a 'mooh' point

clearly an IBM drone

OASIS to JTC1: Bye, bye ...

Ever since the hoola about OOXML-approval there has been quite some discontent in the ISO community regarding how ODF TC has fulfilled its obligations after IS26300 approval. A few meetings have taken place to "amend the harsh feelings" and now some preliminary results have been sent to the NBs for consideration. For those with ISO privileges the documents [1], [2] can be found in the SC34 document repository.

There has been a lot of debate as to where maintenance of ODF should take place, be it in OASIS via ODF TC or via some construction as with OOXML, where the originating TC is included (assimilated) into SC34 and maintenance and development takes place there. I really don't care where these activities take place. I just want the best qualified people to do it.

Now, the documents deal with a definition of principles and a more specific definition of "who takes care of what?"-items. When reading through the documents, I couldn't help getting the feeling that what OASIS was essentially telling JTC1 was "It's my way or the highway".

JTC1 and OASIS have come to the following agreement around maintenance: 

  • OASIS ODF TC takes care of maintenance and development of ODF. 
  • National body participation in this work is encouraged to take place in ODF TC by either direct membership, via the "Comment mail list" or via TC Liaison (I didn't know JTC1/SC34 had one of those in ODF TC)
  • OASIS will submit each approved edition of ODF to JTC1/S34 for approval to make sure that approved standards are equivilant.

I completely agree on item 1) and 3) above, but item 2)? In the paper there is not a single sentence on how the procedures in JTC1 fit into all this. Why are there no wording regarding voting procedures in SC34? If ODF TC comes up with something new and "substantially different", it should be submitted using the "PAS submitter status" of OASIS (similar to the Fast track procedure ECMA used with OOXML). But a PAS submission requires voting in SC34 and if the vote fails (or substantial concern is raised), a BRM is scheduled. If the comments are fixed, the result of the BRM will be an "errata-sheet" and a new vote takes place.

Suppose the post-BRM vote approves the submitted ODF edition

  • what will OASIS do with the errata-sheet?
  • what are the principles for getting them back into the OASIS-approved edition of ODF?
  • what is the time frame?

Is the truth really, that OASIS doesn’t want JTC1/SC34 to do anything to ODF but rubber-stamp it when it comes our way?

When the original ODF 1.0 was submitted to JTC1, a maintenance plan was agreed upon. It had two small but really important words in it: "as is". The maintenance agreement said (AFAIR) that JTC1/SC34 was expected to approve future editions of ODF "as is". In other words, what OASIS managed to get JTC1 to agree to was essentially: "Don't look at it, don’t' open it, don't flip through it, just - don't touch it. Get a hold of the ISO-approval stamp, stamp it and send it back to us".

The only possible conclusion is that OASIS does not want any direct ISO-involvement in development of ODF.

That is fine - the ODF TC should do what they find best. But I am wondering if that also means, that OASIS will not send future editions of ODF to JTC1 for approval? Surely, OASIS can't live with the reputation of having their standards simply rubber-stamped by ISO? 

You may also ask why it is not good enough for JTC1-members to contribute to ODF through ISO. Well, OASIS is a vendor-consortium and the interests of the vendors seem to be somewhat different than the interests of the national bodies. If you look at the contributions of Murata Makato and Alex Brown through the ODF Comment list, it is clear that their interests in quality in schemas, constructs and the specification itself was not prioritized in the TC at all. To me a mix of vendor interests and national bodies is the best way to ensure high quality in any specification, but the proposed agreement between JTC1 and OASIS seems to cut out the national bodies acting as "national bodies"

I think it is a good idea to ISO-approve ODF in the future. But JTC1 needs to send a clear signal to OASIS saying, that is it fine that they want the “Seal of ISO” and we welcome them. But in order to have the cake, OASIS must eat it too. The ISO package must come with two items, 1) the ISO quality stamp and 2) national body involvement. You cannot just have the stamp! It should be emphasized that it is the prerogative of the national bodies to process the standards that come their way and that cutting them off and have them do nothing but rubber-stamping the specification is completely unacceptable.

The proposed maintenance proposal will be discussed at the JTC1/SC34 plenary in Prague on Friday, and I hope all national bodies have understood the ramifications of approving the maintenance agreement. I suggest the plenary responds by saying to JTC1/OASIS: "Thank you for your suggestion for a maintenance plan for ODF, but come back again when we as  national bodies have a solidly founded role in the maintenance of the specification".

Comments (18) -

Jesper, you give the impression that these documents are from JTC1/OASIS. In fact they were discussed, drafted and approved a group of individuals, including the SC34 Chairman, SC34 Secretariat, the SC34-appointed Liaison to OASIS and the Convenors of WG1 & WG4.  These documents were sent to NB's for comment and the only comment submitted, from Italy, was expressing approval.  So it will be interesting to see how many NB's take your advice to disapprove a document drafted by SC34's own leadership.

