SC 34 Plenary, Jeju, Korea

I've just attended my first SC 34 Plenary, and it was an interesting four days on Jeju island, off the coast of Korea. I'm very pleased with how much we accomplished. The short version is that maintenance of ISO/IEC 29500 has now officially begun; the long version is covered below.

First off, just to clarify what went on this week:

  • Working Group 1 (WG1) of SC 34 met on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
  • WG2 and WG3 also met during those days, although I wasn't involved because I was with WG1.
  • The SC 34 plenary took place on Wednesday, and included people from the working group meetings as well as a few people who just came to Jeju for the plenary.

WG1 meeting room

WG1 Meetings

The WG1 meetings on Mon/Tue/Wed covered a variety of topics, because WG1 is tasked with markup languages in general. That includes things like SGML and DSDL, in addition to Open XML and ODF. Here are a few of the topics we discussed during the WG1 meetings:

  • Japan has submitted the first defect reports on the final IS29500 spec, which was made available to SC 34 shortly before the meetings began, and those defect reports are now posted on the SC 34 site. The clock is now ticking for a response to each DR to be prepared within two months as required by the JTC 1 Directives. Murata-san took us through how to create a defect report, using one of Japan's DRs as an example.
  • Rick Jelliffe wasn't able to attend in person, but he sent an audio recording that we listened to in which he went through some proposed changes to Schematron regarding bindings to XSLT and XPath, adding attributes to assert elements, and other topics.
  • Knowing that many people are new to JTC 1 and SC 34 maintenance procedures, Rex Jaeschke provided a detailed review of maintenance procedures and the various Directives that define those processes.
  • We debated the scope of the work of WG5, the new working group on document interoperability, and there was broad consensus that this WG should focus on interoperability between approved ISO/IEC standards. The planned translation report from WG5 will cover interoperability between ISO/IEC 26300 and ISO/IEC 29500.
  • We drafted text for two key statements: a liaison statement to OASIS, and statement from SC 34 to JTC 1 regarding the maintenance agreement between JTC 1 and OASIS. These were long conversations, and the text was revised repeatedly to reflect the priorities and perspectives of the national bodies present. Many countries expressed frustration about the pace of OASIS's responses to defect reports that have been submitted on ISO/IEC 26300 and the inability for SC 34 members to participate in the maintenance of ODF, and this is reflected in the final versions of these statements.
  • We reviewed the latest changes to the comment collection system that will be used by WG4 to collect defect reports from member bodies. I demonstrated the system and noted feedback on various improvements and corrections, and we agreed to go live with the first version of the system as soon as possible, probably some time in October. (Meanwhile, the members can submit defect reports through the SC 34 site as Japan has already done.)
  • We also covered proposed disposition to comments on Part 7 of DSDL, the plan for JTC 1's maintenance of POSIX, and a few other topics.

SC 34 Plenary meeting room

The SC 34 Plenary

This meeting took place in a larger meeting room on another floor of the Shineville conference center. I'd estimate we had around 40 people there, although I've not seen the official attendance list yet. By my count there were 15 countries represented: Brazil, Canada, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Denmark, Finland, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Norway, South Africa, the UK, and the US. I should note that although I'm on INCITS V1 in the US, I was attending this meeting as a member of the Ecma delegation; the US was represented by Dave Welsh and Patrick Durusau.

The plenary included a variety of adminstrative activities, such as reviewing drafts of the SC 34 business plan and the SC 34 secretariat report, but the main order of business was final debate and approval of a series of resolutions. Those resolutions will be posted on the SC 34 site soon, probably later today. (If you want to follow those postings via an RSS feed, there's an unofficial feed available here.)

UPDATE: The resolutions are now posted at Here's the full text of the resolutions on creation of WG4 and WG5 ...

Resolution 2: Establishment of Working Group 4
SC 34 establishes Working Group 4 as follows:
Title: Office Open XML
Terms of reference: Maintenance of, and projects directly and exclusively related to, ISO/IEC 29500
SC 34 instructs its Secretariat to issue a call for participation to the SC 34 members and to request ISO and IEC to publicise the existence of WG 4 to encourage participation from all who are eligible.

Resolution 7: Establishment of Working Group 5
SC 34 establishes Working Group 5 as follows:
Title: Document Interoperability
Terms of Reference: Develop principles of, and guidelines for, interoperability among documents represented using heterogeneous ISO/IEC document file formats. The initial work includes preparation of the Technical Report on ISO/IEC 26300 – ISO/IEC 29500 translation.
SC 34 instructs its Secretariat to issue a call for participation to the SC 34 members and to request ISO and IEC to publicise the existence of WG 5 to encourage participation from all who are eligible.

Here are a few highlights from the resolutions approved at the plenary:

  • WG4 was created, for "Maintenance of, and projects directly and exclusively related to, ISO/IEC 29500." Murata Makoto (Japan) was appointed as Convenor for a three-year term, and the National Body of Japan designated Ecma International as the Secretariat of WG4.
  • Alex Brown was appointed the Convenor of WG1, replacing Murata Makoto in that role.
  • The liaison statement to OASIS was approved, which asks OASIS to comply with the JTC 1 Directives regarding response time on defect reports, or explain why this is not possible.
  • The statement to JTC 1 was approved as a "Request to JTC 1 for alignment of OASIS and JTC 1 Maintenance Procedures." This statement will be on the agenda at the JTC 1 Plenary scheduled for November in Nara, Japan.
  • Working Group 5 on document interoperability was established, with the initial work item being the report in translation between ISO/IEC 26300 and ISO/IEC 29500. Dr. Jaeho Lee (Korea) was appointed Convenor of WG5.
  • A tentative date for the first face-to-face meeting of WG4 and WG5 was set for February 2-4, 2009. (Note that the JTC 1 Directives require 90 days advance notice for the first face-to-face meeting.) We discussed Okinawa as a possible location for the meeting, although that is tentative at this point.
  • A variety of other resolutions were approved for various liaison statements, dispositions of comments, and recommendations from working groups.

Overall, it was a busy and productive week. The tone of these meetings was consistently cooperative and results-oriented and it was great to see so much participation from so many people. Many readers of this blog have a lot to offer during maintenance, and I'd encourage you to get involved in your national body if you would like to participate in the process. In accordance with resolutions we passed at the plenary, SC 34 will issue calls for participation in WG4 and WG5 shortly.

For more perspective on this week's meetings, see Alex Brown's blog. As of this writing he has posted on Day 0, Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3, and I'd expect he'll have a post on the plenary itself (Day 4) up soon. It was great to see Alex and discuss our shared addiction to photography, among other things.

Speaking of, I didn't get out to do any sightseeing on this trip, but I took a few walks near the hotel and snapped lots of photos as usual. You can see some of my favorites on my Flickr photostream.