proposal: remove "Google" from the name of GTFS

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proposal: remove "Google" from the name of GTFS Joe Hughes 10/19/09 8:48 AM
Summary:
Rename the "Google Transit Feed Specification" to the "General Transit
Feed Specification" to remove the increasingly misleading "Google"
name.

Motivation:
When Google first worked with early transit partners to create the
original GTFS spec, we gave the document the descriptive title "Google
Transit Feed Specification", since it was simply the feed
specification consumed by Google Transit.

In the years since then, many more applications have started consuming
data in this format, and many transit agencies have begun using GTFS
to share their routes and schedules with all application developers,
not just Google.  There are many feeds on sites like
gtfs-data-exchange.com that were never intended for consumption by
Google Maps.

It's time to bring the name in line with the current state of affairs.

Given the wide use of the format, and the community process that this
group uses to develop new extensions to the format, the "Google" in
GTFS is increasingly a misnomer, one that makes some potential users
shy away from adopting GTFS.  A data format becomes useful as more
people use it, so if there are simple things that we can do to make
GTFS more appealing to potential users, we should do them.

In the past, some of you have suggested changing the name to the "Open
Transit Feed Specification", but it seems like a waste to switch from
one cryptic acronym that's at least somewhat widely used to a
different one ("OTFS") with no searchable history.  On the other hand,
I've been through enough tech naming discussions to know that getting
consensus on a truly good, catchy name is almost always a long and
involved process.

In light of this, I propose that we take the near-term step of
replacing the "G" in "GTFS" with "General", as we continue to work
towards the longer-term goal of a more self-sufficient community
process.

Proposal:
I propose that we rename the feed specification to be the "General
Transit Feed Specification".  This preserves searchable acronym "GTFS"
in the near term, while making it clearer that the format is used by
many more organizations than just Google Maps.

In addition, I propose that we remove the "Submitting a Transit Feed
to Google" section from the spec document, and remove or replace the
example images that illustrate how different data elements appear in
Google Maps.

Thoughts?

Joe Hughes
Google

Re: [gtfs-changes] proposal: remove "Google" from the name of GTFS Martin A 10/19/09 9:58 AM
Hi Joe,

I am surprised Google wants to remove their name from arguably the
most successful data spec to ever hit transit.

The GTFS represents a usable subset used for schedule and calendar
display in a Google maps environment. "General" implies parts of
transit operations that GTFS currently can't represent. It's very big
of Google to allow this change to happen. Maybe "Geospatial" is more
fitting?


-Martin A.
RE: [gtfs-changes] proposal: remove "Google" from the name of GTFS jrw 10/19/09 11:16 AM
See below.

J. R.
J.R.> I like just making it GTFS. If we find a name that makes a cute word
we can revisit this then. Maybe we could rewrite the introductory section at
the top of the document to indicate that this is a general specification to
be used for producing a Transit Feed in a Portable and Open manner.

In addition, I propose that we remove the "Submitting a Transit Feed
to Google" section from the spec document, and remove or replace the
example images that illustrate how different data elements appear in
Google Maps.
J.R.> I guess I'm pretty bad. What I'm doing didn't require knowing about
its representation on a Google Map so I didn't read this part. Removing it
shouldn't cause any harm.

Thoughts?

Joe Hughes
Google


Re: [gtfs-changes] proposal: remove "Google" from the name of GTFS Jehiah 10/19/09 8:33 PM
On Mon, Oct 19, 2009 at 11:48 AM, Joe Hughes <joe.hug...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> Summary:
> Rename the "Google Transit Feed Specification" to the "General Transit
> Feed Specification" to remove the increasingly misleading "Google"
> name.
>
> In the past, some of you have suggested changing the name to the "Open
> Transit Feed Specification", but it seems like a waste to switch from
> one cryptic acronym that's at least somewhat widely used to a
> different one ("OTFS") with no searchable history.  On the other hand,
> I've been through enough tech naming discussions to know that getting
> consensus on a truly good, catchy name is almost always a long and
> involved process.
>
> In light of this, I propose that we take the near-term step of
> replacing the "G" in "GTFS" with "General", as we continue to work
> towards the longer-term goal of a more self-sufficient community
> process.
>

+1 good idea

I generally find myself describing GTFS as "an open standard data
format for transit schedules".

> Proposal:
> I propose that we rename the feed specification to be the "General
> Transit Feed Specification".  This preserves searchable acronym "GTFS"
> in the near term, while making it clearer that the format is used by
> many more organizations than just Google Maps.
>

I think s/Google/General/ is fine, I also think (as J.R. mentiond)
that dropping the full meaning behind the acronym would be ok as well.
You make a good point though that it is quite important to keep it
called GTFS for searchability (and because i'm generally lazy when
possible and i don't want to change things that refer to GTFS =).