I think I can clear up some of your questions.  You say "In the paper there is not a single sentence on how the procedures in JTC1 fit into all this."  That is intentional.  These documents are about principles and the interface between the OASIS ODF TC and JTC1/SC34.  Activities that take place entirely within OASIS (like production of drafts) and activities that take place entirely within JTC1 or SC34, will take place under the rules of the respective organizations.  There is no need to repeat those rules.  

In the case of new technical versions, such as ODF 1.2, this would be be done according to OASIS rules to the level of an OASIS Standard, and then submitted to JTC1 for normal processing as according to PAS transposition rules.  This would be a JTC1 ballot, not an SC34 one. The rules for creating an OASIS Standard are defined by OASIS and the rules for PAS submission and voting are determined by JTC1 Directives.

As for NB involvement, note how this works in SC34.  At the WG level, where the drafts are prepared, there is no NB participation.  It is participation by technical experts.  Only when the drafts are ready for approval by SC34 do NB's formally review and vote.  When you think of it, an NB is a committee, an abstraction.  An NB cannot go up to the white board and write an XML fragment.  An NB cannot edit a draft.  An NB cannot join a conference call.  An NB can vote, certainly.  But at the WG level there are no NB's.

It is no different with ODF.  The OASIS TC is analogous to a WG.  We already have many SC34 technical experts as members of the ODF TC and would encourage even greater participation.  But formal NB participation occurs at the review and approval stages.  So SC34 NB's participation in the maintenance of ODF is very similar to their participation in the maintenance of an native SC34 projects: provide technical experts at the WG/TC level and develop a NB position during the approval stage.

In any case, no one is asking SC34 NB's to approve a "maintenance agreement".  The maintenance agreement for ODF was already negotiated and approved with JTC1 back in 2006 when ISO/IEC 26300 was unanimously approved.  The question for SC34, as given to them by JTC1, is to develop maintenance procedures for implementing that prior agreement that are consistent with OASIS and JTC1 procedures.  You might not like the agreement that was made in 2006, but that agreement is not under discussion.

but that agreement is not under discussion.
It might if the practical implementation of it is found to be conflicting with JTC1 directives


Hi Rob,

I appologize for the delayed reply. but we've been busy little bees here in Prague (you know, twittering and all)

Activities that take place entirely within OASIS (like production of drafts) and activities that take place entirely within JTC1 or SC34, will take place under the rules of the respective organizations. There is no need to repeat those rules.

That is true - the interfaces between the standardisation organisations need to be described. However, only the interface from OASIS to SC34 is described. Only how documents are sent to SC34 are described - not how they are sent back.

The document N1148 speaks about "Memorandum of Principles Between OASIS and ISO/IEC JTC 1 Maintenance of OpenDocument Format Standard". Bullet 3 states that OASIS will send approved versions of ODF to JTC1/SC34 to ensure equivilant standards. But if JTC1/SC34 has other priorities than ODF TC, then changes are likely to be suggested before approval. Can you tell us what will happen, if an OASIS-approved ODF edition is modified during a BRM? Will OASIS submit an errata-sheet with the changes to keep the standards in line?

Luc Bollen

Jesper,

"it should be submitted using the "PAS submitter status" of OASIS (similar to the Fast track procedure ECMA used with OOXML)"
The PAS and Fast Track approval procedures are indeed similar, but AFAIK the objective is not the same: the Publicly Available Standard transposition rules, as the name clearly shows, is for transposing at ISO JTC1 level a standard which is already established and available.  It should therefore be an exception that a BRM makes significant changes to a submitted PAS.

"The maintenance agreement said (AFAIR) that JTC1/SC34 was expected to approve future editions of ODF "as is".  [...] Surely, OASIS can't live with the reputation of having their standards simply rubber-stamped by ISO?"
Approval "as is" seems to me to be a logical consequence of a Publicly Available Standard transposition (read again the 4 last words)...

"It should be emphasized that it is the prerogative of the national bodies to process the standards that come their way and that cutting them off and have them do nothing but rubber-stamping the specification is completely unacceptable."
As reminded by Rob, the prerogative of National Bodies is not to "process the standards" but to vote on them. The "processing" of the standards normally comes before the standard is submitted to the NB vote, either at the JTC1 SC level, or at the consortium TC level.

Maybe your confusion comes from the experience of the OOXML approval, where major "reshuffling", correction and cleaning of the text took place during the BRM.  But this was an exceptional situation, that should never have happened...  For OOXML, Ecma produced a document of 6000 pages in around one year in a not so open way, then submitted it immediately to ISO JTC1 via Fast Track, without any serious TC or SC review.  And the first opportunity for the NB experts to have a say was after the NBs first vote, during a one week BRM where they had to make a decision on more than 1000 comments.  This was of course completely unacceptable... but was nevertheless happily accepted by JTC1!

With ODF 1.2, which is in preparation at TC level for several years, any NB expert, like Murata Makato and Alex Brown, can have a say about the text and can even vote on the Committee Drafts (and many are currently doing so).  So, if there are things unacceptable to some NBs in the ODF 1.2 text, they can let it know now, and have the text amended accordingly.  So, I personally see no problem for JTC1 "rubber stamping" (as you say) the PAS submission, because there is ample opportunities for NBs to amend the text before it is sent for "rubber stamping".

