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Practical Guide to the Open Brand
Copyright © January 1998 The Open Group

Product Standards


A Product Standard is a precisely defined and documented set of functionality to which products can be registered as conformant under the Open Brand Program.

Each Product Standard describes its purpose, gives detailed technical conformance requirements, and identifies specific testing requirements that must be satisfactorily completed. Where appropriate it may also highlight important information that has to be included in the Conformance Statement (see Conformance Statements).

Most of the detailed requirements for conformance to Product Standards are usually identified by reference to other documents rather than being defined in the Product Standard itself. All such references are precisely stated such that the referenced documents are clearly and uniquely identified (title, version number, date, and so on). Conformance is to a specific version of an identified document and a Product Standard is not automatically updated by virtue of a newer version of the document (specification or standard) being released. Where conformance is only to specific parts of a document, the relevant parts are clearly identified. The relationship between the various documents is shown in the following figure:

Figure 2 Relationships between Documents

The current set of Product Standards is listed on The Open Group web site at, where links to the full text of each Product Standard can be found.

Key Concepts

Product Standards are central to the Open Brand Program. They are the single reference points linking the referenced specifications and standards, any other Product Standards, and the test suites and other conformance requirements. The Conformance Statement for each Registered Product states precisely how the product satisfies the requirements of the Product Standard.

Registered Products are dependent upon services typically provided by the operating system software and hardware. In some cases a Registered Product may be completely independent of any operating system, but may require some other kind of service such as a communication service. The Product Standard therefore states these dependencies and specifies the Operational Environment within which the Registered Product runs.

Portability is associated with the ease with which a system, application, data, or user can be transferred from one environment to another.

Software applications may rely on Application Program Interfaces (APIs) provided by the Registered Product. These Portability Interfaces provide one level of portability, allowing for the same software application to work with different products registered to the same Product Standard.

Software applications that use the defined Portability Interfaces often require direct access to services other than those provided by the Registered Product. The Portability Environment defined in the Product Standard establishes the overall environment required for software portability.

The relationship between the Operational Environment required for the Registered Product, the Portability Interface provided by the Registered Product, and the Portability Environment required by the (application) software are shown in the following figure:

Figure 3 Environments and Interfaces

Interoperability, in its fullest sense, means the ability of application processes meaningfully to exchange information and services regardless of physical location, network topology, and the vagaries of computer architectures.

In the context of the Open Brand Program, the concept means the provision of services and protocols that support the interoperability of applications to the extent defined by the Product Standard. End-to-end interoperability invariably requires correct configuration of the end systems and all other network elements.

The Open Group's Interoperability Assurance Program, associated with the Indicators of Compliance for interoperability (see the description of Indicators of Compliance below), provides a mechanism for the resolution of interoperability issues encountered in the field. Any requirements from the Interoperability Assurance Program are defined in the Indicators of Compliance section of the Product Standard and described in the Conformance Statement for the Registered Product.


Each Product Standard is defined under a set of headings. However, readers should note that the structure of the Product Standard might vary with additional or alternative headings used as necessary. The usual headings are given below:

Attributes Associated with Conformance Requirements

To conform to a Product Standard, a product (or product configuration) must conform to all of the attributes that are defined for that Product Standard. Some of the key attributes include:

Note that a Product Standard may refer to a subset of the key attributes as appropriate.

The following paragraphs explain what it means for a product (or product configuration) to conform to each attribute of a Product Standard. The first statement associated with each attribute identifies its purpose, and the second how it is achieved.

In cases where one of these attributes is not relevant, or not specified, the Product Standard explicitly says so using a phrase such as "not applicable" or "none" where appropriate.

All conformance requirements must involve a stimulus and result. The same stimulus must produce the same well-defined result on all conformant systems. For APIs this is explicitly the case, as the definition of an API call states what the result of calling it will be, but for the other aspects too it is important that there are clearly defined causes and effects. It is not sufficient, for example, for a Product Standard just to require that a particular protocol be supported. It must be set into a cause and effect context-use of the protocol must be associated with specific well-defined functionality and behavior within the product.

Detailed conformance requirements are expressed by any combination of:

The Open Group Standards Information Base is the formal repository for specifications and Standards that have been adopted by The Open Group. The Standards Information Base is available on The Open Group web site at

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