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Re: Tentative agenda for COMCIFS closed meetings Aug 28th and Aug 29th

Dear COMCIFS members,

While in an ideal world we would all have had time to digest and consider the new DDLm proposal well prior to the meeting, I am informed that it is relatively recent work with the final touches still being applied. Syd and Nick quite reasonably would like a chance to guide us through it before we begin discussion. So, given the short time between presentation and discussion, I do not think a vote to adopt the new DDLm is likely to occur at the second closed meeting.  Likewise, without consideration of the contents of the new DDLm proposal, it would not be sensible to adopt the "old" DDLm specification.  I am however hopeful that CIF2 syntax will be relatively unaffected by the new DDLm proposal, so that we have a reasonable chance of voting to accept syntax.  For this reason I have suggested that only a CIF2 syntax vote will be conducted.

Of course, if we all find ourselves in agreement, then we may also vote on adopting DDLm.

I hope that this clarifies the situation.


On Tue, Aug 16, 2011 at 1:22 PM, Herbert J. Bernstein <yaya@bernstein-plus-sons.com> wrote:
Dear Colleagues,

 Might is be possible to see a document on the new DDLm prior to the meeting?

 Shouldn't we be having three separate discussions and possible votes: One on DDLm as currently posted, one on DDLm as newly presented, and one on CIF2?  The first of these could be done on the 28th.

 Herbert J. Bernstein, Professor of Computer Science
  Dowling College, Kramer Science Center, KSC 121
       Idle Hour Blvd, Oakdale, NY, 11769


On Tue, 16 Aug 2011, James Hester wrote:

Dear COMCIFS members:

Below is a tentative agenda for the two COMCIFS closed meetings.  Note that the Aug 29th meeting will
occur directly after MS89, at which Nick Spadaccini and Syd Hall will be presenting a revised version of
DDLm.  I expect that presentation to provoke considerable discussion, which is why the Aug 29th meeting
will be entirely devoted to CIF2 and DDLm discussion.  Please advise if you would like anything added to
the agenda on Aug 28th. 

COMCIFS meeting agenda: Aug 28th

1. Brief report from chair on developments in previous triennium
2. COMCIFS directions over next triennium:
 (i) reforming dictionary management (see also Brian MacMahon's email of July 6th)
 (ii) developing a solid software base (APIs, canonical parser libraries in C/C++)
 (iii) other concerns to be raised by members

COMCIFS meeting agenda: Aug 29th

3. Discussion of DDLm as presented in MS89
4. Subject to outcome, if any, of (3), *final* vote on CIF2 syntax draft as distributed by email last week
5. Any other business

Explanation of item 2(i):

I propose partitioning dictionaries that are managed by COMCIFS into three groups:
(i) the 'core' group which are small enough and/or general enough for COMCIFS members to be able to
approve both content and technical conformance;
(ii) a 'delegated' group where COMCIFS delegates management of dictionary content to an outside body or
dictionary management group; once COMCIFS has voted to delegate this management, no further votes would be
required to approve dictionary content or updates, but technical correctness would be checked;
(iii) a 'contributed' group where COMCIFS makes no statement as to scientific content and simply checks
technical conformance.  This group would correspond to those dictionaries that Brian was discussing in his
email, and technical conformance would mean a simple syntax and DDL conformance check, not requiring a
vote at COMCIFS level.

Explanation of item 2(ii):

Over the years COMCIFS has had various initiatives to produce and promote CIF software, but we are still
at the stage where it is difficult to find a standalone CIF parser written in C that could serve as a
starting point for integration into other languages, scripting or compiled, or could be dropped into a
larger software project.  Part of such an effort would be development of an API.  I propose that COMCIFS
set itself the entirely modest goal of developing and approving an API and a modular C parser before the
next meeting.  We will discuss the best way forward.
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