Hi Luc,

Thank you for your contribution Smile

It should therefore be an exception that a BRM makes significant changes to a submitted PAS.

Well, I don't agree to that assumption. If there is a BRM, it is because there was either a negative vote or a substantial number of comments on the proposed standard.

Hence the name - "Ballot Resolution Meeting".

As reminded by Rob, the prerogative of National Bodies is not to "process the standards" but to vote on them. The "processing" of the standards normally comes before the standard is submitted to the NB vote, either at the JTC1 SC level, or at the consortium TC level.

That might be true in theory. But if a standard is presented to e.g. JTC1/SC34 and the interests of the national bodies have not been dealt with, the national bodies are likely to vote "no" to it. So national bodies will indeed "process" the standard to see if it suits their needs.

Maybe your confusion comes from the experience of the OOXML approval, where major "reshuffling", correction and cleaning of the text took place during the BRM. But this was an exceptional situation, that should never have happened... For OOXML, Ecma produced a document of 6000 pages in around one year in a not so open way, then submitted it immediately to ISO JTC1 via Fast Track, without any serious TC or SC review. And the first opportunity for the NB experts to have a say was after the NBs first vote, during a one week BRM where they had to make a decision on more than 1000 comments. This was of course completely unacceptable... but was nevertheless happily accepted by JTC1!

Dude, you gotta get your facts straight.

As ECMA-376 was processed in ECMA TC45, three (or was it just two?) drafts were made publically available for review. There was, in your words, "amble time to contribute". As far as I know, the feedback ECMA got from these drafts was basically nothing.

ECMA-376 was submitted to ISO in the end of 2006. In the period until the vote in September 2007, the NBs used countless hours reviewing the text. You could argue that it was not enough for a specification of this size (and I'd likely agree with you), but saying that it was submitted via FastTrack "without serious SC review" is simply stupid.

After the vote we used an equal amount of time talking to ISO/IEC about the disposition of comments. The process took place from October 2007 until mid January 2008 on bi-weekly basis (at least from the Danish NB's situation). Saying that we didn't have a say until the BRM is, again, stupid.

So, if there are things unacceptable to some NBs in the ODF 1.2 text, they can let it know now, and have the text amended accordingly. So, I personally see no problem for JTC1 "rubber stamping" (as you say) the PAS submission, because there is ample opportunities for NBs to amend the text before it is sent for "rubber stamping".

Yes, and I'd encourage every NB with concerns about something in ODF to raise their voices via either ODF channels or SC34-channels (as the proposed agreement mentions) in due time. Alex Brown has done this, Murata Makato has done this and I have done this. But let's consider a situation, where ODF TC defers a request from a national body to a later edition of ODF. Would you deny the NB the opportunity to try to have the request added when it lands in SC34?

The fact of the matter is simply that sometimes national bodies have different interests than vendors. We are currently in Prague working on maintenance and development of OOXML. We have had some really constructive and productive days here, but it is clear to me that there are som key areas where the (generally speaking) interests of the appointed experts of the national bodies differ from the interests of the vendors.

Implying between the lines that the national bodies should simply "shut up and sign" when ODF 1.2 lands on our table is basicalyl the same as saying that the vendor-consortium "OASIS knows better than the national bodies".

I fundamentally disagree with that.

Luc Bollen

Jesper, I'm afraid I have to disagree with most of your comments...  

As ECMA-376 was processed in ECMA TC45, three (or was it just two?) drafts were made publically available for review. There was, in your words, "amble time to contribute". As far as I know, the feedback ECMA got from these drafts was basically nothing.
- Let's have the facts straight. Ecma TC45 was created on 08-Dec-05. Draft 1.3 (3983 pages) was made available on 18-May-06. Draft 1.4 (5369 pages) was made available on 23-Aug-06. The final version (6002 pages) was published on 09-Oct-06 and officially approved by Ecma on 09-Dec-06 (see http://www.ecma-international.org/news/index1.html).  That means less than 5 months between the first draft being available and the final version of a 6002 pages document being published. Sorry, I don't call this ample time for NBs to contribute.  It is not surprising that Ecma received basically no comments...

ECMA-376 was submitted to ISO in the end of 2006. In the period until the vote in September 2007, the NBs used countless hours reviewing the text. You could argue that it was not enough for a specification of this size (and I'd likely agree with you), but saying that it was submitted via FastTrack "without serious SC review" is simply stupid.
- Sorry to be stupid, but you say the same thing as me: Ecma-376 was submitted to ISO in Dec-06, without any serious TC review (you cannot produce a 6002 pages document in 10 months and pretend to have done a serious review) and no SC review at all.  The review took place (at NB level, not at SC level) between Jan-06 and Sep-07, i.e. after the submission.

