Countries Are Saying Yes To Open XML

***Updated April 2*** - ISO has just confirmed the approval of IS 29500 in a press release. ***Updated end***

It has been a few days since I've had a chance to blog. I've been on the road and that tends to make it harder to find the time to put up posts. I have been pleased to see the fact that countries around the world are either sustaining their "yes" votes or moving to "yes" from either "abstain" or "no."  Again, that is the point of the BRM process (not just the 5 days in Geneva, but the whole 5 month process) - address the concerns raised so that the spec is improved and move on to maintenance (further improvement) over time.

I am cautiously optimistic at this point that the final outcome will be the approval of DIS 29500 as an ISO/IEC standard.

I have to say, it is impressive how much diligent, thoughtful conversation is going on around the world about Open XML. This is based on the fact that technical work on the comments from the Sept. 2 ballot has resulted in a high-quality standard .

Another key factor is the fact that people recognize the broad use of Open XML in the market as seen by the hundreds of independent implementations of Ecma 376. And the literally thousands of customizations of Microsoft's implementation in Office by independent software providers and services providers. Good standards are used...and are used broadly. So the big question about the future of Open XML becomes one of future work on the spec. The reality is, it is in the best interest of the industry and users of implementations of the specification to have DIS 29500 be maintained through the ISO/IEC processes rather than at Ecma alone. (ODF editor Patrick Durusau has made this point as well.)

I had a conversation recently in Japan that reflected this point. There remain concerns in Japan about future interoperability issues particularly for a single Japanese software provider. Okay, valid point and one that is best addressed by having a strong voice in the future of the spec - which will happen through their position in SC34 than if the spec were to fail the ISO/IEC process and fall back to the sole stewardship of Ecma TC 45.

I have not spent time blogging the back and forth of the past few weeks. The FUD campaign and process attacks from the anti-Open XML crowd have become increasingly shrill and not reflective of the truth nor reason. (For example the fear-mongering misdirection on the IP issues.) The whole idea of the standards process is to move forward and improve technology specifications - not rip them down. Open XML is an important document format for the industry. Driving interop through the ISO/IEC process is better for ODF, PDF, CDF, UOF, and any other document format.

Frankly, I'm looking forward to moving beyond this discussion. I started writing about Open XML 2 years ago and have watched the progression carefully. Open XML has been about moving forward, brining the promise of XML into the Office ecosystem and well beyond it through standardization. I am amazed that the anti-Open XML crowd have spent so much time trying to stop something vs. build up their own technologies. (Miguel de Icaza wrote on this recently) Imagine if the time/money put into the anti-Open XML campaign had been put into improvement of ODF and/or OpenOffice? It would seem a better investment.