Open Means Closed in "Standard" Protocols

Posted 18 Sep 2002 at 20:13 UTC by jimwelch Share This

PLCOpen want only members to have the latest XML standard for exchanging PLC lanaguage files.

PLCOpen New treasurer's statement:

At the meeting in Amsterdam, however, the new PLCopen treasurer showed that an improvement of the balance between benefits of the members, the income from membership fees and expenses promoting the objectives of PLCopen is needed. In an analysis of causality in the PLCopen benefits he stated: "We have to give the PLCopen membership a unique advantage that results in benefits for all members. One example may be the licensing of Portability Level and File Exchange Format to members only".

This is opposite from their description of the group:

PLCopen is a vendor- and product-independent worldwide association supporting IEC 61131-3 Via this programming standard we provide greater value to users of industrial controllers.

Benefits of Membership, posted 23 Sep 2002 at 06:13 UTC by Ankh » (Master)

It's hard to get a good balance between openness and giving members enough benefits that they stay.

If you don't give members enough benefits, they leave, and yuo have no consortium. Sometimes that's actually OK, but if yuo were trying to fulfill a community need, it's not OK.

I don't know about PLCopen. I can say that both ISO (the organization for international standardization, not an acronym) and the W3C (where I work) have taken different approaches. If you charge a royalty or a fee for your specs (ISO and individual countries' resellers charge a flat fee, often base don page count, for a printed copy of a spec, and use this to fund development work) you make it much less likely you'll get open source implementations. If you charge a royalty, or make the format available only to members, you clearly won't get non-member implementations. In practice this may mean people guess at the format, and make incorrect implementations, because they can't afford the spec. We certainly saw that for ISO 8879 (SGML).

The W3C makes all specifications freely downloadable, but that means we have to give members other benefits. Generally, being involved in developing the specs is a major incentive. Sometimes, seeing internal drafts sooner, knowing which way a spec is going, can be an incentive too. On the other hand we (the w3c staff) tend to lean towards wanting to make as much as possible available to the public, and our process requires that documents get public review at easch stage, and that all comments are responded to satisfactorily.

I imagine that PLCopen will realise that if they charge for their file exchange format, non-members will be less likely to implement it, and itneroperability may suffer. When you try to agree upon a "standard" (whatever yuo might mean by that), you do so for interoperability. So probably they were only considering possibilities in that lecture.

Several Objections to PLCopen, posted 25 Sep 2002 at 15:28 UTC by jimwelch » (Journeyer)

1. They use the word open in there title but don't mean it.

2. Even if they "release" their spec to "all" as in the past; You still have to pay to see the spec, even in electronic format.

Ankh, Your analysis is correct and more thought out then my short little soap box speech. I did not have the time that day to spell out my simular thoughts. Is there a discussion or white paper on semi-closed vs open specs that you know of?

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