After the vote we used an equal amount of time talking to ISO/IEC about the disposition of comments. The process took place from October 2007 until mid January 2008 on bi-weekly basis (at least from the Danish NB's situation). Saying that we didn't have a say until the BRM is, again, stupid.
- There was not a single word changed in the draft between the approval by Ecma in Dec-06 and the BRM in Feb-08. So, I (stupidly ?) maintain that the first opportunity for the NB experts to have a say about changing the text of OOXML was during the BRM.

Implying between the lines that the national bodies should simply "shut up and sign" when ODF 1.2 lands on our table is basically the same as saying that the vendor-consortium "OASIS knows better than the national bodies".
- ODF 1.2 working drafts have been available for the last 2 or 3 years.  ODF 1.2 Committee Draft 01 (792 pages) is available since 17-Feb-09, and Public review(s) are planned later in 2009.  This is what I call "ample time to contribute".
- I do not imply at all the the NB should "shut up and sign" for ODF 1.2.  They can of course talk as much as they want during the review of the Committee Draft  and later during the public review of the final draft.  Several NB experts are indeed doing so, and I encourage more to do the same. And the NBs can of course reject the final text (i.e. vote NO) when it will be submitted to ISO if they don't like it.
- This being said, it seems that JTC1 accepts a "shut up and sign" approach (that I do not recommend), as you find the following text in the PAS Transposition section of the JTC1 directives:
"14.4.3.14 [...] It is also the right of the Recognised PAS Submitter to request that the document remain unchanged throughout the transposition process."

Luc,

Jesper, I'm afraid I have to disagree with most of your comments...

Well, it wouldn't be the first time you and I dissagree Smile

That means less than 5 months between the first draft being available and the final version of a 6002 pages document being published. Sorry, I don't call this ample time for NBs to contribute. It is not surprising that Ecma received basically no comments...

I think the quality-level of the specification was too low, but I do not agree with your assertion that there was no NB feedback due to the relatively short timespan it lived in ECMA. It would be the same twisted logic behind a statement like "ODF 1.0 was approved in SC34 with no opposition because the NBs liked it". There was no NB/community feedback for ECMA due to the simple fact that people didn't care.

- There was not a single word changed in the draft between the approval by Ecma in Dec-06 and the BRM in Feb-08. So, I (stupidly ?) maintain that the first opportunity for the NB experts to have a say about changing the text of OOXML was during the BRM.
Yes, and I maintain that you are wrong. That we didn't start changing the text before the BRM was because the document was under ballot. We prepared a lot of  work before the BRM to be prepared (as much as we could), and your claim that the week in Geneva was the first time we could provide feedback and comments on the text is wrong.

- ODF 1.2 working drafts have been available for the last 2 or 3 years. ODF 1.2 Committee Draft 01 (792 pages) is available since 17-Feb-09, and Public review(s) are planned later in 2009. This is what I call "ample time to contribute".
I agree. You should count your blessings that OOXML is now maintained in ISO. The process of maintaining it and correcting it is at times so frustrating long, that you'll have more than "amble time" now Smile

And the NBs can of course reject the final text (i.e. vote NO) when it will be submitted to ISO if they don't like it.
Yes - but what about the cases that fall in between? Let's say Denmark votes "no with comments" (as we did with OOXM). This is basically a way of saying: "We like it, but we would like to have some things changed". I am requesting information about what will happen in this situation. The ISO-procedures are clear here: A BRM is possibly scheduled and the result of that is put to ballot again. If this results in a "Yes"-vote, the ISO-edition of ODF 1.2 will be different than OASIS ODF 1.2. What will OASIS do after this?

Rob, will OASIS submit an errata-sheet to ODF 1.2 with the modifications during the ISO process to ensure "equivilant texts"?

This being said, it seems that JTC1 accepts a "shut up and sign" approach (that I do not recommend),
Yes - and it is the right of the NBs to say, that that is not acceptable if they do not think the standard is suitable to become an ISO-standard.

All I am asking OASIS is: What will happen then?

Rick Jelliffe

What matters for a standard is whether, at the end of the day, it had adequate and equitable stakeholder participation and review, from broad-enough stakeholder panels to be credible. The loading of participation may vary at the start (e.g. drafting), the middle (e.g. consortium review), the end (e.g. ISO review); each different process will have a different story with lots of opportunity for spilt milk. But it is the final draft that counts.

Rubberstamping at any stage simply necessitates more activity at the other stages, the burden shifts. This may cause grumbles about ideals and expectations, but the goal of the process is a standard with adequate work done for the stakeholders to sign off on. OOXML had deficiencies at the drafting stage (too much cut and paste from material written as documentation not a standard, IMHO) and so much more work was needed at the review stage, for example. Big deal.

So the question for ISO NBs looking at a new PAS (and indeed, at the old maintenance agreement) for ODF is whether, if the PAS process does not allow review and is just straight transposition (i.e. rubberstamping), whether the committee and drafting processes were sufficiently actually inclusive of a broad-enough range of stakeholders to get the same kinds of issues that NBs consider important dealt with, and whether they in fact worked satisfactorily.

