How to Build a Successful Standard

Nov 1, 2009  |  Michael Wurzer

Here are some tips from Adam Bosworth (who worked on ODBC, XML, etc.) on how to build a successful standard:

1.  Keep the standard as simple and stupid as possible.

2.  The data being exchanged should be human readable and easy to understand.

3.  Standards work best when they are focused.

4.  Standards should have precise encodings.

5.  Always have real implementations that are actually being used as part of design of any standard.

6.  Put in hysteresis for the unexpected.

7.  Make the spec itself free, public on the web, and include lots of simple examples on the web site.

To all those involved in trying to create RETS data (not transport) standards, how many of these have we followed?

(h/t Joel Spolsky)

4 Responses to “How to Build a Successful Standard”

  1. The same could be said for MISMO as well.

  2. Danny Loftin says:

    Mike,
    Is there currently, or will there ever be a real estate data standard that is free and can be used without any licensing requirements. Or would it be too expensive for someone to develop one. How much could it cost someone to do this? In your FlexMLS system, what do you call your data standard, or are you using RETS? Would you be willing to share your standard with anyone without strings? How many strings are attached to using the RETS standard?

  3. mwurzer says:

    Danny, we do support RETS and there are no (or few) strings attached to using it as it is an open standard, but I think you might be talking about the data itself as opposed to a data standard. To get access to the data, you do need permission of the local MLS.

  4. Danny Loftin says:

    Thanks Mike. I was actually talking about the data standard and not the data itself. It looked to me as if there was some sort of licensing requirement to use RETS. Maybe nothing more than using the term RETS is protected? Is there anything that would keep, say, a FSBO website from using RETS? Does RETS extend through all types of listings? (Commercial, Industrial, Land, etc…) It seems to make perfect sense to implement this standard throughout all MLS’s, but will it ever happen? Is there really any upside to the MLS after the additional cost and the fact that it could just lessen their market share of their respective regional market through reciprocity?