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Network Working Group                                          A. Mankin
Internet-Draft                                            Shinkuro, Inc.
Expires: April 3, 2006                                             T. BD
                                                      September 30, 2005

          Requirements for IETF Technical Publication Service

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Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2005).


   The work of the IETF is to discuss, develop and disseminate technical
   specifiations to support the Internet's operation.  As the the IETF
   progresses, document and review of its requirements for the process
   and structure of its technical specification publication is
   increasingly important, in order to ensure continued support for the
   IETF's work.

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Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
   2.  Scope  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
     2.1.  Stages in the Technical Specification Publication
           Lifetime . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
   3.  Requirements Discussion  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
   4.  Requirements for IETF Technical Specifications Publication
       Process  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
     4.1.  Beginning-to-end Status Tracking . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
     4.2.  Post-approval timeframes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
     4.3.  Fast Tracking  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
     4.4.  Non-Author Editing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
     4.5.  Post-Approval, Pre-Publication Changes . . . . . . . . . .  8
     4.6.  Post-Publication Changes: Maintaining and Updating
           Errata . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
     4.7.  Indexing: Publisher Maintenance of the Catalog . . . . . .  9
     4.8.  Mechanisms for Changes to Tech Spec Style  . . . . . . . .  9
   5.  Two Experiments  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
     5.1.  Early Copy Editing of WG Documents by the RFC Editor . . . 10
     5.2.  Stable Permanent Identifier at Approval  . . . . . . . . . 10
   6.  IANA Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
   7.  Security Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
   8.  Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
   9.  References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
   Authors' Addresses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
   Intellectual Property and Copyright Statements . . . . . . . . . . 17

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1.  Introduction

   The work of the IETF is to discuss, develop and disseminate technical
   specifications to support the Internet's operation.  An important
   output of the IETF, then, is published technical specifications.  As
   the IETF progresses, documentation and review of its requirements for
   the process and structure of technical specification publication is
   increasingly important, in order to ensure continued support for the
   IETF's work.

   The term "technical specification" is used here purposefully to refer
   to the technical output of the IETF.  This document does not engage
   in the debate about whether it is expressed as RFCs or ISDs, what
   "is" an RFCs, how to classify, etc.  All of that is out of scope.

   The intention of this document is to clarify the IETF's consensus on
   its requirements for its technical publication service.  Discussing
   these requirements in relation to the existing service carried out by
   the RFC Editor is not a goal of this document.  However, short and
   mid-term experiments with newly understood requirements might be
   conducted by the IETF and RFC Editor, so a section below does open
   some discussion on this topic.

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2.  Scope

   The scope of this document is very specifically on the requirements
   of the publication process for technical specifications, leaving
   aside many of the other important topics related to the contribution
   to and creation of Internet-Drafts.

   Examples of topics that are important, but are consciously not
   addressed here, are:

   o  what will be in the acknowledgements section -- while the
      publisher of a specification may want some input on this, this is
      of a low priority for the discussion here.

   o  the meta-topic of document formats -- it is imperative to get a
      firm agreement of the entire technical specification publication
      process before zeroing in on formats for any part of it.
      Nevertheless, it is important that the requirements laid out here
      do not place undue restrictions on future document format

2.1.  Stages in the Technical Specification Publication Lifetime

   Figure 1 below provides a useful summary of where technical
   publication falls in the current lifetime of a document in the IETF.
   This figure shows a working group document and the review includes an
   IETF Last Call (LC).  The lifetime is very similar for AD-sponsored
   IETF documents, such as documents which update IETF protocols where
   there is no longer a working group, or process update documents.