Obviously there is a strong dislike for the Fast-Track process after OOXML, and it will be interesting whether this spills over into a dislike for PAS too, if it turns out that PAS is even *worse* at allowing effective review than Fast-Track.

I know that several NBs claimed they would not support any more Fast-Track submissions: it will be interesting to see how they can distinguish PAS standards. If there is no effective review from the JTC1 or SC34 side, and if some OASIS people are positively antagonistic to JTC1/SC34, perhaps it is better to simply scrap IS26300, as I think Rob has mooted. ISO should not compromise its standards, and if OASIS does not think that ISO review would give any value, why not just keep it an OASIS standard?

Hi Rick,

Obviously there is a strong dislike for the Fast-Track process after OOXML, and it will be interesting whether this spills over into a dislike for PAS too, if it turns out that PAS is even *worse* at allowing effective review than Fast-Track.


I do not consider PAS "worse" than FT, but the interesting catch is what Luc mentioned - that the PAS-submitter can request to have the proposed PAS-standard rubber-stamped.

If there is no effective review from the JTC1 or SC34 side, and if some OASIS people are positively antagonistic to JTC1/SC34, perhaps it is better to simply scrap IS26300, as I think Rob has mooted. ISO should not compromise its standards, and if OASIS does not think that ISO review would give any value, why not just keep it an OASIS standard?

I don't think not going to ISO with ODF is a realistic alternative. Remember, most of the credibility of ISO-standardisation in the area of document formats was generated by the OOXML opponents - before OOXML was approved. I think it will be a really hard sell to now say, that ODF 1.2 does not need to be an international standard - "just" a consortium standard.

Another interesting thing will be how ODF 1.2 will arrive in ISO. As a new PAS-project or as an amendment of ODF 1.0 ?

... more about this later.

Luc Bollen

@Jesper: I agree with most of your replies to my previous comments Wink. But I never made the claim that "the week in Geneva was the first time [you] could provide feedback and comments on the text". My claim is that the BRM was the first opportunity to effectively have changes to the text accepted.

About the possible reaction of OASIS to changes made by JTC1 during the PAS transposition process: I cannot speak for them of course, but I guess it could depend of the nature of the changes being made. As hinted by Rick, one important question will be the value that a JTC1 stamp still has after they compromised their image during the OOXML saga.  My own view is that most of the credibility of ISO-standardisation in the area of document formats was destroyed by the behaviour of some OOXML proponents and the resulting impact on some NBs.

It could just be that OASIS decides that getting an ISO stamp is no longer worth the effort. After all, most W3C standards have never been transposed as ISO standards, and they are not less valuable and useful this way.

Microsoft needed the ISO stamp for OOXML because they could not compete with ODF simply based on the "quality" of their specification, and at this time the ISO stamp was highly regarded. I'm not sure the same is currently true for ODF. So indeed why not just keep ODF 1.2 as an OASIS standard, in the same way OOXML should have been kept as an Ecma standard.

@Rick: your analysis is spot on. However
- if OASIS thinks that an additional ISO review would not give any value because most NB experts already had their comments incorporated in ODF 1.2 during the OASIS review, this should not prevent them to submit it for PAS transposition "as-is". My understanding of the maintenance agreement is rather that they committed to submit the subsequent versions to allow the OASIS and ISO standards to remain aligned. It would then be the prerogative of the NBs to decide if they want to accept the new version or not.
- IS26300 is an ISO standard, and I don't see why it should be "simply scrapped".  I'm not even sure this is possible, as several countries are recommending or imposing it in their national regulations.

Luc,

My claim is that the BRM was the first opportunity to effectively have changes to the text accepted.
Yes, but that's ISO for you. The text was put to ballot, the ballot failed and the necessary changes to it were approved at the BRM. This is the corner stone of being able to put standards from other standardisation organisations into ISO - the speedy processes as Fast-Track and PAS.

About the possible reaction of OASIS to changes made by JTC1 during the PAS transposition process: I cannot speak for them of course, but I guess it could depend of the nature of the changes being made.

Remember that the liaison for the submitted standard is an integral part of the process. They do not formally have a say/vote (at least that was the case with ECMA and OOXML), but I think it would be unlikely that changes were made at the BRM that were totally unacceptable to the submitter.

(I don't have any history to back this up, though)

Another way to put this is, that if ISO requires some changes before a standard is approved as an international standard, the submitter should accept these or simply withdraw the submission. The proposed standard would then clearly not meet the criteria for being an ISO standard.

After all, most W3C standards have never been transposed as ISO standards, and they are not less valuable and useful this way.

I agree

Microsoft needed the ISO stamp for OOXML because they could not compete with ODF simply based on the "quality" of their specification, and at this time the ISO stamp was highly regarded.

