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Standards versus Standards

TheArchitect.co.uk - Jorgen Thelin's weblog: When do we get a real RSS Standard?

Jorgen Thelin:

I don't think any of the versions of RSS qualify as anything like real standards, using my rule-of-thumb guidelines:[...]

We can draw a different distinction, that of de jure and de facto standards:

  • de jure standards are produced by standards organizations. This includes the likes of UN/EDIFACT, BSI, ISO and ANSI. These bodies are often concerned with certification. This does not include vendor consortia, like the W3C, which I understand is why they don't use the term standard. I'm really not sure where bodies like IEEE, WS-I, OASIS and ECMA lie.
  • de facto standards are the ones that get used, irregardless of who produced them. This includes XML, RSS, SAX, PL/SQL and J2EE; maybe at the fringes it includes Linux and Windows.

De jure emphasises the makers of the standards artefact, whereas de facto emphasises the users of the standards artefact. It's not hard and fast; the J2EE is not a de jure standard, but does involve certification. SQL is a de jure standard, while Oracle SQL is a de facto standard. A good example of a de jure and de facto standard is C.

What Jorgen seems to be looking for in a standard are some basic rudiments of transparency, openness, versioning process and a consensus driven approach within the context of an organization. The downside of excluding de facto standards is we wind up asking initially odd sounding questions such as "when do we get a real Linux standard?", or "do we have a real Ant standard?" It can be all too easy for standards to lose touch with what is actually happening in the trenches - at the best of times these are worlds apart, causing confusion and misunderstanding in software projects (and software markets). What happens then is that a standard is usefully subsetted to close the gap; XML subsetting SGML being a prime example.

RSS 1.0 is strangely enough neither de jure nor de facto. Pig latin maybe.

March 24, 2003 11:33 PM


Fred Grott
(March 25, 2003 01:57 PM #)

I don't think he means rss as real standard..

He might mean rss with w3c so that rss can be freed from the bone head brat fights that are occuring between the community of developers in rss and Userland which claims to be sole author to several rss versions..

Jorgen Thelin
(March 25, 2003 03:24 PM #)

I posted a follow on item about "Real Standards and RSS" here:

- Jorgen

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» Would the real RSS stand up from Raw Blog
Jorgen has a checklist, and argues that RSS 1.0 isn't a real standard because it fails his test of being [Read More]

Tracked on March 25, 2003 09:22 AM

» Real standards and RSS from
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» Real Standards and RSS from TheArchitect.co.uk - Jorgen Thelin's weblog
Bill de hra makes some interesting points in response to my previous comments about the standardization of RSS - "When do we get a real RSS Standard?" In particular, he highlights the distinction between de-facto and de-jura standards. I think this gi... [Read More]

Tracked on March 25, 2003 03:57 PM