           |  Author      | WGLC       | IESG,      |    |  Tech
   Actors  |  or          | AD         | Shepherd,  |  A |  Publisher,
           |  Editor      | IETF LC    | Editor,    |  P |  input from
           |              | IANA       | WG         |  P |  authors, et al
           |              | IESG       |            |  R |
   Actions |  Creation    |            | Resolution |  O |  non-author
           |  and         | Formal     | of all     |  V |  editing,
           |  Editing     | Reviewing  | reviews    |  A |  other
           |              |            |            |  L |  publication

           |_________________| |______________________| |_________________|

               In WG               Out of WG -            Post-Approval

   Figure 1: Stages of a Working Group Document

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3.  Requirements Discussion

   The rest of this memo discusses a series of requirements or
   postulated requirements for the IETF on the post-approval technical
   publication of its documents.  In two case, the memo has a later
   section describing an experiment for directed change from the 2005
   situation, but otherwise, as stated, the requirements are presented
   in the abstract.  The topics are

   o  Beginning-to-end status tracking - more view into publication

   o  Post-approval timeframes

   o  Fast tracking

   o  Non-author editing (publisher editing)

   o  Post-approval, pre-publication changes (by the IETF)

   o  Errata

   o  Beyond errata

   The list goes on for a few more, but this small list here illustrates
   the idea.  The IETF should determine what services best support its
   technical documents, and what the best tradeoffs are, then when the
   IAB, Internet Adminstrative Director and the Internet Adminstration
   Oversight Committee work on the Technical Publication function for
   the IETF, they have a clear picture of the IETF's expressed
   requirements.  (And also, during any particular implementation of the
   technical publication goals, the IETF can use these clearly expressed
   goals as a baseline).

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4.  Requirements for IETF Technical Specifications Publication Process

   This section lists the set of requirements for IETF technical
   specifications publication.  In each case, the current status is
   described (in terms of the extent to which the requirement is met
   and/or the means in which it is handled).  Illustrations are

4.1.  Beginning-to-end Status Tracking

   In order to function as a full publication process, enabling all
   participants to fully contribute to, review, revise and reference
   specifications, it is imperative that all members of the IETF
   community have current and accurate information about the status of a
   specification publication.  This may mean the need for a unified
   tracking system for technical publication, from the creation through
   the publication, or it may mean full detailing of status during the
   publication (access to more status during queuing time).

   Current status?  I.e., what is/is not tracked today.

4.2.  Post-approval timeframes

   The IETF does not work in a vacuum.  Many organizations (SDOs and
   implementing entities) depend on the IETF's specifications.
   Therefore, the IETF needs to be able to provide permanent references
   for, and final text of, specifications within a fixed time from the
   IETF's approval.

   Currently, the IETF has stated that it requires a stable permanent
   reference within a month of approval of the document, and that the
   final text must be available within 2 months.  In special
   circumstances, there may be a requirement to expedite that process.

   A consideration for the stable permanent reference is whether it
   should also be held out till the 2 month point.  RFC 2026 stipulates
   that a document approval may be appealed up till 2 months after its

   Note that this requirement is heavily interdependent with other
   requirements.  It has implications for authors, editors, and protocol
   parameter assignment personnel: they must be committed to timely
   action for their followup on any final reviews, changes, and actions
   needed post-approval.  (Small delays add up shockingly if one is
   looking for a month or two month turn-around; the AD and working
   group shepherd really has to act as a herder on this).

   The purpose of this section is not to discuss the current post-

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   approval time-frame, though in the Experiments below, we provide a
   suggestion for decoupling the provision of the stable permanent
   reference from the technical publishers editing queue present and
   future.  The purpose here is to understand whether the IETF agrees
   that we have these requirements, as well as accepting the requirement
   on ourselves of timely actions, if we support these requirements.

   o  Stable permanent reference one or two months after approval

   o  Published document at a predictable time after approval

4.3.  Fast Tracking

   The technical publication service has a publication priority.  In the
   ideal case, the the IETF would produce documents less quickly than
   the publication service could publish them, but this cannot be
   guaranteed for all future circumstances, and is not the case at the
   present writing, so there is a (substantial) queue with categories of
   priority (IETF working group standards track have high priority
   currently, e.g.).

   Under special circumstances, with documentation, the IESG vote to ask
   the IETF Secretariat to send a message requesting expediting
   publication for a newly approved document.  These circumstances are
   usually the requirement that the approved document have a stable
   permanent reference for another standards body's shortly to be
   published standard.  Our experience is that lacking the stable
   reference, other bodies often simply incorporate the text of the last
   snapshot internet-draft in an appendix to their document, which is
   highly undesirable.  But whether or not the pressure is as great as
   that, the expediting of the stable reference, called fast-tracking,
   is often a requirement.