I do not agree. I actually think OOXML would have been equally succesful as "just" an ECMA-standard. This was not due to quality but due to the huge install-base of applications supporting OOXML (and here primarily Microsoft Office 2007)

The reason Microsoft wanted it to become an ISO-standard was imo, that the ODF-proponents had been extremely successful in convincing everyone that being an ISO-standard was more or less all that mattered. That ISO-approval was some kind of "a priori"-criteria to be met first and foremost. Microsoft didn't send OOXML to ISO because they wanted to - they send it to ISO because they had to.

So indeed why not just keep ODF 1.2 as an OASIS standard, in the same way OOXML should have been kept as an Ecma standard.

I think not having ODF 1.2 in ISO is not an option for OASIS - simply because OOXML is the only real ISO-standard for document formats - being maintained and developed inside ISO. Now deciding not to have ODF 1.2 sent to ISO would highlight the hypocrisy of "claiming the ISO brand" and it would be devastating for ODF.

Luc Bollen

Jesper, "I think not having ODF 1.2 in ISO is not an option for OASIS - simply because OOXML is the only real ISO-standard for document formats - being maintained and developed inside ISO. Now deciding not to have ODF 1.2 sent to ISO would highlight the hypocrisy of "claiming the ISO brand" and it would be devastating for ODF."

I think not having ODF 1.2 in ISO is not an option for OASIS firstly because OASIS committed in their maintenance agreement to submit it. So, the decision to accept it as an ISO standard (or not) will be a decision of JTC1 NBs.

Having ODF 1.2 rejected by JTC1 and still be more successful than OOXML (because it is the only standard format for editable documents really independent from the Microsoft Office monopoly) could on the other hand be devastating for JTC1, as this would demonstrate that the ISO brand has lost all its value for document formats.

So, I'm sure that neither OASIS nor JTC1 will want to take the risk. I expect that the ODF 1.2 draft will be thoroughly reviewed with enough contribution from NB experts before being approved by OASIS and submitted to JTC1, so that no changes will be needed at JTC1 level.

As I said in my first comment, having drastic changes at the BRM level is not a must, but is an exceptional situation that should never happen. Having a standard accepted during the ballot with no changes at all is either an indication that nobody cares or that the standard is of the appropriate quality, not that JTC1 is asked to "shut up and sign".  Having a standard accepted after a BRM completely scrambled it is the sign of a poor quality text and nothing else.

Jesper,

The agreement proposed concerns corrigenda, amendments and periodic review -- those aspects of maintenance that directly involve SC34.  

The technical revisions of ODF will occur by application of the PAS procedure, which is a JTC1 ballot, not an SC34 ballot.  PAS follows JTC1 rules.  SC's have little role in PAS.  The SC Secretariat has a role related to scheduling the BRM, appointing the Convenor and Project Editor.  But any NB may attend the BRM, whether a member of the SC or not.  And apparently any NB may vote, whether a P-member or an O-member.  So the the importance of SC34 P-members in the BRM process is much diluted.  In fact, there is nothing called for from SC34, sitting as a committee, to decide in PAS procedure.  There are no SC34 ballots, no participation or recommendation by an SC34 WG or AHG, etc.   So that is why you do not see mention in those two documents of the role of SC34 in PAS.  What small role it plays is already documented in JTC1 Directives.  But the procedure primarily involves JTC1.

As for what would happen if the BRM requested changes to an ODF 1.2 DIS, this would of course depend on the specifics of the change requested.  Depending on the severity of the defect and degree of consensus, I could imagine such changes being made directly to the final DIS, and OASIS adopting "Second Edition" to synch up.  We did that with ODF 1.0, even with small defects.  However, for ODF 1.2, for lesser defects it may be appropriate to address them in errata/corrigenda, now that we have a process set up to handle them.

As you know, JTC1 Directives gives a PAS submitter the right to request no changes be made to the DIS during the transposition process, and gives them the ability to withdraw the submission at any point prior to publication.  You didn't have that option in Fast Track. Of course, JTC1 NB's also have the ability to vote No if they believe the submission is unacceptable.  So there are clearly a range of responses available to a PAS submitter, as well as to JTC1 NB's.  Since each side has a bit of power, I think this will discourage extremism and encourage compromise.  

Of course, the most productive form of collaboration for SC34 is to give feedback early and often, and that is why the agreement calls out the need for the ODF TC to keep SC34 informed as to the availability of updated drafts, and reminds SC34 how to submit comments on such drafts. If a serious, killer issue arises at the BRM, it would only occur if there were failures at several earlier steps, including in the ODF TC, the OASIS public review, but also the failure of SC34 to note or report the defect in the drafts.  SC34's involvement in reviewing and giving feedback on the ODF 1.2 work does not start at PAS submission time.  Informally it has already begun, with many good comments by Murata-san, Alex and Rick.  Hopefully with the creation of the new ad-hoc in SC34, we can formalize that activity a bit more.

-Rob

@Jesper

ODF 1.2 cannot be expressed as an amendment to ISO/IEC 26300:2006. In purely practical terms, the text has been completely changed in every section as a result of the new auto-generated schema commentary. If ODF is resubmitted it will be as a new PAS submission (in out terms, a revision of the Standard).

