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IEP-0: IEP Purpose and Guidelines#

IEP: 0000
Title: IEP Purpose and Guidelines
Author: Titusz Pan
Status: Draft
Type: Process
License: BSD-2-Clause
Created: 2022-08-28
Updated: 2022-09-23

1. What is an IEP?#

An ISCC Enhancement Proposal (IEP) is a design document providing information to the ISCC community, or describing a new feature for the ISCC or its processes or environment. An IEP should provide a concise technical specification of a feature and a rationale for the feature. IEPs have no special status except that accorded by the community.

IEPs are a mechanism for proposing new features, for collecting community input on an issue, and for documenting design decisions. The IEP author is responsible for building consensus within the community and documenting dissenting opinions.

Because the IEPs are maintained as text files in a versioned repository, their revision history is the historical record of the feature proposal.

2. IEP audience#

The typical primary audience for IEPs are the developers of ISCC implementations.

However, other parts of the ISCC community may also choose to use the process (particularly for Informational IEPs) to document expected API conventions and to manage complex design coordination problems that require collaboration across multiple projects.

3. IEP workflow#

The IEP process begins with a new idea for the ISCC. Each potential IEP must have a champion - someone who writes the IEP using the style and format described below, shepherds the discussions in the appropriate forums, and attempts to build community consensus around the idea.

Small enhancements or patches to a particular piece of software often don't require coordination between multiple projects or implementations; these don't need an IEP and should be injected into the relevant project-specific development workflow with a patch submission to the applicable issue tracker.

After investigating past work, the best way to proceed is by opening issue for discussion about the new idea. Following a discussion, the proposal should be submitted to the IEPs git repository as a pull request. This draft must be written in IEP style as described below, and named with an alias such as "iep-johndoe-new-semantic-id" until an editor has assigned it an IEP number (authors MUST NOT self-assign IEP numbers).

When the IEP draft is complete, an IEP editor will assign the IEP a number, label it as Core, Informational, or Process, and merge the pull request to the IEPs git repository. The IEP editors will not unreasonably reject an IEP. Reasons for rejecting IEPs include duplication of effort, disregard for formatting rules, being too unfocused or too broad, being technically unsound, not providing proper motivation or addressing backwards compatibility. For an IEP to be accepted it must meet certain minimum criteria. It must be a clear and complete description of the proposed enhancement. The enhancement must represent a net improvement. The proposed implementation, if applicable, must be solid and must not complicate the protocol unduly.

The IEP author may update the draft as necessary in the git repository. Updates to drafts should also be submitted by the author as pull requests.

3.1 Transferring IEP ownership#

It occasionally becomes necessary to transfer ownership of IEPs to a new champion. A good reason to transfer ownership is because the original author no longer has the time or interest in updating it or following through with the IEP process, or is unreachable or not responding to email.

If you are interested in assuming ownership of an IEP, send a message asking to take over, addressed to both the original author and the IEP editors. If the original author doesn't respond to email in a timely manner, the IEP editors will make a unilateral decision.

3.2 IEP editors#

The current IEP editors are:

3.3 IEP editor responsibilities#

The IEP editors subscribe to the IEP issue tracker. Correspondence outside the issue tracker should be sent (or CC'd) to the IEP editors.

For each new IEP that comes in an editor does the following:

  • Read the IEP to check if it is ready: sound and complete. The ideas must make technical sense.

  • The title should accurately describe the content.

  • Motivation and backward compatibility (when applicable) must be addressed.

  • Licensing terms must be acceptable for IEPs.

  • If the IEP isn't ready, the editor will send it back to the author for revision, with specific instructions.

  • Once the IEP is ready for the repository it should be submitted as a "pull request" to the IEPs git repository where it may get further feedback.

The IEP editor will:

  • Assign an IEP number in the pull request.
  • Merge the pull request when it is ready.
  • List the IEP in

The IEP editors are intended to fulfill administrative and editorial responsibilities. The IEP editors monitor IEP changes, and update IEP headers as appropriate.

4. IEP format and structure#

IEPs should be written in Markdown format.

Each IEP should have the following parts:

  • Preamble - Headers containing metadata about the IEP (see below).
  • Abstract - A short (~200 word) description of the issue being addressed.
  • Motivation - A motivation section is critical for IEPs that want to change pre-existing specifications. It should clearly explain why the existing specification is inadequate to address the problem that the IEP solves. This section may be omitted if the motivation is evident.
  • Specification - The specification should describe the syntax and semantics of any new feature. The specification should be detailed enough to allow competing, interoperable implementations.
  • Rationale - The rationale fleshes out the specification by describing what motivated the design and why particular design decisions were made. It should describe alternate designs that were considered and related work. The rationale should provide evidence of consensus within the community and discuss important objections or concerns raised during discussion around the IEP.
  • Backwards compatibility - All IEPs that introduce backwards incompatibilities must include a section describing these incompatibilities and their severity. The IEP must explain how the author proposes to deal with these incompatibilities.
  • Reference implementation - A reference implementation must be completed before a Core IEP is given status Stable, but it need not be completed before the IEP is accepted. The stable implementation must include test code and documentation.
  • Copyright - The IEP must be explicitly licensed under acceptable copyright terms see below.

4.1 IEP header preamble#

Each IEP must begin with a header preamble. The headers must appear in the following order. Headers marked with "*" are optional and are described below. All other headers are required.

  IEP: <IEP number, or "?" before being assigned>
  Title: <IEP title; maximum 44 characters>
  Author: <list of authors' names and email addresses>
  Comments: <link to issue page for comments>
  Status: <Draft | Deferred | Withdrawn | Proposed | Rejected | Stable | Obsolete>
  Type: <Core | Informational | Process>
  License: <abbreviation for approved license(s)>
  Created: <date created on, in ISO 8601 (yyyy-mm-dd) format>
  Updated: <date updated on, in ISO 8601 (yyyy-mm-dd) format>
* Replaces: <IEP number>
* Superseded-By: <IEP number>

The Author header lists the names and email addresses of all the authors/owners of the IEP. The format of the Author header value must be

Random J. User <address@dom.ain>

If there are multiple authors, each should be on a separate line.

The Type header specifies the type of IEP: Core, Informational, or Process.

The Created header records the date that the IEP was assigned a number. Dates should be in yyyy-mm-dd format, e.g. 2001-08-14.

IEPs may have a Superseded-By header indicating that an IEP has been rendered obsolete by a later document; the value is the number of the IEP that replaces the current document. The newer IEP must have a Replaces header containing the number of the IEP that it rendered obsolete.

5. IEP Types#

There are three kinds of IEPs:

  • A Core IEP describes any change that affects most or all ISCC implementations, such as a change to the algorithms for creating ISCCs, or any change or addition that affects the interoperability of applications using the ISCC. Core IEPs consist of two parts, a design document and a reference implementation.
  • An Informational IEP describes an ISCC design issue, or provides general guidelines or information to the ISCC community, but does not propose a new feature. Informational IEPs do not necessarily represent a ISCC community consensus or recommendation, so users and implementors are free to ignore Informational IEPs or follow their advice.
  • A Process IEP describes a process surrounding ISCC, or proposes a change to (or an event in) a process. Process IEPs are like Core IEPs but apply to areas other than the ISCC algorithms itself. Examples include procedures, guidelines, changes to the decision-making process, and changes to the tools or environment used in ISCC development.

6. IEP status#

The typical paths of the status of IEPs are as follows:

flowchart LR
    B --> C[Poposed]
    B <--> D[Deferred]
    B <--> E[Withdrawn]
    C --> F[Stable]
    C --> G[Rejected]
    F --> H[Obsolete]

Champions of an IEP may decide on their own to change the status between Draft, Deferred, or Withdrawn. An IEP editor may also change the status to Deferred when no progress is being made on the IEP.

An IEP may only change status from Draft to Proposed, when the author deems it is complete, has a working implementation (where applicable), and has community plans to progress it to the Stable status.

IEPs should be changed from Draft or Proposed status, to Rejected status, upon request by any person, if they have not made progress in three years. Such an IEP may be changed to Draft status if the champion provides revisions that meaningfully address public criticism of the proposal, or to Proposed status if it meets the criteria required as described in the previous paragraph.

An IEP may change status from Draft to Stable when it achieves rough consensus on the issue tracker and sufficient real-world adoption. Such a proposal is said to have rough consensus if it has been open to discussion on the issue tracker for at least one month, and no person maintains any unaddressed substantiated objections to it. Addressed or obstructive objections may be ignored/overruled by general agreement that they have been sufficiently addressed, but clear reasoning must be given in such circumstances.

Software authors are encouraged to publish summaries of what IEPs their software supports to aid in verification of status changes.

Should an IEP become actually and unambiguously adopted despite not meeting the criteria outlined here, it should still be updated to Stable status.

When a Stable IEP is no longer relevant, its status may be changed to Obsolete. This change must also be objectively verifiable and/or discussed.

7. IEP licensing#

New IEPs may be accepted with the following licenses. Each new IEP must identify at least one acceptable license in its preamble. The License header in the preamble must be placed befor the Created header. Each license must be referenced by their respective abbreviation given below.

IEPs are not required to be exclusively licensed under approved terms, and may also be licensed under unacceptable licenses in addition to at least one acceptable license. In this case, only the acceptable license(s) should be listed in the License header.

7.1 Acceptable licenses#

8. History#

This document was derived heavily from Bitcoin’s BIP-0002 which in turn was derived from Python’s PEP-0001. In many places text was simply copied and modified. The original authors of BIP-0002 and PEP-0001 are not responsible for its use in the ISCC Enhancement Proposals, and should not be bothered with technical questions specific to ISCC or the IEPs.

Last update: 2022-09-23
Created: 2022-08-28