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Drafting Future of OOXML

2008-04-09

Or to be more precise Drafting Future of OOXML Maintenance. I have spent last few days in Oslo attending ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34 plenary meeting. SC34 is now responsible for maintaining ISO/IEC 29500 (OOXML) and this meeting drafted paths for future maintenance of this document format which is now in ISO hands.


All resolutions from meeting are available in this document. In the following text I will emphasize few important resolutions.

The new ad-hoc group for maintaining ISO/IEC 29500 will be created. This group will be responsible for maintenance and future evolution of ISO/IEC 29500.

In past in the blogosphere there were concerns that Microsoft and ECMA will have complete control over any future revisions of the standard. I shared those doubts especially because this model was used for maintaining ODF and the result was very bad – ODF committee at OASIS simply ignored feedback from SC34 for a long time and developed new versions of ODF on their own. This will not be case with OOXML as all defect reports and new features will be handled by ISO in SC34. Of course ECMA will be also member of this ad-hoc group as they have necessary expertise.

But ISO is not a racing car, so it will take several long months before such ad-hoc group is established. Meanwhile another temporary ad-hoc group will create system for collecting and viewing comments on ISO/IEC 29500. It is well known that after BRM many typos and some minor technical issues left in the text of standard and such comment collecting system will guarantee that such problems are not lost and forgotten.

Because ISO was rightfully criticized for closed operations this comment collecting activity will be open to the general public. So new comments on ISO/IEC 29500 could be sent not only by national bodies as is usual in ISO work, but by anyone. The list of all collected comments will be also made public. The technical details have to be worked out but you can imagine it as something like public bugzilla for OOXML.

For me this sounds as a very reasonable approach for maintaining OOXML. We will see how it will work in practice.

As you probably know Norwegian OOXML vote was different then recommendation of their technical committee led by Steve Pepper. Steve is a man with heart on the right place so he can't left this guile without response. There was anti-OOXML demo before SC34 closing plenary meeting.

More pictures.

I don't think that such demo can change anything including Norwegian vote. Given that I have grown up in communist regime but now we have capitalism (mixed with EU socialism) I don't think that it is worth to protest against such nonessential thing as document format is. Especially in the case of OOXML where its acceptance as an international standard is good thing if you take all pros and cons into account.

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