When 1.0 was submitted, I understand OASIS initially indicated they were not prepared to accept modifications, but this position was not maintained when it become obvious this would jeopardise the chances of acceptance. Submitting ODF 1.2 with a stipulation that it must remain unchanged is, in my opinion, a sure-fire way to guarantee it fails to get approval by the JTC 1 NBs.

There is another, big, consideration in play here. The PAS and Fast Track processes are getting merged in JTC 1, and aligned with the ISO and IEC processes. This will have potentially huge implications.. One idea on the table at the moment is that any PAS submitted standard will have 3 years to get fully assimilated as a pure JTC-1 Standard, or face automatic withdrawal.

It's clear I think that when (if) ODF 1.2 comes into JTC 1 (and it's looking like that may be many many months ahead), the rules of the game will have changed significantly since ODF 1.0 was submitted. There will be no "free ticket" this time.

- Alex.



@Luc

I think you need to be careful to separate the different interests in play here.

For the NBs, ISO and IEC are two of "their" standards bodies - almost an extension of themselves rather than separate organisations. NBs - even those who did not like OOXML or its standardisation process - will continue to co-exist with these International bodies for quite some while yet; apart from anything else their business models are often tied to the re-sale of standards that ISO and IEC produce.

That is why we still see strong participation, even in supposedly wicked OOXML, from NBs which were unhappy with the OOXML standardisaiton process. So - for example - the UK, Brazil, Canada and South Africa were all represented in Prague.

You should also be careful to separate the views of OASIS from the views of the ODF TC, and maybe even from the views of vendors on the ODF TC.

OASIS is a vendor-led pay-to-play standards consortium. It relies on membership revenue to exist, and times are tough. One of OASIS's key selling points is that it offers a route to JTC 1 standardisation. If OASIS lost this USP it would be striking at its own heart, and there are other competitor consortia who would be only too happy to pick over the carcass. So I don't expect OASIS to be pushing the line (at least externally) that it needn't offer a route to International Standardization; in reality of course, governments and big International bodies specify ISO and IEC standards for procurement, not OASIS ones.

Now, IBM may well be pushing an "ISO is not all that" line now, just as it pushed a "ISO is the ultimate" line a couple of years ago. It suits some people round the edges to believe this kind of stuff too. But in my view, even allowing oneself to get drawn onto that axis of debate is just naïve.

- Alex.

@Rob

> If a serious, killer issue arises at the BRM, it would
> only occur if there were failures at several earlier steps,
> including in the ODF TC, the OASIS public review, but also
> the failure of SC34 to note or report the defect in the
> drafts. SC34's involvement in reviewing and giving feedback
> on the ODF 1.2 work does not start at PAS submission
> time.


In general, I agree. However, I'm not sure you've characterised SC 34's role quite right here ...

SC 34 experts might well contribute opinions on the draft via liaison with the ODF TC, or SC 34-affiliated people may offer informal comments (as I have been doing) via OASIS's mailing lists. However SC 34 has no duty to review the upcoming drafts of other standards organisations, and some NBs might even take a dim view of their experts participating in "out of band" activities. Personally, I suspect the AHG 3 will be very much more focussed on channelling defect reports on the ODF 1.0 and 1.1 specs to OASIS, as these are (or, in the case of 1.1, soon might be) projects within SC 34's formal work programme. Of course, many/most of the fixes to these versions of ODF can also usefully be forward-applied to ODF 1.2.

So I think it would be unwise to assume that if there's some kind of BRM meltdown, blame will be on hand to apportion to SC 34. The prime responsibility for getting ODF 1.2 into good technical shape lies squarely with the ODF TC, and the prime responsibility for making sure ODF is suitable for PAS submission lies squarely with the top brass at OASIS.

Alex, you are in error when you say that PAS is a "key selling point" of OASIS.  Of the 100 or so OASIS standards, you can count the number of them transposed via PAS on a single hand and still have some fingers left over.  You must be thinking of Ecma, where almost all of their standards (over 90%) are Fast Tracked and indeed where they advertise that capability in their marketing literature: www.robweir.com/.../stranger-than-fiction.html

In any case I think you have this backwards.  When applied correctly (and there have admittedly been abuses) PAS and Fast Track help give JTC1 needed relevancy. JTC1 not only permits PAS, it actively encourages it.  It allows JTC1 to have relevancy in areas of rapid technological change.  Without these procedures, JTC1 would quickly slip into the the technological backwaters.  SC's like SC34 already are close to obscurity as it is, since the vast preponderance of timely and market relevant XML standards come from industry consortia.  If you asked the average user of XML technologies to rate the most important XML standards, I doubt an SC34 one would even place in the top 20.  In that light, I think SC34 would benefit from involvement with more Fast Track's and PAS transpositions.  Not only would it help reduce the angst that comes from unfamiliarity with the process, it would also serve to increase SC34's relevancy.

