WG4 meetings and SC 34 plenary, Prague

We had three days of WG4 face-to-face meetings in Prague last week, followed by the SC34 plenary on Friday at the same location.  As Jesper has noted, it was a tough week and we made an enormous amount of progress.

For those who might not know, WG4 is the SC34 working group responsible for the maintenance of the Open XML spec, ISO/IEC 29500.  WG4 had its first meeting in Okinawa in January, and this time around in Prague we had more participants (31 the first day, as opposed to 22 in Okinawa) and worked through many more defect reports.  I’ve not seen project editor Rex Jaeschke’s official report yet, but we worked through over 30 defect reports ranging from simple editorial corrections to far-reaching changes such as the Swiss proposal to change the namespaces to distinguish them from ECMA-376 1st Edition.

We reached consensus on general guidelines for distinguishing corrections (COR) from amendments (AM), and based on that we asked SC34 to approve creation of amendment processes for parts 1, 2 and 4.  (We don’t happen to have any defect reports on the table for part 3.)

We also agreed on several other things that will be covered in the minutes of the meeting (which aren’t out yet), including procedural matters – dates of conference calls, timeline for the amendment and corrigendum processes,  and so on – as well as technical issues such as support of the principles that WG1 had come up with on Monday regarding XML 1.0 4th edition, or identification of two proposals for handling the Swiss namespace proposal.  On that last topic, we agreed to review those two proposals with our national bodies and reach a final decision within WG4 by 30 days from now.

The trend toward real-time coverage of these meetings on Twitter, which had started in Okinawa, continued with Alex, Jesper, Inigo and me covering WG4, and Lars and others covering other working group meetings.  It’s really cool to see reactions from others via Twitter while the conversation’s still taking place in the room, and this also allows informal/unofficial interaction by others who aren’t attending the meetings.  Gareth Horton, for example, made some contributions to the discussions even though he was back in the UK at the time.  On a related note, I posted some photos on Flickr, and Alex posted many more as well.

WG5 also met last week, although I didn’t personally attend their meeting.  I heard that they had a good turnout too, and worked through tightening up their scope of work, refining the approach they’re taking for the technical report (TR), and other details.  Watch for more information about all of the WG meetings soon.  In the case of WG4, all publicly accessible documents are being made available at https://www.itscj.ipsj.or.jp/sc34/wg4/.

It was a non-stop week, with breakfast discussions, meetings all day (and technical discussions right through lunch and breaks), then continued discussions in the evening over dinner or fine Prague beers.  I had the opportunity to spend time with Ken Holman and learn more about Genericode, CVA, and UBL, and I also met Mohamed Zergaoui for the first time.  Mohamed, who had participated in the DIN report last year as an invited expert, was very active in WG4 (representing France), and on Friday he was appointed the SC34 liaison to the W3C.

WG4 now has all the pieces in place to work through open defect reports in the calls and meetings ahead.  Conference calls will start on April 16, and we’ll have them every two weeks.  We’ll meet again in Copenhagen in June, and then at the next SC34 plenary in September (Seattle). Now is a great time to get involved in IS29500 maintenance, so if you’d like to contribute contact your national body and get involved.  See you in Copenhagen!