[aprssig] APRS specification document format and copyright

Heikki Hannikainen hessu at hes.iki.fi
Mon Feb 14 14:48:29 EST 2022

On Mon, 14 Feb 2022, Georg Lukas wrote:

> For collaborative work, it would be great to get the specification into
> a modern lightweight markup text format like Markdown or RST
> <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ReStructuredText>.

Yes, +1 to that from here! One of those would be great for collaborative 
editing in git. That's the way open source projects are documented these 

The M17 project uses RST as the source format, the source code for the 
specifications lives on github (https://github.com/M17-Project/M17_spec) 
and it is automatically published as HTML at 
https://m17-project.github.io/M17_spec/ . PDF output is also available. 
Many open source projects use the free readthedocs.org service to publish 
documents, like this: https://kafka-python.readthedocs.io/en/latest/ but 
the M17 project runs Sphinx on github to do the conversion, and just use 
github.io as the web service hosting it.

LateX may be the classic and well-established standard for scientific 
writing, but RST and Markdown are the lightweight and easier-to-learn 
things done today in the open source world. They're more familiar to the 
younger breed of programmers.

> It looks like the APRSWG actually has a set of formal rules, and that
> new members can be accepted into it:
> http://www.ui-view.net/files/APRSWG_charter.pdf
> So it's probably possible to vote new members into the WG and retain it
> as the owner of the APRS spec.

Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU, who was the secretary, is still active in the TAPR 
things.  I guess he might still be the secretary.  I suppose that in any 
case the APRSWG would have to gather up and have a meeting, and do one of 
the following:

1. Vote new members in, activate the WG again, and do the APRS spec work 
within the WG (contributions from outside could still be taken in)

2. Just assign the copyright of the document to a new group which then 
takes care of it

3. Relicense the document under a suitable Open Source license, such as 
CC BY-SA, so that other people outside the APRSWG, within a new APRS 
organisation or outside of it, can edit and republish the document.

I'd personally hope for 3, as it would have the least administrative 
overhead, and the most flexibility, as new contributions could be simply 
taken in on github (with a little review), in a parallel and distribution 
fashion. It'd be the most open and least restrictive path, and reduce the 
risk of having this sort of discussion again.

> As expected, the original text is all there, but most of the markup is
> misguided and will require significant manual cleanup efforts.

That's already a great starting point! It's already quite readable, and 
it would be relatively straightforward, although a little monotonic and 
time-consuming, to fix it up from there.

   - Hessu

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