Due to the still overwhelming interest of the now done ISO DIS 29500 process, ISO has created a small F.A.Q. to answer some of the more frequently asked questions.
My excerpts from the F.A.Q. are listed here:
Q: How could a 6.000-page document be fast-tracked?
Because the information technology (IT) sector is fast-moving, the joint technical committee ISO/IEC JTC 1, Information technology,
introduced the "fast track" process for the adoption as ISO/IEC
standards of documents originating from the IT sector on which
substantial development has already taken place.
The number of pages of a document is not a criterion cited in the JTC 1 Directives
for refusal. It should be noted that it is not unusual for IT standards
to run to several hundred, or even several thousand pages.
ISO/IEC 29500 has spent a total of 15 months being processed within
the ISO/IEC system, from its submission in December 2006 to the
deadline of 29 March 2008 approving it.
Q: Why would ISO and IEC allow two standards for the same subject?
In this particular case, some claim that the Open Document Format
(ODF), which is also an ISO/IEC standard (ISO/IEC 26300) and ISO/IEC
29500 are competing solutions to the same problem, while others claim
that ISO/IEC 29500 provides additional functionalities, particularly
with regard to legacy documents.
The ability to have both as International Standards was something
that needed to be decided by the market place. ISO and IEC and their
national members provided the JTC 1 infrastructure that facilitated
such a decision by the market players.
Q: What about hidden patent issues?
Microsoft, the holder of patents involved in the implementation of
ISO/IEC 29500, has made such a declaration to ISO and IEC. If, after
publication of the standard, it is determined that licenses to all
required patents are not so available, one option would be to withdraw
the International Standard.
Q: What about contradictions with other ISO and IEC Standards?
A number of such claimed contradictions were identified during the
one-month JTC 1 fast-track review period, prior to its release for
voting and comment. The submitter, Ecma International, responded to
these comments at the end of the review period.
Some of these comments were reflected in national body comments on
the fast-track Draft International Standard (DIS). These comments, e.g.
the non-alignment with ISO 8601, Data elements and interchange formats – Information interchange – Representation of dates and times, were dealt with in the ballot resolution meeting (BRM).
It is possible that others may still remain, but these can be taken
care of during the maintenance of the standard. In all cases, the
final decision on whether there are contradictions and how to resolve
them rests with the national members of ISO and IEC.
Q: Will ISO and IEC review how ISO/IEC 29500 was adopted?
We reviewed the process before it started, all the while during its
course and afterwards as well. While the voting on ISO/IEC 29500 has
attracted exceptional publicity, it needs to be put in context. ISO and
IEC have collections of more than 17 000 and 7 000 successful standards
respectively, these being revised and added to every month. This
suggests that the standards development process is credible, works well
and is delivering the standards needed, and widely implemented, by the