Good Standards Work - Bad Public Transparency

I absolutely knew we were going to see a posting like IBM's Rob Weir's latest. There was simply no question about it. My personal opinion is that greater transparency in the dispositions of comments for the Open XML BRM would be a good thing (see, I can agree with IBM occasionally). Brian Jones from Microsoft said the same thing in his blog today. That's nice...doesn't mean a thing because it is not up to Microsoft how that process will be handled. Nor is it up to IBM, nor is it up to Ecma, nor is it up to anyone else other than ISO/IEC JTC 1. Rob seems to think that Microsoft manipulated this outcome - ok...prove it. Please.

The thing that is ironical about this is that Ecma TC 45 is working diligently with The Project Editor and in a disciplined, thorough manner are working through the comments. They are doing good standards work and are seeking to improve the specification based on the comments submitted from national bodies (remember, mostly with comments from IBM - Rob Weir himself no less).

In truth, the process only dictates when the final dispositions document is to be completed. There is no mandate for early sharing of the dispositions. The fact that they are being made available ahead of time is to make sure that the National Bodies have as much time as possible to work through the dispositions. IBM did a great job during the balloting phase launching a veritable denial-of-service attack by flooding the process with the same comments over-and-over. The result is that every comment must be considered, and responded to, from every National Body (by the way, for standards laymen this is not typical. This goes above and beyond what is required, but TC45 and the Project Editor know how much attention is being paid to this spec.). The result is the need to have extra time to consider all of the dispositions.

IBM has membership in National Bodies around the world - they are an extremely mature company when it comes to their standards work, and know darn well who, and what rules, are governing the BRM process. Furthermore, as members of those committees they get to see the comments. In fact, Rob was kind enough to mention that he would be willing to share those comments with other National Bodies. Which, by the way, would seem to be a bit out of line - but that is probably neither here nor there.

As for the ODF process comparison - seems like an Apples to Oranges discussion to me. Ecma and OASIS have different processes - yep, I totally agree. That is a true statement. Also - caution, snarky comment - with all of that transparency Rob, why is it exactly that there was no BRM for ODF, and the comments went entirely un-responded to..oh yea, and that ODF has now progressed so far beyond the ISO ODF 1.0 spec as to be legitimately called a new specification, but has yet to be submitted back to ISO....ok, that is just tit-for-tat and probably useless.

Microsoft respects the process as defined by JTC 1. Full stop. We will continue to work in as constructive a manner as possible with Ecma, the Project Editor, SC 34, and JTC 1.