Re: Draft AGENDA for BoF

Dr James Coggins (
Thu, 19 Oct 1995 18:07:06 +0100

Perhaps I've been hanging out around lawyers too much, but I think
the resolution and mandate need some sharpening. I don't particularly
have an axe to grind in this discussion; I think I'm just making
suggestions to make the BoF procedurally more effective. So if I've
stepped on anybody's toes with this, it's not intentional.

I propose a rewording of the resolution as follows:

Resolved, that the ADASS Program Organizing Committee
should appoint a Software Futures Task Group to implement
the Software Futures Mandate adopted at the ADASS '95 BoF
session on Software Futures and schedule appropriate sessions
for presentation of the Task Group's findings and
recommendations at ADASS '96.

The resolution seems noncontroversial, but that's OK.
The mandate should raise controversies or the committee is of insufficient
benefit to the community. I propose the following alternative mandate:

Software Futures Mandate
1. The Committee should assess the degree to which astronomical
research is impeded by the structure and function of current
astronomical software, and specify to the extent practicable
examples of such impediments and what software infrastructure
elements, if implemented and made widely available, would
remove the impediments.

2. The Committee should assess the need in the astronomical
research community for collective action towards the development
of community software infrastructure, including but not limited to

o object-oriented class libraries
o distributed computation
o data interchange standards
o network-accessible computation and data services
o user interface packages
o interactive scripting languages or systems

3. For each infrastructure technology that is found to have a
significant potential for improving the astronomical software
environment and the productivity of astronomical research, the
Committee should report

o existing products that address the infrastructure needs
o features and weaknesses of each product or system
o challenges or difficulties that would be faced by adopting the
product or system through the astronomical research community
o development efforts that would be required of the astronomical
software community to make the infrastructure technology
widely available

4. The Committee should recommend actions to be taken by the
astronomical software community to implement and disseminate
the most profitable software infrastructure technologies.

Note: My proposed mandate does not use the word "interoperable"
because I think it is too ambiguous. I think I got the gist of the
intention in there, though.

These rewordings suggest that the proper ordering of the agenda is to
discuss and vote on the mandate first, then vote on the resolution:

If we can't agree on a mandate, or if we decide that the mandate is
not of sufficient value to the community, then there is no reason to
bother the ADASS Program Committee with the resolution.

If we can agree on a mandate but people think that the issues are too
urgent to wait on ADASS '96 then there is no need for the resolution,
but the mandate is still helpful.

Dr. James M. Coggins
Associate Professor & Associate Chairman for Academic Affairs
Department of Computer Science  E:
University of North Carolina	V: 919-962-1738    F: 919-962-1799
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3175	W: