IMS produces standards they want everyone to use.

Why, then, do I have to log in to their site in order to VIEW the documentation for their standards?

Situation: I found a link to a PDF on their site. When I clicked it, I was presented with this warm greeting [link no longer available]:

The page you are trying to access is reserved for participants in the IMS GLC Public Community or is reserved for IMS GLC Members, Affiliates or Alliance Members.

If you have already set up an account and just need to login, please do so here. If you would like to register for a free public community account, just head on over to our registration page.

So… in order for me to even read their standards, I have to tell them who I am and put my personal information in their database? How does this foster adoption of standards?

Geez these guys burn my britches…

UPDATE: The IMS site requires the following information before you can view any of their documentation: Name, email, organization name, job title, job description, country. Pretty invasive if you ask me.

UPDATE #2: After registering for site access, I was greeted with a second page asking for persona information, and asking me to agree to IMS’s licensing terms. They require the following information: Name, email, “entity on whose behalf you are accepting this agreement”, street address (includes city, zip, country), phone number

(Phone number? Seriously?)

The license terms are FIVE PAGES long after pasting into a Word file.

Interesting bits (emphasis mine):

IMS specifications are published solely for the purpose of enabling interoperability among learning products and services used by the education and training communities served by IMS members and are made available under license to Registered Users solely to further that purpose.

I guess this means the standards aren’t meant for public consumption after all, though the end result of the standards are?

Users of the Specification(s) are encouraged to engage directly with IMS as IMS members, including registration of all applications of specifications, in order to enhance the level of interoperability in the education and training industries worldwide.

I read this as: tell us who you are and how you’re using IMS specifications so we can include you in our next press release (you know, the part where we pat ourselves on the back).

Any use of the Specifications(s) or other Materials provided by IMS must be accompanied by the copyright legends provided with full attribution given to IMS.

If this were the case with the HTML, ECMAScript, or XML standards, our documents would be bloated with useless attribution credits. (Side note: I wonder how this affects SCORM, as SCORM uses IMS specifications for packaging? Is anyone who produces a SCORM-based course supposed to pay respect to the Don provide attribution to IMS in their courseware?)

Licensee agrees to publicly and visibly acknowledge and attribute to IMS the Specification(s) upon which products are based to any and all Development Partner(s).

So if Company X uses an IMS specification, they’re supposed to go over to each “Development Partner” — many of whom may be commercial competitors — and let them know?

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  1. Sing it.

    This is exactly my experience of the IMS – i.e. very, very poor. I could not get any info about the whizz-bang new Common Cartridge specs without signing up and handing over a bunch of money.

    So I didn’t use it.

    I think the missing step here is philosophical – there’s no philosophical commitment to open standards, and it shows.

    It’s easy to dismiss philosophy as airy-fairy and optional, but as your experience shows, things get pretty nasty if you take it away. Further, standards without philosophy is like aiming a gun straight at your foot – you are basically guaranteeing that the standards won’t get used and all your work will become obsolete.

    I think the IMS signed it’s own death warrant years ago. What worries me is that, in so doing, they are forcing instructional designers to use alternate standards that don’t work with the requirements of education and training – by driving us away, they are also driving us toward inappropriate tools, which undermines the longevity of the work that *is* done using their standards.

    Here’s hoping a solid alternative to the IMS gets up and running soon.

    1. @mike
      thanks for the link. the documents that spurred my post were actually QTI specs.

      you’ve made me go back and re-examine how i got to all those login screens, and i’ve realized that there’s an odd inconsistency on the IMS site. it appears many XSD and DTD files are available to view online, and some specs have HTML-based documentation that can be viewed without a login.

      but from what i can tell, any downloadable documentation (especially PDFs and examples in ZIP files) require visiting the download page. thing is, you can’t visit the download page without a login. then, once you’re logged in and have access to the download page, you’re prompted to give even more personal information for every single download. legally, you’re signing a contract every time you download a file. plus, it states that if you provide false or misleading personal information, your right to use the spec can be revoked.

      why would IMS’s desire to know my phone number and job title have any bearing on my rights to use what they’re calling a standard? why doesn’t IMS simply let people access the files without a login? it feels incredibly overbearing and big brother-ish to me.

  2. Although my company is an IMS member, I agree with a lot of what you say. The organization does seem to engage in a lot of patting itself on the back.

    Regarding your comment about the common cartridge spec documentation, the IMS policy is that access to all documentation is reserved to member organizations (i.e., those who pay IMS) until the spec is finished and released to the public. The idea is that if you want to implement an IMS spec in your product, you either pay for advance access (and the opportunity to steer development) or wait until the spec is final.

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