Finalization - Getting Ready for Prime Time
- Since it's adopted technology now, why no release number yet?
- What's the difference between an FTF and an RTF?
- What does an FTF do?
- What happens when the FTF completes?
Since it's adopted technology now, why no release number yet?
In late 1998, OMG changed the way it names new specification releases to recognize something that insiders had known all along: The first version of an adopted specification typically contains more little inconsistencies and buggies than later versions, and receives so many minor modifications during its first maintenance revision that implementations need to be modified to keep up. In spite of this, until 1998 the OMG had given every newly adopted specification a release number and regarded them as the equal of specifications that had been through maintenance and had working compliant implementations.
In recognition, the group created the label Adopted Specification for newly-adopted stuff, and Available Specification for stuff that's been through its first maintenance revision. And, a specification has to reach the Available stage to receive a release number. That's the job of the Finalization Task Force or FTF, which we discuss here:
What's the difference between an FTF and an RTF?
The TF that performs the first maintenance revision on a newly adopted specification has the special name Finalization Task Force or FTF, in recognition of the difference between the first maintenance revision and those that follow which, by the way, are performed by Revision Task Forces or RTFs and discussed on our next page.
FTF members typically include all of the submitters; interested other companies may be included as well. The FTF is chartered by the TC that recommended the specification for adoption. Unlike regular TFs at OMG, voting membership in RTFs and FTFs is restricted to members assigned to it by the TC, mostly at time of charter although members may be added and dropped during its tenure. Even though you have to be an official member to vote in an FTF or RTF, their meetings and email lists are open to all OMG members.
Submitters whose Business Committee Questionnaires were deemed acceptable by the BSC play a special role on the FTF: During the FTF's existence, these companies are working on their implementations (back at their companies, since OMG doesn't do implementations) while they are serving on the FTF. Because they're implementing the spec, they're an authoritative source of issues that the FTF needs to fix, so their participation is especially valuable. And, because they have accepted an obligation to implement the final version of the specification, they have veto power over any changes that the FTF might want to make. Veto power is necessary for this part of the process to work; if it didn't exist, the other members of an FTF could (in principle) force a company to implement something it didn't want to, or couldn't afford to, or couldn't justify based on business reasons, just by voting it in, and this possibility would prevent companies from accepting the obligation to commercialize the technology in their LOI. In practice, veto power is used sparingly if at all, since FTFs (and RTFs) work in the same spirit of consensus-building that infuses the other phases of OMG work.
What does an FTF do?
The FTF deals with all issues that come into OMG regarding the specification that it is responsible for, starting when the specification is newly issued and continuing until a deadline set by the membership. Typically this deadline allows time for involved companies to complete, or nearly complete, their initial implementations. OMG maintains a web page where anyone, whether from an OMG member company or not, may submit issues. Many groups - companies, universities, and individuals - download recently adopted specifications and implement them. If you're implementing an OMG specification and you find something wrong, inconsistent, or ambiguous in it, submit an issue! This improves the specifications for everyone.
You can find and follow the work of all of OMG's FTFs on the Work in Progress page by searching for FTF, and RTFs by searching for RTF. You can also see the list of companies with veto power for a revision by going to the Recently Adopted Specifications page, clicking on the specification area that you're interested in, and on the table that comes up, clicking on "more" in the left-hand column or just scrolling down the page.
What happens when the FTF completes?
The FTF is a Task Force and, like every other OMG TF, it recommends technology to its parent TC for adoption. In this case, the technology is the revised version of the specification that it was chartered to fix up. This is a document which, like all candidate specifications, goes through the usual series of votes: Following the FTF vote to recommend, it must be approved by the AB, recommended to the BOD by the TC, and formally adopted by the BOD.
Following a positive BOD vote, the document becomes official OMG Available Technology. It is put, immediately but temporarily, onto the Recently Adopted Specifications page and takes its place on the queueue of OMG's crack editing staff who beat it into shape to take its place alongside the group's other Formal Specifications. Typically, Available Specifications from OMG and implementations from vendors (including those who LOI'd) become available around the same time.