|FOUNDATION FOR INTELLIGENT PHYSICAL AGENTS||Osaka|
|Source: Board of Directors||procedures.htm|
The development of FIPA specifications
With completion of FIPA 97 ver. 1.0, reception of the first comments to it and production of version 0.1 of FIPA 98, it is time to draw some conclusions on what we have learned and document what has proved an effective way of developing FIPA specifications. This by no means implies that the process is frozen forever. FIPA must be open to possible future needs of improving/adapting the process.
Specification development starts typically at an October meeting with a Call for Proposals (CFP). Submissions in response to the CFP are considered at the following January meeting. Usually at this meeting responses do not go sufficiently in depth so that only an outline of specifications is produced. More information is sought by means of another CFP. The actual specification is then produced during the remaining 3 meetings of the year, each producing ver. 0.1. 0.2 and 1.0, respectively. The specification is then published but comments based on field trials are solicited. These may lead to revised specifications, ver. 1.1, 1.2 and 2.0, respectively. The last version, produced at the October meeting, is usually considered the stable version of the specification.
2. Numbering of FIPA specifications
A FIPA specification is identified by three numbers: the year in which work leading to that specification started, the order number of the part of the specification and the version number. The version is indicated by 2 numbers separated by a point sign.
So there is a FIPA 97 part 1 ver. 1.0 and a FIPA 98 part 1 ver. 0.1. Parts with the same number have the same title. Parts with a higher number for the year may just contain the delta compared to the specification of the previous year or may incorporate that specification.
3. The development of a FIPA specification
The development of a FIPA specification usually starts at one October meeting. The normal process is to identify which applications are made possible by which technology. Then the application(s) and the necessary technologies are documented in a Call for Proposals (CFP). In the preparation of the CFP the advice and help of the FIPA Academy is requested. The CFP is posted on the FIPA home page and due information is given by email to the FIPA mailing list inviting all interested parties to make a submission. The purpose of this publicity is to obtain the best technology needed to the specification. As a result FIPA invites all non-members who have made a submission to attend the corresponding meeting. This publicity and the invitation to attend extended to non-member companies also applies to the subsequent phases when comments on the specification at different levels of advancement are made public for comments.
Responses to the CFP are received at the following January meeting. Usually these responses do not go sufficiently in detail to start the real specification development work or do not cover all the technologies that are needed. Therefore at the January meeting usually only the outline of the specification is produced. The outline is published on the FIPA home page in order to solicit comments. Because a new specification often covers partially new areas, there is usually a need to change the TC structure in order to create appropriate groupings of expertise matching the needs of the specification under development. To get more in-depth technology and, possibly, the missing technologies, a new CFP is produced.
At the April meeting the responses to the second CFP are considered and version 0.1 of the specification is produced. At this meeting usually work is started to define the field trials that will be needed in the following year (see infra) to validate the specification. This is usually done by establishing appropriate Technical Committees taking care of this field trial definition phase.
At the July meeting version 0.2 is produced. At the October meeting version 1.0 is produced. This is considered to be a stable, although not definitive, version.
4. The maintenance of FIPA specifications
The FIPA specification at the level of version 1.0 is given wide publicity e.g. by sending it to other standard bodies and industry consortia. Members and non members are invited to validate the specification by actually implementing it in whole or in part and carrying out field trials and to report any ambiguity, deficiency or error to FIPA. A TC is established to process the comments received. Comments are processed by email and a first reply is given to the originator of the comment. At the next meeting a new version of the specification is produced (in January ver. 1.1, in April ver. 1.2, in July ver. 1.3).
At the October meeting ver. 2.0 is produced. This is considered to be final and no provision for further comments is foreseen. It may happen, however, that errors are discovered after ver. 2.0 has been published. These are dealt with by ad-hoc procedures that give rise to the publication of a corrigendum.
It must be emphasised that in the second year some or all of the parts developed in the previous year may be extended, giving rise to a specification with the same number but a different year number. This new work is separate, also at the level of documents produced, from the validation work.
FIPA home page: currently at http://www.cselt.it/fipa, soon to become http://www.fipa.org/
FIPA mailing list: currently run by the chairman. It contains the names of all those who
FIPA Technical Committees: organisational units headed by a Chairman appointed by the Board with a mandate of producing one or more parts of a FIPA specification