Also, I think that your mention of "duty" is misplaced.  Duty is never mention in JTC1 Directives with respect to SC's or to technical experts.  It is only mentioned with respect to SC officers and NBs.  P-members have certain duties, among them "to take an active part in the work of JTC 1 or the SC and to attend meetings."  The recently-created AHG on ODF maintenance claims it will "coordinate all activities relating to the maintenance of ISO/IEC 26300 within SC34". Items also suggested, such as making an amendment out of ODF 1.1, obviously already involve taking material from "other standards organizations".  Also, I think Jesper has already mentioned that the Danish NB was going to look at the ODF 1.2 CD. This is all good.

I certainly would not say (and did not say) that SC NB's have a duty to review drafts.  In fact we have all observed that P-member "duty" may be discharged by joining JTC1 two days before a ballot ends, voting Yes on a 6,000 page DIS, and then never being heard of again.  Evidently having access to a single person with a pulse is sufficient expression of "duty" so far as JTC1 is concerned.  So I wouldn't presume to state how little an NB may do and have an equal vote to BSI's or ANSI's.

@Rob

> Alex, you are in error when you say that PAS is a "key selling point" of OASIS. Of
> the 100 or so OASIS standards, you can count the number of them transposed via PAS
> on a single hand and still have some fingers left over.

Well, your view is at variance from the pitch that OASIS gives about itself. But, as I said, the view of the ODF TC and of OASIS itself are different things.

> You must be thinking of Ecma, where almost all of their standards (over 90%) are
> Fast Tracked and indeedwhere they advertise that capability in their marketing
> literature: www.robweir.com/.../stranger-than-fiction.html

Yup, a process that IBM has, as an Ecma member, been a very enthusiastic supporter of, of course (having approved every Fast Track ever, except one).

> In any case I think you have this backwards. When applied correctly (and there have
> admittedly been abuses) PAS and Fast Track help give JTC1 needed relevancy. JTC1 not
> only permits PAS, it actively encourages it.

JTC 1 still bears the scars of ODA, OSI etc. For many members these accelerated adoption procedures were and are a required means of (as you say) maintaining the relevance of JTC 1.

> It allows JTC1 to have relevancy in areas of rapid technological change. Without
> these procedures, JTC1 would quickly slip into the the technological backwaters.

Maybe; maybe not. I always find predicting the future a risky business. There are other ways to do "fast" than the existing mechanisms, I think.

> SC's like SC34 already are close to obscurity as it is, since the vast preponderance
> of timely and market relevant XML standards come from industry consortia. If you
> asked the average user of XML technologies to rate the most important XML standards,
> I doubt an SC34 one would even place in the top 20.

Quite possibly (except for RELAX NG and Schematron of course). But isn't there also a place for aiming sometimes beyond the average user? If not, then would we ever have had technologies like SGML (which begat XML), DSSSL (which begat XSL), HyTime (which begat things too numerous to mention). Vision is sometimes worthwile too. I don't think (as I have said before) it is very helpful to try and impose a commercial competition model onto our thinking about standards bodies and I'm not about to try. Industry consortia have an important role, so do international standards bodies. Otherwise, why do you think OASIS submitted ODF to JTC 1 in the first place?

> In that light, I think SC34 would benefit from involvement with more Fast Track's
> and PAS transpositions. Not only would it help reduce the angst that comes from
> unfamiliarity with the process, it would also serve to increase SC34's relevancy.

SC 34 does what it's told by JTC 1. As for unfamiliarity with the process, as I have said elsewhere the process is undergoing big changes at the moment.

> Also, I think that your mention of "duty" is misplaced. Duty is never mention in
> JTC1 Directives with respect to SC's or to technical experts. It is only mentioned
> with respect to SC officers and NBs. P-members have certain duties, among them "to
> take an active part in the work of JTC 1 or the SC and to attend meetings." The
> recently-created AHG on ODF maintenance claims it will "coordinate all activities
> relating to the maintenance of ISO/IEC 26300 within SC34".

Yes, and ISO/IEC 26300 is not ODF 1.2.

> Items also suggested, such as making an amendment out of ODF 1.1, obviously already
> involve taking material from "other standards organizations". Also, I think Jesper
> has already mentioned that the Danish NB was going to look at the ODF 1.2 CD. This
> is all good.

Absolutely. I'm merely stating this is a voluntary effort to be applauded, not an assumed activity to be lined up for blame if it falls short of anybody's expectations.

> I certainly would not say (and did not say) that SC NB's have a duty to review
> drafts. In fact we have all observed that P-member "duty" may be discharged by
> joining JTC1 two days before a ballot ends, voting Yes on a 6,000 page DIS, and
> then never being heard of again.

Or indeed voting "no" and then appealing the result, never to be heard from again -- as we have all also observed.

> Evidently having access to a single person with a pulse is sufficient expression of
> "duty" so far as JTC1 is concerned. So I wouldn't presume to state how little an NB
> may do and have an equal vote to BSI's or ANSI's.

You'll get no argument from me if you're maintaining that some NBs need to do rather better in making sure their voice really is their nation's voice...

- Alex.

Comments are closed