Getting machine readable copies of protocol specs

John Gilmore (hoptoad!gnu@lll-crg.ARPA)
Sat, 12 Jul 86 17:15:28 PDT

Good luck at this. The problem is that the national standards
organizations make money by selling copies of these standards. They
will not let the technical committees just post them to the net or drop
them somewhere for anonymous FTP. This has been an ongoing problem in
the ANSI C standardization effort. Happily the IEEE P1003 committee
developing a standard for "portable operating systems" (they can't call
it Unix(TM)) is in favor of electronic media and has been making drafts
and discussion available on the net.

I suspect the difference is because the IEEE is answerable to its
members, while ANSI is answerable to nobody.

PS: I was a member of the ANSI/ISO APL language standards committee
and it's true that designing a standard by committee is a different job
than building a working system/network/etc. The APL committee took
pains to seldom engage in "design", but to just adopt the best and most
compatible things from a variety of implementations, inventing new
ideas only when required to make everything consistent. Looking from
the outside, it seems like the ISO standards folks are building a lot
of paper designs that aren't implemented until after the standard is
approved. Anyone who ever tried to write a program from its specs,
without revising the specs based on what was learned during
implementation, will recognize the problems in this.

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