   To what extent does the IETF require that the publication accompany
   the permanent stable reference in these cases, if the requestor only
   requires the reference?

4.4.  Non-Author Editing

   In the post-approval period, the technical publisher performs an
   editing role.  This use of the word "edit" is very different from
   "editing" in the pre-approval period.  The WG's Editor manages
   language and consensus from the IETF working group, Last Call and
   review process.  The technical publisher's non-author editor, in that
   editing process, is interested not in any aspects of the IETF
   development, but only in improving readability, correcting spelling
   and grammar errors, and so on.  These are laudable goals in any piece
   of writing, and the IETF should always be attempting to give less

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   onerous work to a technical publisher in this area by writing
   correctly and not "leaving that writing error to be caught later".
   But there are tradeoffs in the degree of non-author editing that is
   done, and the IETF needs to discuss the requirements it wants for

   How much copy editing is enough? corrections to errors only? or
   rewriting of the sentences to the dictates of a style manual, so that
   passives are rewritten, clauses moved and so on.  All the authors are
   then requested to check the changes and confirm whether they are
   acceptable.  If the changes are extensive (and in the past year,
   styles changes have amounted to 40-100 substantial changes in some
   documents) these checks can take quite a bit of time.

   The technical publisher's editor is unaware of WG consensus text
   wordings.  If those are very poorly written, then some intervention
   is valid, but if the changes are for stylistic reasons, and they
   affect a careful agreement, the working group may need to rework the
   change.  What is required here?  What are the benefits versus the
   cost to the IETF working groups of the copy edits in these cases?
   What do IETF participants want?

   The technical publication's editor is not always well aware of
   technical information and may modify technical meanings in making a
   stylistic alteration of some ambition.  What is required here?  What
   are the benefits versus costs to IETF working groups overall?  What
   do IETF participants want?

   It has been suggested that the best thing is to collect data and to
   involve the working groups ore heavily in the copy editing of the
   documents, to deal with both of the above questions.  The two issues
   above both result in long timeframes for author approval of changes
   (and author requests to not make a number of the technical editor
   copy edits).  An experiment on Early Copy Edits is discussed below.

4.5.  Post-Approval, Pre-Publication Changes

   Though occurring at the same time as the technical publisher's copy
   edits, the post-approval, pre-publicaton changes referred to in this
   section come from the IETF, and raise problems for us because they
   are often extensive and time-consuming.  The document becomes ready
   for publication, the copy edit comes to the authors and editors, and
   the primary author or perhaps several of them, present the publisher,
   with a long list of their own changes.  These fall into a number of
   categories, and it may be suggested that the IETF could agree that
   some of these are procedurally permitted (with appropriate steps) and
   some not:

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   o  Changes the author or editor wants because document will read

   o  Technical change WG has found and agreed on since approval

   o  Small update needed to match another spec approved since approval

   o  Serious technical bug found since approval

   The IETF has held that the author and editor are not the 'owners' of
   the document so that the first type is not a valid request.  That
   should not be a requirement.

   The IETF might decide to accept the other types, but perhaps require
   them to be submitted only within a fixed time after approval, rather
   than having them submitted in the last few days before publication,
   when they contribute to delay.  The last type, the serious bug, would
   need to be reportable up to the last moment.

4.6.  Post-Publication Changes: Maintaining and Updating Errata

   A technical publications service maintains errata for the
   publications.  If a bug or error is found after the document is
   issued, rather than republishing a corrected copy, because of the
   stickiness of web copies, a specific error notice is placed on a web

   What does the IETF require for this service in terms of:

   o  Public awareness

   o  Review of the erratum (who, transparency)

   o  Timeliness of posting

   o  Is this the right service?

4.7.  Indexing: Publisher Maintenance of the Catalog

   To come

4.8.  Mechanisms for Changes to Tech Spec Style

   To come

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5.  Two Experiments

   The following are presented as experiments against the existing IETF.
   One is running currently.  The second might or might be proposed, but
   it is listed as an experiment because it is given a fairly concrete

5.1.  Early Copy Editing of WG Documents by the RFC Editor

   Time: September 20005 - November 2005

   Objectives: Improve document quality early on

   Experiment to perform as much of the editorial work as possible early
   in the process, e.g., before working group last call.

