Tuesday, April 14, 1998 at 4:20:51 PM Pacific
Netscape Explains SWAP ReleaseThis email was posted on the email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org mail lists by Keith Swenson of Netscape.
I'd like to explain today announcement about SWAP (Simple Workflow Access Protocol) and apologize for any mis-conceptions people may have about the proposal to make SWAP a standard.
A group of us came up with the basic idea in December of 97. The original group included representatives from Actra, CoCreate, IBM, Netscape, Oracle and SUN. Many of us have worked together at efforts within the Workflow Management Coalition, but were not pleased with length of time needed for results. Some of us had also worked on the jFlow proposal to the OMG, but were concerned with the ability to support all of the assumed services.
Our goal was a light, simple protocol that would allow interoperability in a specific number of ways. We wanted something that really works, was easy to implement, rather than an all encompassing architecture. We decided that we would get the basic idea on paper, and then make an announcement to attract others to participate. We did not have in mind a specific standards group but did agree neither WfMC and OMG were not the appropriate standards bodies for an HTTP based protocol.
In February we determined that IETF may be the appropriate standards body to investigate for carrying this forward. Please remember that our backgrounds are from the workflow field, and we don't have a lot of direct experience with the IETF. We approached Harald Alvestrand and Keith Moore and did present the idea to the webDAV group at the last meeting. We received some very good advice as to how to go about setting up a workgroup are grateful that two working group chairmen allowed me a few minutes of time to talk about the subject in their meetings.
We found it necessary to go ahead with the press release because:
- the majority of workflow vendors, the intended audience for the protocol, are not active IETF members, and would not know about the effort if it was only announced through the standard IETF mechanisms. We need to make sure that these people are not excluded from the effort.
- We have not determined the appropriate standards body for this work. We remain hopeful to do this work under the auspices of the IETF or an appropriate standards body, but we have received mixed response to the proposal for a working group. The right thing to do is to define the subject a little further, make it understandable, and then see if it fits into IETF goals. We attempted to hold a BOF on this subject at the IETF meeting but this was not possible at this meeting. In any case, presuming that IETF is the only audience for this effort at this point would be premature.
We are mindful that the IETF has been burnt in the past by press releases, and is justifiably sensitive to this method of communication. We felt the press release was necessary to raise awareness and interest in the protocol effort. We have taken the following steps to make sure that things are done properly:
- The protocol is not presented as completed definition, but as something that will be developed by the group that gets together to work on it. We do have a "strawman" proposal, which is necessary to clarify the goal of the group, but we are ready to throw it away or modify it in response to input from members.
- There will be no closed meetings. Everyone is invited, from within the IETF and by other means.
- The IETF is not mentioned in the press release; there is no representation at this time that this is or will be an IETF standard. This is still to be determined and will be the result of the group's decision.
That being said, it is time to get to work. We would like to extend an invitation to all interested IETF members to join the effort to develop a protocol that will be immensely useful in helping workflow services to interoperate.
We are planning an open meeting on the days of May 4 & 5 in Costa Mesa, California. This will probably be at the Doubletree Hotel there, but the details will follow. Please contact me (email@example.com) if you plan to attend, and I will make sure that you are mailed the details. The strawman proposal will be emailed to prospective attendees at least a week before the meeting. Please come with an open mind and a willingness to work.
Please forward this message to whomever you feel is appropriate to receive it.
-Keith Swenson, firstname.lastname@example.org
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