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Development Guide⚓︎

This document describes the Data Product Descriptor Specification (DPDS) development processes.

These processes have been established to provide an open and transparent mechanism for evolving DPDS.

When contributing to the DPDS evolution consider the Code of Conduct to better understand expected and unacceptable behavior and Design Princilples to ensure your proposed changes are effective and well-aligned.

While participating in the specification evolution is a valuable contribution, there are also other popular ways to contribute listed here

This document will be adjusted as practicality dictate

Change Criteria⚓︎

DPDS evolves through a series of atomic changes. We're open to changes, and these can be proposed by anyone. Changes may be made when any of the following criteria are met:

  • Clarity. The current "way" something is done doesn't make sense, is complicated, or not clear.

  • Consistency. A portion of the specification is not consistent with the rest, or with the industry standard terminology.

  • Necessary functionality. We are missing functionality because of a certain design of the specification.

  • Forward-looking designs. As usage of APIs evolves to new protocols, formats, and patterns, we should always consider what the next important functionality should be.

  • Impact. A change will provide impact on a large number of real use cases. We should not be forced to accommodate every use case. We should strive to make the common and important use cases both well supported and common in the definition of the DPDS. We cannot be edge-case driven.

Editorial Changes⚓︎

Editorial changes do not change the interpretation of the specification but instead improve legibility, fix editorial errors, clear up ambiguity, and improve examples

Editorial changes are welcome as PR and can be merged into the specification by a DPDS Maintainer without a formal process.

Specification Changes⚓︎

Specification changes do meaningfully change the interpretation of the specification.

Small specification changes are welcome as PR and can be merged into the specification by a DPDS Maintainer without a formal process.

Bigger specification changes require a more formal process. This type of contribution must follow a formal RFC (Request For Comments) process led by a champion through a series of stages intended to improve visibility, allow for discussion to reach the best solution, and arrive at consensus. This process becomes even more important as DPDS's community broadens.

RFC Change Process⚓︎

  1. Start a discussion of type "Brainstorm". The discussion entry must describe at least the problem it wants to solve and why it matters. At this stage, a description of the possible solution is not required. If there is engagement and support for the proposal over time, then it can be considered as a candidate to move to the next stage.

  2. If the suggested change has good support, you will be asked to create a formal RFC issue using the specific template.

  3. The RFC will be more closely reviewed and commented on or amended through a series of stages until it is either rejected or accepted.

  4. At that point, the proposal is merged to the appropriate version of the specification.

Questions are welcome on the process and at any time. Use the discussions feature or find us in [Slack].

RFC Champions⚓︎

Contributing to DPDS requires a lot of dedicated work. To set clear expectations and provide accountability, each proposed RFC (request for comments) must have a champion who is responsible for addressing feedback and completing next steps. An RFC may have multiple champions. DPDS Maintainers are not responsible for completing RFCs which lack a champion (though a DPDS Maintainer may be a champion for an RFC).

An RFC which does not have a champion may not progress through stages, and can become stale. Stale proposals may be picked up by a new champion or may be rejected.

A champion is anyone who leads the work on an RFC. It doesn't mean it has to be the only person working on it though. They are a "person of reference" for a given RFC implementation and may or may not know about JS, relying on the help of other community members to implement the RFC on the DPDS JSON Schema.

RFC Contribution Stages⚓︎

RFCs are guided by a champion through a series of stages: strawman, proposal, draft, and accepted (or rejected), each of which has suggested entrance criteria and next steps detailed below. RFCs typically advance one stage at a time, but may advance multiple stages at a time. Stage advancements occur on GitHub.

Every RFC must have a dedicated issue used to track its evolution through stages.

All RFCs start as either a strawman or proposal.

Stage 0: Strawman⚓︎

An RFC at the strawman stage captures a described problem or partially-considered solutions. A strawman does not need to meet any entrance criteria. A strawman's goal is to prove or disprove a problem and guide discussion towards either rejection or a preferred solution.

There is no entrance criteria for a Strawman

As implied by the name strawman, the goal at this stage is to knock it down (reject) by considering other possible related solutions, showing that the motivating problem can be solved with no change to the specification, or that it is not aligned with the guiding principles.

Once determined that the strawman is compelling, it should seek the entrance criteria for proposal.

Stage 1: Proposal⚓︎

An RFC at the proposal stage is a solution to a problem with enough fidelity to be discussed in detail. It must be backed by a willing champion. A proposal's goal is to make a compelling case for acceptance by describing both the problem and the solution via examples.

