Many Eyes on Geneva - Open XML Ballot Resolution Meeting

Well the bubble and churn of press and blogs is just getting going. It is worth mentioning that the process is supposed to be confidential per the rules of JTC 1 (ISO posted a press release today that is worth reading). I know that many delegations are under specific guidance to not blog or discuss outside of the meetings.

The BRM process was designed to promote the improvement of specifications, not to tear them down. I think this is a very important point to keep in mind throughout the week.

DIS 29500 (Open XML) has received unprecedented participation from National Standards Bodies (87 countries) with one of the (if not the) largest BRMs ever (37 countries). There have been specifications with more comments submitted, but none with the deep rigor that 29500 has received.

No matter what happens this week, and in the month following to the close of the ballot amendment, Open XML will be a better specification for all of the work put into it. Ecma 376 has already seen very strong implementation in the marketplace (even from IBM I might add...and across multiple platforms such as Windows, Linux, Palm, iPhone, etc..) based upon the quality of the work already done. With the additional focus on improvement from the JTC 1 process this specification will be even more successful in the marketplace.

In terms of the work being done this week - the delegations will be concerned with the comments that their NSB submitted. They will be considering the proposed dispositions to those comments and on balance what those dispositions mean for the specification. There is no requirement that every single disposition be immediately satisfactory to the NSB. All specifications mature over time and some issues will be outright addressed to the satisfaction of the NSB, some will be referred for further consideration during maintenance of the specification, some may merit debate during the BRM, and some may simply not satisfy the NSB which may lead to the perpetuation of a no or abstain vote. In all cases, the NSB is expected to consider the DIS (draft international standard) in total rather than based upon any single comment/disposition.

Delegations will deliberate most effectively if they believe they are doing so in privacy. The ultimate outcome of their deliberations and their recommendations back to their NSBs will be evident enough following their vote. I noticed that some are encouraging delegates to blog during the BRM. It is unfortunate that a call for "transparency" is being used to create process challenges and disruption in the JTC 1 proceedings. (Of course, setting up a conference in the same hotel as the BRM to draw delegates away from their work is pushing the limits of what is considered normal JTC 1 professional behavior as well, but I won't delve deeper into that one.)

It is going to be an interesting week for certain.