Spreading the XML paradigm around

Czech Comments for Office Open XML (OOXML) are done


During the past months a lot of my resources were exhausted by OOXML as I as a Czech representative at ISO JTC1/SC34 was responsible for collecting comments and preparing final set of comments to be sent to ISO on behalf of Czech Standards Institute (CSI). Yesterday during the F2F meeting with other people who sent comments or opposed them we agreed on the rest of unresolved issues so basically work is done. Woohoo!

The commenting process in Czech Republic was very open. Everyone could sent his/her comments through the nasty[1] web discussion forum. I then have compiled all comments, rejected some of them and added bunch of new comments coming from my reading of DIS29500. The result was published and again everyone was able to ask for re-approving previously rejected comments, changing or removing comment. Those request were then processed on the F2F meeting and I was quite surprised that we were able quite easily find consensus (and yes, both MS and IBM representatives were on board).

I think that main reason for this smooth process was very small number of people involved and their professionality. All comments were coming only from about six different people/subjects. And although on some popular servers heated discussion were common, not many people forced themselves to go through the text of OOXML and raise comments.

The result is 75 comments which you can read here. Unfortunately comments are now only in Czech (except few found typos which are already in English), but I should prepare English version within next few weeks and I will post it here for those of you who are interested.

Please note that these are just comments. What is also important is the final vote which will be sent to ISO. The general consensus is that if our comments are addressed in final IS we are happy to approve OOXML as an international standard. At this time it is not yet clear whether Czech Standards Institute will send “Yes with comments” or “No with comments” (so called conditional approval). I would be more happy with the later variant because it puts more pressure on Ecma to address comments, but negative vote also obligates CSI to sending their representative to the ballot resolution meeting (BRM). And at this time it is not yet clear whether CSI will be able to get funding for my trip to BRM. We will see.

For your amusement, bellow you can find pictures showing “hardcopy” of OOXML. It seems that I'm one of a few people who really undergo printing this stuff. But I hate reading longer texts from the screen and this way I was able to carry small part of standard with me and read it when I have some spare time.

OOXML is wide…

…and also tall

I was very happy that I could get rid of this bunch of papers. My hardcopy is now pleasing my friend.

If you don't see any new spots on this blog for a while do not be surprised. I did a very rough calculation of how much time I have devoted to processing comments and reading DIS and then I have used my lowest rate which I charge only to my oldest long-term customers from academy and found that opportunity cost was at least 4000 €. Hmmm, no reason for “woohoo”.

But I was always promoting open formats and complaining about using proprietary binary formats for document interchange. After ten years OOXML could finally change this in a large scale because it is default save format in a new version of MS Office. OOXML is far from perfect and very far from being elegant and technically excellent. But making it ISO standard will somehow freeze this format and will be of benefit mainly to third-party developers and users because there will be much stronger warranty of long term stability of format. Woohoo!

[1] Thanks to Czech Standardization Institute.

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