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I am attending the BPM Think Tank in Burlingame this week, and there are many insightful presentations around emerging standards in the BPM space, such as BPDM, BPMM, BMM, BPMN 2.0 and OSRM. But one thing makes me wonder – with every revision, every iteration, the standard specifications grow in size. The new BPMM specification has a whopping 505 pages in draft version. A participant asked what the effect would be if the BPMN 2.0 specification, which combines BPMN and BPDM, would be a 1,000 page document. Nobody knows… I had a look at some older and newer specifications, and this is what I came up with:

Organization Standard

Original Version

Update

Year Version Pages Year Version Pages
IETF FTP

1980

1.0

70

 

 

 

IETF HTML

1995

1.0

60

 

 

 

IETF HTTP

1996

1.0

60

1999

1.1

176

W3C XML

2000

1.0

59

 

 

 

OMG UML

2000

1.3

1034

2005

2.0

710

OASIS BPSS

2001

1.01

136

 

 

 

W3C WSCL

2002

1.0

22

 

 

 

W3C WSDL

2002

1.2

30

 

 

 

OASIS BPEL

2003

1.1

136

2007

2.0 (draft)

276

W3C SOAP

2003

1.2

128

 

 

 

WfMC XPDL

2003

1.0

87

2005

2.0

164

There are some interesting observations to make:

  • Standard specifications seem to double between versions. The only exception is UML, which actually shrank 300 pages between versions 1.3 and 2.0
  • Some organizations produce shorter specifications than others. For example, IETF specifications seem to be rather concise, compared to OMG or OASIS specifications.

Now, counting pages is not a very exact metric to gauge the complexity of a specification, but it is safe to assume that a 300 page specification is significantly more complex than a 60 page specification. I brought this up at the Think Tank, and it was suggested that specs grow because the working groups add clarifications and explanations. But it is also possible that as the standard specs grow, the effort to implement them and to prove conformance with all aspects of a specification increases significantly. If that is the case, do bigger standards keep the industry from advancing?

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