Terms of Reference

From OPeNDAP Documentation


The Working Group Terms of Reference provide guidance for the Working Group Executive on running the working groups. In all cases, if something arises that is not covered here, the executive will discuss it and add information to the terms unless any member of the executive feels it should be taken to the community as a whole or to the OPeNDAP president/advisory board (to whom the executive reports).

Terms of Reference

This outline was provided by Denis Nadeau.

Background of the Working Groups

In open discussion at the February 2007 OPeNDAP Developer Meeting, agreement was reached on forming several OPeNDAP working groups (OWG). Each group was to have a specific focus, deliverables, timeframe, and a minimum membership of three people. An OWG executive would first formalize the OWG Terms of Reference and then charter each OWG for which a minimum number of members volunteered. A number of possible focus areas for OWG's were discussed.

Working Group Goals

Each OPeNDAP Working Group is established to apply members' expertise in their focus area to produce specific deliverables or outcomes, as listed in the charter for the group. The charter should identify the specific focus of the Group and the desired deliverables or outcomes. An OPeNDAP Working Group becomes established when the OWG Executive approves its charter.

Working Group Expected Outputs

Deliverables produced by an OWG fall into two categories.

  1. Software
    • Prototypes or
    • Production
  2. Documentation, including:
    • Software specifications
    • Standard Operating Procedure documents
    • Best Practices documents
    • Technical Notes.

In some cases the OWG may recommend that the ideas developed be taken to a more formal standards organization to be developed further.

Working Group Formation

Three people, each from a different institution, constitute the quorum needed to form a working group. Once the working group is assembled, the Working Group Executive must agree that the working group may form by a majority vote. After that vote, the working group proceeds with the blessing of the Working Group Executive. This means they may freely use the OPeNDAP resources set aside for Working Groups and that any documents, et c., they produce become part of the permanent record of that working group.

Who can become a member

Anyone can become a member of a Working Group, subject to the following limitations. Since working groups are expected to last no more than three months, simultaneous membership should be limited to two Working Groups so that individuals will not become over-committed. A Working Group's quorum is designed to provide a balance between a breadth of perspective versus the focus provided by a small group. Working Groups should be small so they can work efficiently while still incorporating the perspective of several people and/or organizations. Toward this end, the quorum should be made up of people from different organizations where 'organization' will be interpreted by the Working Group Executive. In general, a government agency is made up of many 'organizations.'

How to become a member

People may become a member of a working group by volunteering on the docs.opendap.org web site. There will be a list of proposed Working Groups there; people may volunteer by adding their name and email address after the Working Group name. Any member of the OPeNDAP community may also propose a new Working Group and volunteer for that group. People can get write access to the site by sending a request to the docs.opendap.org webmaster or an OPeNDAP corporate officer.

Working Group Themes

Initial working groups have been established for Authentication and Security. Other proposed working groups still looking for enough members include Virtualization (Aggregation), Semantics, Geospatial Interoperability, and DAP4. Additional possible working group themes are maintained under Working Groups. Some of the unresolved issues in each of these areas that new working groups could help resolve are discussed in the 2007 Developer's Workshop.

Time table and action plan

OWGs should aim to complete their discussions, white papers, documents/proposals within a nominal 3 month timeframe. In cases where prototypes/software are to be produced the timeframe can be extended with OWG executive approval), especially where funding is sought to complete the project. The intent is not to have stagnant or dormant efforts.