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nfoWorks: IS 29500 (OOXML) Moving Ahead?

OOXML Struggling Over the Last ISO Hurdle?

Thanks to early word from Jerry Fishenden in the UK, we learn of today's press release in Geneva: The appeals to acceptance of DIS 29500 (Office Open XML Formats) are not sustained and preparation for publication of IS 29500 will proceed.  There is one caveat, and that is the prospect of an appeal over the appeal resolution. 

Meanwhile, DIS 29500 is now listed as deleted on the ISO site and we continue to wait for release of the IS 29500 documents to the public.

It is difficult to be excited about any of this absent availability of a specification to dig into.  The maintenance process needs to get going and it would be really great if this situation were completely resolved, with publication of the edited IS 29500 specification, before the late-September ISO/IEC JTC1 SC34 meeting in Korea.  The wheels of JTC1 turn slowly, with the best avenue for public input being the ECMA TC45 committee, where the gears also turn slowly and mostly invisibly.  There needs to be greater transparency and public engagement, something that the federation system that funnels down into JTC1 SC34 does not support.

ODF as the RĂ´le Model

The situation for ISO/IEC IS 26300 (Open Document Format 1.0) is not particularly different, simply less encumbered at this point.  Maintenance is at the OASIS Office Document TC.   It seems unlikely that substantial work on ODF specifications will move elsewhere, given that this is where actual work is being done, unencumbered by multi-national hierarchic process and governance structures.

There are significant differences in transparency of OASIS maintenance in contrast with ECMA's record so far.  There is a publicly-usable and visible comment list for submissions and public archives of the committee list and working documents, including a wiki that provides access to all proposals for the under-development ODF 1.2 specification.  There is also an open discussion list for the proposal of an ODF Interoperability and Conformance TC.  The public notice and review of that TC's chartering is expected soon. 

Having joined OASIS as an individual, I expect to gain some very useful practice in anticipation of similar provisions for OOXML.  In many ways, the division of my attention is going to be governed by where there is the least friction in the way of open discussion, non-duplication of effort (through knowing what comments there already are and knowing the views of others), and ability to review and make proposals.  It will be unfortunate if the only open-to-the-public forum is a shadow created outside of any official OOXML maintenance bodies.

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