> In addition, I propose that we remove the "Submitting a Transit Feed
> to Google" section from the spec document,

I think we need to cultivate a more official/comprehensive place to
find what applications/websites/services consume gtfs data before this
is removed. (gtfs-data-exchange.com covers the list of GTFS publishers
pretty well, we need something similar for consumers)

> and remove or replace the
> example images that illustrate how different data elements appear in
> Google Maps.
>

I think the google maps examples serve some purpose, but perhaphs they
could be mixed with examples of data being used/displayed on other
websites, and moved to their own 'example uses' document. This could
also be implemented as part of a list of gtfs-consumers where some
also have screenshots of usage.

--
Jehiah

Re: proposal: remove "Google" from the name of GTFS Tom Hixson 10/20/09 10:12 AM
First, if you pay the vet bill you get to name the dog, so Google is
welcome to name the spec how they want.  But I always thought of the G
as referring to the spec's sponsor, not its consumer, and it never
occurred to me to be limiting.  I agree with Martin that the spec is
not yet broad enough to be called 'general', but I would accept the
name as a goal.  The trouble with keeping it G is we old-timers will
likely keep calling it Google, which may cause confusion for newbies.
-Tom
RE: [gtfs-changes] Re: proposal: remove "Google" from the name of GTFS jrw 10/20/09 10:50 PM
True. But, even us old dogs eventually learn new tricks. :)

J. R.

-----Original Message-----
From: gtfs-c...@googlegroups.com [mailto:gtfs-c...@googlegroups.com]
On Behalf Of Tom Hixson
Sent: Tuesday, October 20, 2009 11:13 AM
To: Google Transit Feed Spec Changes
Re: proposal: remove "Google" from the name of GTFS Sean 10/21/09 1:05 PM
I agree that replacing the "Google" from the GTFS title would increase
the use of the specification and decrease confusion surrounding it.

We've been advocating the use of GTFS as the import format for our
Travel Assistance Device  (TAD) cell phone transit nav. app system,
and one of the most common questions we get when presenting to transit
agencies is how TAD's use of GTFS relates to Google Transit.  There
seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding the distinction of the
"Google Transit" website and the GTFS format, especially among non-
developers or new developers.  People often assume that our
application depends on the Google Transit website to operate, or that
Google is the one creating/hosting the actual transit data, and don't
understand that they can use the GTFS format without necessarily being
involved in Google Transit.  I believe that removing/replacing the
"Google" name from GTFS would help resolve this confusion and clearly
separate the open data format specification from the online service
provided by Google.  I agree that sticking with a "G" word to replace
"Google" would result in the minimum amount of confusion going
forward.  "General" does seem somewhat broad given the current scope
of the specification, but, then again, I think its fitting given that
"useful" generality is the goal of an open specification such as GTFS.

I agree with Jehiah's suggestion of showcasing the use of GTFS data in
different systems in the example images, as I think it really helps to
have visual indicators of how the actual data is used to help new
users understand the specification.  This could also help broaden the
scope of ideas for future GTFS developers who would see many examples
instead of seeing only the one Google Transit example.

Sean Barbeau
CUTR @ USF
Re: [gtfs-changes] proposal: remove "Google" from the name of GTFS Brian Ferris 10/21/09 1:40 PM
I think the switch from Google to General sounds fine.

I have a bigger question about governance of the GTFS spec.  I think Google has done a commendable job of encouraging and incorporating changes to the spec, but I wonder if a more official or open mechanism for incorporating changes and extensions might not further encourage adoption?  I'm not entirely sure what that mechanism should look like, as there are probably ten bad governance structures for every good one.  However, if the switch from Google to general is all about the Google in the name, the fact that the spec is hosted and ultimately still defined by Google will probably give similar pause.

Brian
Re: [gtfs-changes] Re: proposal: remove "Google" from the name of GTFS Joe Hughes 10/21/09 3:10 PM
Brian,

Thanks for the feedback.  You're absolutely right that this is just
one more step towards the goal of the community taking complete
ownership of ongoing spec development.  In that spirit, would you be
willing to lead a new thread on the governance question?

As it stands, all the relevant discussion about future improvements to
the spec already happens on this list, and while Google does lend a
tech writer to polish up the final product, the draft of each update
is now posted here for group's approval before going live.  As a
reminder, here's a summary of the existing process for changing the
spec:
http://groups.google.com/group/gtfs-changes/msg/f16e303d32fc95c8

However, there is plenty of room for improvement, and I look forward
to hearing people's ideas on how future evolution of the the spec
should be organized.  (Let's keep it in a new thread to not derail the
name change discussion.)

Thanks,
Joe Hughes
Google