On Standards and Specifications

Standards vs. Specifications

Ever find yourself wondering the difference between standards and specifications?
A while ago I was working with one of our customers – T N Subramanian (TN)
Chief Architect at RouteOne. TN first
described to me about how there is this tension between Standards and
Specifications in the industry. Although I do not recall the exact
words he said, I was reminded of it again today after I presented on Pragmatic
to an audience in San Francisco.
, VP at Forrester Research,
spoke before me and briefly mentioned and contrasted Standards and Specifications.
I have been meaning to write on this topic for a while, so this brief entry
ought to do it.

The problem is you can find any number of specifications proposed by any number
of people. In the SOA and Web Services space, there are numerous standards and
specifications, many of them competing with each other and this confuses the
heck out of anyone. So as an architect, how do you deal with such an ocean of
standards and specifications?

I think, the key is to remember that a specification in itself is useless without a
community backing and a roadmap for standardization.
I will only incorporate a standard into my implementation roadmap and not just
a specification.

So the next time you look at a specification relevant to you, consider where
it is coming from and where it is going. Unless the specification is submitted
to standardization, it remains just that – a specification. So, as an architect,
you probably do not want to adopt that specification until it becomes an official
standard. Until then though, we can watch and learn.


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Cofounder & CTO @ Chartcube.com