Two interoperable implementations rule

Brendan Eich brendan at
Fri Jul 11 16:55:46 PDT 2008

On Jul 11, 2008, at 4:06 PM, Geoffrey Garen wrote:

>> Should a reference implementation, even if slow, count?
> My own opinion on this is "no."
> Since, for the most part, a reference implementation doesn't face the
> performance and maintainability challenges that shipping software
> faces, I don't think it fleshes out the same issues that a real-world
> implementation would.

I happen to agree, but this means there's more than a shared test  
suite in answer to Maciej's second question:

2) How is interoperability to be demonstrated? Do we accept good- 
faith claims of support, or do we need a test suite?

If only a test suite were enough, then the RI would have to count.

The chicken-and-egg problems with prototype implementations and draft  
specs suggest that we need all of tests, users banging on prototypes  
and causing new (reduced) tests to be written, and of course specs  
(ideally testable, which is the primary reason for the RI).

It will take nice judgment along with hard work to reach the point  
where we believe the specs should be standardized. It's clear some  
vendors won't want to risk implementing and shipping something that  
has not yet been standardized. I don't want to over-formalize at this  
point, but I'm happy to exclude the RI in the "Two interoperable  
implementations" rule.


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