Subject Re: Comparison of eP(S)A values
From Keith Hazelton <hazelton@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date Tue, 22 Sep 2009 09:30:45 -0500

Andrew, Mikael:

In the spirit of your conclusion, unless there are driving real world use cases where the value "employee" becomes critical in an interfederation context, it's probably not worth spending precious cycles worrying our brains about it.

In general, MACE-Dir folks would like to know if there are real world or planned usage scenarios for each of the other values.

Finally, the trickier questions: Should the eP spec be revised to include something like your bolded definitions? If so, what is the process and who should be involved, who (or what organization) should issue it. If not, should your document be considered to "profile" eP for inter-federation scenarios?

I can imagine how painstaking the efforts were in pulling together that document, thank you. --Keith
On Sep 22, 2009, at 04:12, Andrew Cormack wrote:


[Could one of you forward this to MACE-DIR, if appropriate, since I'm
pretty sure it'll reject my attempt to post there?]

Many thanks for the feedback and for giving it time on the MACE-DIR
agenda. All suggestions, corrections and comments very welcome. I'm
planning on producing a final version of the paper after the Refeds
meeting in Rome on the 20-somethingth of October (that meeting should
also produce some slides to accompany the paper). Comments in-line

-----Original Message-----
From: Keith Hazelton [mailto:hazelton@xxxxxxxxxxxxx]
Sent: 21 September 2009 20:49
To: refeds@xxxxxxxxxx
Cc: Andrew Cormack; Mikael Linden; mace-dir
Subject: Re: [refeds] Comparison of eP(S)A values

We'll be talking over this usage comparison doc on today's MACE-Dir

Please consider the following an historical note:

The value "employee" was included in the controlled vocabulary for
eP*A since the first release of eduPerson (1.0, Feb., 2001).  I have
distinct memories (but no documents) that we included that
specifically to cover the UK case where teachers, researchers and
other workers are lumped under a single term.  "Employee" was
intended to serve as this single term.  Unfortunately this intended
usage was never made explicit in the eduPerson specification.
According to Andrew and Mikael's usage comparison, the UK term of
preference would be "staff" rather than "employee."

Indeed it seems we latched onto "staff" as having that meaning, whereas
everyone else followed the US in using that for "non-faculty-workers"
and either used "employee" more or less as intended or ignored the
category. Sigh, especially if the whole reason for creating it was to
meet the UK requirements :-(

I bring this up only because the proposed definition in the REFEDS
document is "staff" are "workers other than teachers or
researchers."  This would seem to go against UK Access Management
Federation usage.  Is this particular category of affiliation worth
further discussion?

Indeed it is the reverse of our current usage, but it seems to be what
everyone else uses it for, so I felt the document should go with the

I've suggested internally that we have a think about how much pain would be caused for UK federation IdPs if we were to ask them to swap over the
terms, and for SPs in coping with a period of transition where the
meanings of both "staff" and "employee" will depend on whether or not
the IdP concerned has switched. I'm hoping that not too many SPs have
decided to use that value in their authorisation decisions so that only
a few are affected and we can persuade them that it's not disastrous.

Overall I'm viewing "staff" as a problem that only requires us to change
to fix it, whereas the use of "employee" is much more varied so if we
want to standardise it then several federations will need to change
their current practice.

Best wishes


Andrew Cormack, Chief Regulatory Adviser
JANET(UK), Lumen House, Library Avenue, Harwell Science and Innovation
Campus, Didcot, OX11 0SG, UK
Phone: +44 (0) 1235 822302
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