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What Is This Thing Called Conformance?



Lynne S. Rosenthal, Mary C. Brady


XML developers claim they do it. OASIS, NIST, and W3C are building it. And, standards often require it. What is it?Conformance is usually defined as a way to determine if an implementation faithfully meets the requirements of a standard or specification. There are many types of testing including testing for performance, robustness, behavior, functions and interoperability. Although conformance testing may include some of these kinds of tests, it has one fundamental difference -- the requirements or criteria for conformance must be specified in the standard or specification. Conformance testing is meant to provide the software developers and users of conforming products some assurance or confidence that the product behaves as expected, performs functions in a known manner, or has an interface or format that is known. Determining whether a product faithfully implements the W3C Recommendations will be essential to creating robust, interoperable solutions.In this session we will present an overview of conformance including what it is, how it works, and what are the benefits. Following the general conformance discussion will be specific examples from available conformance test suites including, XML, DOM, and XSLT. In addition, we will discuss particular problems that we have uncovered as a result of developing the tests, and give an indication of how various implementations fare against the available test suites.
Proceedings Title
Proceedings of the XML 2000 Conference
Conference Dates
December 3-8, 2000
Conference Title
SGML/XML Conference


conformance, conformance testing, DOM test suite, validation, XML test suite, XSL test suite


Rosenthal, L. and Brady, M. (2000), What Is This Thing Called Conformance?, Proceedings of the XML 2000 Conference (Accessed April 16, 2024)
Created December 1, 2000, Updated February 17, 2017