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2008-04-11

OOXML+ODF: ISO Steps In

Clippings from the nfoWorks Diary on recent events of possible wider interest to standards geeks and armchair torch followers:

2008-04-09 ISO/IEC SC34 Takes Over OOXML
ISO/IEC Joint Technical Committee 1 (JTC1) Subcommittee 34 (SC34) held a plenary meeting in Oslo, Norway on April 5-9.  Alex Brown provides a comprehensive report.
   SC34 proposes to create ongoing activities to carry out its responsibilities:
        1. IS 29500 (OOXML) maintenance
        2. IS 26300 (ODF) maintenance (pending OASIS agreement)
        3. Harmonization (with a proposed work-item expected from the DIN NIA activity)
   To start things off, two ad hoc working groups have been created. 
   The first ad hoc working group will propose how IS 29500 maintenance should proceed, producing a proposal by 2008-09-01, one month prior to the next SC34 meeting.  This ad hoc group is chaired by Alex Brown who will lead a two-day meeting in London this July.  Participation is from SC34 member bodies and I take it that ECMA TC45 members are invited to chime in.
   The second ad hoc working group is being created to capture technical comments on IS 29500 and make sure existing analysis is not lost.  Within 90 days (by July 2) there will be a mechanism in operation "to compile a list of comments on ISO/IEC 29500 received from NBs, liaisons, and the general public" and then to "publish the on-going list as an open document on the SC 34 website."
   In the resolutions from the meeting, I note that the final text of DIS 29500 has already been created.  SC 34 requests distribution to its members no later than May 1.  I don't know what the delay will be before publication as IS 29500:2008 happens, and I'll beg a copy of the final DIS 29500 before that just to make sure I don't step into some element of harmonization that is impacted by BRM-approved changes (especially the various conformance statements that are new in the final text).  Also, to make any contributions to identification of defects, it is important to reference the most-authoritative available documents.
   Here's what it looks like for intercepting DIS/IS 29500 activity:
        1. Usable final text available in May for provisional use (if it can be obtained) until official IS 29500 editions are issued
        2. Mechanism for receiving defects and related comments on IS 29500 operating in July.
        3. In September, 2008, SC 34 meets in Korea and takes next steps, with meetings every six months (figure March 2009 in Prague, September 2009 in U.S., then 2010 meetings in Sweden, then South Africa).
   Working groups that will be doing the technical work are yet to be set up and they will have their own meetings, conference calls, and mailing lists as well as ones synchronized with SC34.
   (I have a current passport with lots of room for visa stamps.  Now I just need a sponsor for expenses/subsistence and a national body to nominate me to a committee.  Hint, hint.) -- dh
  
2008-04-10 Rick Jelliffe Perspective on SC34 Activity
Rick Jelliffe has a great perspective on the just-concluded SC34 plenary meeting.  Because he wasn't there, he offers it in a "Fake blog from SC34 meeting in Norway."  Jelliffe offers up some important items to hold onto here:
        1. The main SC34 web site (hosted in Japan by the SC34 Secretariat)
        2. The page for accessing public SC34 documents (rewards exploration)
        3. A reminder that TrueType is connected with the ISO/IEC Open Type standard, maintained in SC34 (and relevant for nfoWorks) with a hidden reminder that getting Asian scripts right is probably one of the best demonstrations of harmonization going.
        4. An useful sketch of SC34's interests and responsibilities
        5. Another reminder of my own armchair critic status, something I am working to alter
        6. A discussion of the criticality of accessibility considerations and the resources that apply in the work of SC34 -- a topic that it will be essential to address with regard to harmonization
        7. An injunction to become involved and where to do that (OASIS, W3C, Ecma TC45, the national mirror of SC34 in your neighborhood, etc.)
        8. Links to the DIN NIA-34 update on the harmonization investigation (PDF file), great work that nfoWorks should align with
        9. An interesting side comment about the use of topic maps to present ODF-OOXML mappings (although DIN is focused on translations, not mappings, because of a number of issues that translation surfaces, including round-trip degradation in collaboration scenarios)
        10. Another side comment on how the concern for synchronizing ECMA versions and SC34 versions of OOXML might be extended to the case of OASIS and ODF as well.

I do know how to become engaged in this work (and my passport is indeed current), especially with regard to the prospects for document interoperability through harmonization.   In the United States, the mirror activity would be in a working group of INCITS Technical Committee V1.  (There might even be a liaison function with an association such as AIIM, because of the impact on content management.)  The subsistence and sponsorship part is more difficult because my retirement can't cover it.  Consistent with giving it away and not wanting to account to a commercial interest, I need to come up with some sort of neutral but generous affiliation.  I could also reconcile myself to just collecting and building tools and collaboration via e-mail and distribution list.  Others can pick up on that or not, in an open-source development spirit.  Ponder, ponder, ponder, ...

I was rather proud of myself in creating the nfoWorks Diary and using it to reflect progress in that area on a daily basis.  It is easy to write there because I am busy in my web-site editor already.  But it is not very participative.  There is no feed, even though it is a form of web log, and there is no provision for commentary.  Slight consolation: you can comment here, and I will always receive notice of it.  I'll also see de.licio.us for:orcmid.  It would be great to have an nfoWare wiki though.  That is somewhere down the road to someday.

 
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