IETF turns introspective with new wiki

A new IETF wiki documents the successes and failures in developing protocol standards

The Internet Engineering Task Force has set up a wiki to document which of its standards were successful and why.

"Some of [IETF's] standards have succeeded on a very large and visible scale. Others are successful, but visible only to a more limited community. Others have fared poorly," the IETF Successes and Failures wiki home page reads. "This wiki lists technologies and services that were developed in the IETF and represent notable successes or failures."

Assessing how successful an IETF standard has become should help the Internet standards body, and its working groups, better understand the impact of the work it is doing, said Dave Crocker, an IETF member and a principal at the Internet consulting firm Brandenburg InternetWorking. Crocker led the creation of the wiki.

"Our measure of success is that we publish standards. [But] We don't measure how effective they are in the marketplace," Crocker said. This wiki will allow IETF members to qualify the success of their projects, he said.

"What I had in mind was getting some concrete dialogue about the particulars of what worked and what didn't," Crocker said.

The heart of the wiki is a number of different tables listing standards IETF has published. The tables list the success of each standard on a preset scale, and offer a section for comments to justify the success, or lack thereof. Contributors may also create a unique page for each standard, in case further discussion is warranted.

As the wiki shows, some of IETF's standards have achieved ubiquity, such as the DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) and BGP (Border Gateway Protocol). Others, however, such as IMPP (Instant Messaging and Presence Protocol) and ODV (Open Distance Vector), have languished, seemingly little-used.

Only a small portion of the many standards that IETF has created are now on the site, Crocker admitted. Any IETF member can edit the site, and Crocker is encouraging members to fill in details about their work.

"Hopefully, there will be lessons learned from this activity that will influence future developments by IETF working groups and other standards bodies as well," said IETF Chairman Russ Housley in an e-mail interview.

Grading the success of the IETF standards can also serve several other functions, Crocker pointed out. It could help working groups focus their thinking on how their standards may get implemented, acting in effect a bit like a report card. A secondary benefit of the wiki is that it could serve as an aid in public relations, a place for the standards body to tout its successes.

This is not the IETF's first foray into deriving lessons learned from its own work, Housley said. In 2007, Microsoft software architect Dave Thaler gave a talk at the IETF 70 meeting, held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, in which he outlined some of the factors that make a protocol a success.

Thaler later wrote his observations up into an informational RFC (Request for Comments), which addressed the same points, and provided an appendix of successful standards.

"A single snapshot in time was very useful, but we hope that watching this over a longer period will provide additional insights," Housley said.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags standardswikisIETF

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Joab Jackson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?