* WGs marked with an * asterisk has had at least one new draft made available during the last 5 days

Support Documents in IETF Working Groups

There is a class of documents that help guiding a working group to agree on the problem(s) and even converge on a solution. These support documents can include, for example, problem statements, use cases, and requirements.

While support documents are important for the operation of a working group and to drive progress, perfecting and publishing those documents can consume scarce community resources, which in the end can lead to delay for the solution work. There is no formal expectation that requires the development and publication as RFCs of support documents in sequence before starting the solution work: problem statement, use cases, requirements, and then finally architecture and protocol specifications, for instance.

In order to speed up the time period from idea to running code, the IESG supports working groups that commence solution work early in the working group timeline, and do not wait for completion and publication of the support documents. While the problem scope is well understood and agreed upon, focused charters on solutions work are extremely efficient.

While writing down such things as requirements and use cases help to get a common understanding (and often common language), support documentation doesn’t always have a high archival value. The IESG encourages the community to consider alternate mechanisms for publishing this content, such as on a working group wiki, in an informational appendix of a solution document, or simply as an expired draft. As regards to timing, it would be worthwhile to discuss the need to publish support documents early during the charter development process in order to set the right expectations and minimize surprises at a late stage. Therefore, working group charters may direct the working group to publish this content using alternate mechanisms, or may instruct the working group to consider the appropriate mechanism as work proceeds.