Entrance criteria:

  • Identified champion
  • Clear explanation of problem and solution
  • Illustrative examples
  • Incomplete spec edits in a feature branch linked with the issue
  • Identification of potential concerns, challenges, and drawbacks

A proposal is subject to the same discussion as a strawman: ensuring that it is well aligned with the guiding principles, is a problem worth solving, and is the preferred solution to that problem. A champion is not expected to have confidence in every detail at this stage and should instead focus on identifying and resolving issues and edge-cases.

Most proposals are expected to evolve or change and may be rejected. Therefore, it is unwise to rely on a proposal in a production environment. DPDS-compliant tools may implement proposals, though are encouraged to not enable the proposed feature without explicit opt-in.

Stage 2: Draft⚓︎

An RFC at the draft stage is a fully formed solution. There is consensus the problem identified should be solved, and this particular solution is preferred. A draft's goal is to precisely and completely describe the solution and resolve any concerns.

Entrance criteria:

  • Consensus on the solution is preferred
  • Resolution of identified concerns and challenges
  • Complete spec edits, including examples and prose in a feature branch linked with the issue
  • Compliant implementation in DPDS JSON Schema

A proposal becomes a draft when the set of problems or drawbacks have been fully considered and accepted or resolved, and the solution is deemed desirable. A draft's goal is to complete final spec edits that are ready to be merged.

Drafts may continue to evolve and change, occasionally dramatically, and are not guaranteed to be accepted. Therefore, it is unwise to rely on a draft in a production environment. DPDS-compliant tools should implement drafts to provide valuable feedback, though are encouraged not to enable the draft feature without explicit opt-in when possible.

Stage 3: Accepted⚓︎

An RFC at the accepted stage is a completed solution. It's the TSC that MUST accept or reject an RFC through a vote of its members.

Entrance criteria:

  • Consensus the solution is complete
  • Complete spec edits, including examples and prose
  • Compliant implementation in the DPDS JSON Schema (fully tested and merged or ready to merge)

A draft is accepted when the DPDS Maintainers have been convinced that it appropriately handles all edge cases; that the spec changes not only precisely describe the new syntax and semantics but include sufficient motivating prose and examples; and that the RFC includes edits to any other affected areas of the spec. Once accepted, its champion should encourage the adoption of the RFC by opening issues or pull requests on other popular DPDS-compliant tools.

An accepted RFC is merged into the DPDS's master branch by a DPDS Maintainer and will be included in the next released revision.

Stage X: Rejected⚓︎

An RFC may be rejected at any point and for any reason. It's the TSC that MUST accept or reject an RFC through a vote of its members.

Most rejections occur when a strawman is proven to be unnecessary, is misaligned with the guiding principles, or fails to meet the entrance criteria to become a proposal. A proposal may become rejected for similar reasons as well as if it fails to reach consensus or loses the confidence of its champion. Likewise a draft may encounter unforeseen issues during implementations which cause it to lose consensus or the confidence of its champion.

RFCs which have lost a champion will not be rejected immediately, but may become rejected if they fail to attract a new champion.

Once rejected, an RFC will typically not be reconsidered. Reconsideration is possible if a champion believes the original reason for rejection no longer applies due to new circumstances or new evidence.


While the governance of the specification is the role of the TSC, the evolution of the specification happens through the participation of members of the community at large. Any person willing to contribute to the effort is welcome, and contributions may include filing or participating in issues, creating pull requests, or helping others with such activities.

Releases management⚓︎

GitHub is the medium of record for all spec designs, use cases, and so on.

The human readable document is the source of truth. If using a JSON Schema again to document the spec, it is secondary to the human documentation. The documentation should live in a *.md file, in parallel to the latest document (versions/ for example).

At any given time, there would be at most 4 work branches. The branches would exist if work has started on them. Assuming a current version of 1.0.0:

  • main - Current stable version. No PRs would be accepted directly to modify the specification. PRs against supporting files can be accepted.

  • v1.0.1-dev - The next PATCH version of the specification. This would include non-breaking changes such as typo fixes, document fixes, and wording clarifications.

  • v1.1.0-dev - The next MINOR version.

  • v2.0.0-dev - The next MAJOR version.

The main branch shall remain the current, released DPDS. We will describe and link the work branch(es) on the default on the main branch.

Examples of how something is described currently vs. the proposed solution should accompany any change proposal.

New features should be done in feature branches/forks which, upon approval, are merged into the proper work branch.

An issue will be opened for each feature change.

Each feature branch must be linked with an issue.

A new version of DPDS is released by merging a work branch into the main branch.


This document was adapted from the GraphQL Specification Contribution Guide.