   This note describes a very limited initial experiment that should
   begin to sort out the issues.  We can then decide whether further
   experimentation is warranted.

   Expected impact:

   o  positive impact on WG Last Call, AD review, IETF Last Call and
      IESG review.  This is expected because of clearer/better text
      early on.

   o  less copy-editing, so faster process after IESG approval.  This
      hopefully reduces the time between IESG approval and RFC

   o  Reduction of time spend in status AUTH48.  This is expected
      because there should be less changes (if any) between the approved
      text and the rfc-to-be-published.

   This seems to insert post-approval activity into the pre-approval
   period.  But in fact it makes what was a serial process a partly
   parallel one.  Part of the study is to determine if this
   parallelizing holds good, and there is not a long interlude on copy
   editing at the end of the publication period for these experiment

5.2.  Stable Permanent Identifier at Approval

   A large fraction of IETF documents have either SDOs or implementor
   consumers who require a stable permanent identifier as soon as the
   document is approved.  This is a compliment to the value of the
   IETF's work.  Although simply providing the technical publications
   right away seems desirable, there are operations research arguments

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   to suggest that the IETF offer what the IETF can control, the output
   of the IETF's approval, not gated on a service we can only give
   requirements for.  Here is an outline for steps in an experiment for
   the IETF providing the stable permanent identifier at approval, and
   how this would modify the requirements for the technical publication:

   o  IESG approves document, which may include some text changes in the
      form of Notes to the Publisher

   o  IANA performs IANA actions for the document as usual and places
      usual i-d placeholder

   o  The two month timeout on appeals runs out (document approval is
      now final).

   o  IESG assigns stable permanent identifer to the document and passes
      this to IANA and Technical Publisher

   o  IANA can now update registry with the stable permanent identifier

   o  At this time the editor must prepare a new internet draft with
      filename to be determined but which includes the stable permanent

   o  The internal headers must be modified so that they include the
      stable permanent identifier and convey the approval status and
      non-expiration of the document, for instance:

   September 5, 2005
   Expires: March 5, 2006

   RFC-TO-BE ####
   Approved September 30, 2005
   Expires at RFC Publication

   The new draft would not be as polished as the RFC publication, but it
   would incorporate the text changes and would be technically stable.
   Related to the section above on post-approval changes, if the
   timeframe for those is set as a requirement at two months, this draft
   can shepherded to include those and exclude all future, other than
   severe bugs that were discovered.

   The shepherds for the document should encourage that normative

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   references for the document have stable permanent references already,
   for the citations.

   This experiment would raise many questions: transition, execution,
   but it pulls together a number of the requirement threads.

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6.  IANA Considerations

   Any requirements that result from this discussion need to be reviewed
   by IANA and the IETF to understand to what extent, if any, the work
   flow of the documents through IANA are affected.

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7.  Security Considerations

   There is a tussle between the sought-for improvements in readability
   and the specific language that has often been negotiated carefully
   for the security content of IETF documents.  In general, it seems
   that clarifying the technical publication requirements seems likely
   to make sure that the IETF's secure protocols get out more
   effectively and with better result.

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8.  Acknowledgements

   The early copy edit experiment writeup is by Bert Wijnen.  Leslie
   Daigle has contributed strongly to this text throughout.

9.  References

   [1]  Narten, T. and H. Alvestrand, "Guidelines for Writing an IANA
        Considerations Section in RFCs", RFC 2434, BCP 26, October 1998.

   [2]  Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement
        Levels", RFC 2119, BCP 14, March 1997.

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Authors' Addresses

   Allison Mankin
   Shinkuro, Inc.
   1025 Vermont Avenue
   Washington, DC  20005

   Phone: +1 301 728 7199
   Email: mankin@psg.com, mankin@shinkuro.com
   URI:   http://www.psg.com/~mankin/


   Email: tbd.com

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Intellectual Property Statement

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Copyright Statement

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2005).  This document is subject
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   Funding for the RFC Editor function is currently provided by the
   Internet Society.

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