by the IVOA Executive Committee.

Normative/informative information

Some authors have expressed interest in using the notion of normative and informative information. It has for the first time been included in Vocabularies in the Virtual Observatory WD V1.10.

Following a discussion between N. Gray and B. Hanisch, the following definition, derived from the relevant definitions in IEEE and W3C, has been included in V1.14: Normative text means information that is required to implement the Recommendation; an implementation of this Recommendation is conformant if it abides by all the rescriptions contained in normative text. Informative text is information provided to clarify or illustrate a requirement but which is not required for conformance. The following additional information is also given: The sections and subsections of this Recommendation are labeled, after the section heading, to specify whether they are normative or informative. If a subsection is not labeled, it has the same normativity as its parent section. References are normative if they are referred to within normative text. Within normative sections, the key words must, must not, required, shall, shall not, should, should not, recommended, may, and optional in this document are to be interpreted as described in RFC2119 - Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement Levels (S. Bradner, 1997).

This topic was discussed at the SCSP meeting at the Baltimore Interop. 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).

Discussion topics relevant to SCSP

IVOA document numbering scheme

There have been many questions about the initial (Document Standards V1.0) IVOA Document numbering scheme. A new numbering scheme has been defined in Document Standards V1.2 after discussion with the TCG.

How can IVOA documents be referenced

How can IVOA documents be referenced (one requirement being that the authors get proper citation index) (I. Chilingarian et al, starting on 16 June 2008)? One possible path forward (to be discussed) might be to create a bibcode for referencing in the ADS. This topic was discussed during the SCSP meeting at Baltimore Interop. Follow up actions required.

(8 December 2010)The subject of Publication of IVOA standards will be dealt with in the framework of the Data Curation & Preservation Interest Group during the Nara Interoperability meeting InterOpDec2010DCP.

As a result of the discussions IVOA Recommendations are now submitted to ArXiv by the Document Coordinator and referenced by the ADS.

Errata for standards

The point was raised by Markus Demleitner in December 2013. A text is proposed to amend the Standards Document, and a page was open for comments. The topic was discussed during the TCG meeting during the May 2014 Interop. It was concluded that errata should appear in a file different from the original standard document and that they should follow the same endorsement track as other kinds of 'strong notes', such as implementation notes, under TCG responsibility. An updated version of the standard was submitted to discussion on 28 September 2014. Errata (and Endorsed Notes) are implemented in DocStd2.0.

Improve the information in the submission tool for schema submission

Done by Ray Plante and Sarah Emery Bunn in September 2013 (DocReposXMLSchemas#Schema_filenames)

Definition of a name space under for RDF vocabularies

(N. Gray et al., starting 28 July 2008), agreed at TCG teleconference (4 September 2008):


Additional on-going discussion: can we have unversioned names (as in the above example), and versioned descriptions?

Procedure to follow for the Recommandation Process of Theory standards

(H. Wozniak et al., discussion started on 11 July 2008). Discussed at the Baltimore Interop (Theory IG, SCSP meeting, Exec). Standards under responsibility of the relevant WGs, active participation of Theory IG in their definition.

Location/uri of IVOA standards schema

(VOTable discussion at October 2008 Baltimore Interop).

Fast REC track for slight changes in standards

Examples from the Nara Dec 2010 Interop

  • Apps - SAMP v1.2:
    • minor update to v1.11
    • No disagreements (actually no comments) in promotion process
      • is the process heavyweight for minor changes
  • DAL - SSA 1.1
    • minor errata update to fix issues
    • short WG review of WD
    • anticipate no need for RFC + TCG review

SCSP session at October 2008 Interop (Baltimore)

A session of the SCSP was held during the October 2008 Interop meeting. A summary of the discussions is here.

Additional information on the work of the IVOA Standards & Processes Working Group (2002-2005)

Working Group Chair

The Working Group chair was Bob Hanisch.

Document Promotion Process Checklist (May 2005)

Here is a summary of the document promotion process as described in

  1. Working Group prepares Working Draft and submits to Document Coordinator for posting in the IVOA document collection.
  2. Working Group reviews the Working Draft. Two reference implementations of any associated software are recommended.
  3. The Chair of the Working Group, with consent of the WG, promotes the document to a Proposed Recommendation and submits it to the Document Coordinator for posting in the IVOA document collection.
  4. The Chair of the Working Group issues a formal Request for Comments (RFC) to the e-mail distribution list The RFC and all comments must be logged on a TWiki page whose URL is given in the RFC. A minimum comment period of 4 weeks must be allowed. See the example below.
  5. The Working Group Chair responds to comments on the TWiki page. If comments lead to significant changes to the document, the status reverts to Working Draft (back to Step 1).
  6. If comments are addressed to the satisfaction of the WG Chair and WG members, the WG Chair requests the IVOA Chair to submit it to the Executive Committee for approval.
  7. The Executive Committee is polled by the IVOA Chair to ascertain if there is consensus for promotion to Recommendation.
  8. If yes, the IVOA Chair reports on approval to the WG Chair and asks the Document Coordinator to update the document status to Recommendation. If no, the concerns of the IVOA Executive need to be resolved and a new poll taken, or if serious revisions are required, the document would revert to Step 1.
  9. The IVOA Executive may propose to the IAU Commission 5 that IVOA Recommendations be endorsed as IAU Standards.
Here is a sample RFC:

e-mail to: from: Bob Hanisch, chair of Document Standards Working Group

This is a Request for Comments on the Better Style Proposed Recommendation, Version 1.0, which we wish to promote to Recommendation.

The TWiki page for comments is

and the deadline for comments is 28 June 2005.

Please post all comments on the TWiki page rather than replying to this e-mail.

Thanks, Bob

WG Roadmap

This Working Group developed the document standards promotion process (following generally the procedure used by the W3C) and provided guidelines on document preparation, formatting, and version numbering. See the October 2003 Recommendation "IVOA Document Standards V1.0" ( and April 2004 Note "Document Standards Management: Guidelines and Procedures V1.0" (

With the addition of the above Checklist the task of this Working Group is concluded and, with the May 2005 meeting of the IVOA Executive, this WG has been disbanded. It de facto continued its activities until the creation of the Standing Committee on Standards and Processes in September 2007.

Documentation for the Document Coordinator

A handbook for the Document Coordinator is under development under DocCoordinatorHandbook.


  • General working-group discussion archive.
Topic attachments
I Attachment History Action Size Date Who Comment
Microsoft Word filedoc DocumentStandards-20080915.doc r1 manage 352.0 K 2008-09-15 - 13:27 FrancoiseGenova Standards & Processes V1.1, PR 15092008
HTMLhtml License-generic.html r1 manage 11.6 K 2003-10-01 - 12:24 MarkusDolensky generic software license for VO components
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