Some Balanced Statements Regarding The Open XML BRM

I want to highlight a few comments following the close of the BRM in Geneva. The folks highlighted here are balanced, experienced standards professionals. This is not to say that there are not other standards professionals who hold opposite opinions, but I think these two are important voices.

Patrick Durusau – Editor of the OpenDocument Format (ODF) speaking about the BRM.

That point of agreement is that everyone at the table was heard.

Because approval of DIS 29500 insures an effective international and public forum whose members will be heard by Microsoft I recommend approval of DIS 29500 as an ISO standard.

Rick Jelliffe – member of the delegation from Standards Australia. This is from a cached blog entry - he is now blogging much more on process issues.

...the BRM clearly has succeeded in its formal aim, which is to produce a better text. Every response by the editor was formally voted on. The big picture issues were given extra time for detailed discussion, and the NBs had opportunity to raise their highest priority issue, in turn. It would have been great to have had more time to deal with more of the middling issues: where we would have preferred some variant or augmentation of the Editor’s response to our issue or where we didn’t like his answer.

National Standards Bodies:

Norway – national standards body

Every country had the opportunity to put forward their most important comments at the meeting, and most of the Norwegian comments got a good run-through. This goes for instance to the Norwegian proposal on multi-part and “scope” of the separate parts. The meeting was also conducted in an efficient and proper manner according to the instructions and rules for ISO/IEC BRM-meetings. The standards proposal for ISO/IEC 29500 will now be changed by the Editor according to the instructions given during the BRM-meeting.

Denmark - national standards body

The Danish delegations mission to ensure a Danish fingerprint on ISO/IEC DIS 29500 OOXML, and thus improve the standard, was fully accomplished, since all Danish comments have been approved to be worked into ISO/IEC DIS 29500 OOXML.

New Zealand – national standards body (as posted in Computerworld)

“New Zealand proposed significant changes to improve accessibility for the disabled, and also changes to the specification relating to web browser compatibility to ensure compatibility with browsers such as Firefox and Safari, both these proposals were accepted and this was a big win for New Zealand,” said Grant Thomas, Standards New Zealand's chief operating officer

Standards organizations:

Ecma International

Prior to the BRM, several National Body members had offered significant feedback to the DIS 29500 Editor helping to clarify the proposed dispositions of National Bodies comments.

The Ballot Resolution Meeting was a very productive and positive meeting, where National Bodies' representatives worked together very hard, resolving many issues, to come to an improved final DIS 29500 text, which will now be offered to the consideration of all National Bodies participating. National Bodies may consider their final position on ratification until March 29, 2008.

International Standards Organization

The BRM was organized by subcommittee SC 34, Document description and processing languages, of ISO/IEC JTC 1. ISO/IEC JTC 1 is one of the most experienced and productive of ISO and IEC technical committees, having developed some 2 150 widely and globally used international standards and related documents. The BRM was a technical meeting open to delegates that were duly nominated by the ISO and IEC national member bodies and registered for the meeting. The BRM was not intended to be a public event but followed the orderly and inclusive process of ISO and IEC. With the BRM review completed, it is now up to national bodies to determine whether approval of ISO/IEC DIS 29500 is warranted.

My Thoughts:

Okay, I can't help it. First, I'll restate the simple statement that the point of a BRM is to improve the specification. This meeting did that. The BRM was 5 days following 5 months of work in which the project editor and Ecma TC 45 worked with the national bodies on their comments and their dispositions. 98.8% (let's just call it 99%) of the dispositions were adopted by the BRM. The meeting was conducted carefully within the context of JTC 1 rules, and had close oversight by ISO/IEC leadership.

The quotes above show the positive side of the spectrum. There is no doubt that there is another side to the discussion - goodness knows all you have to do is look at the comments to my preceding few blogs. But - the companies most interested in blocking Open XML are now actively lobbying governments around the world to vote no. Strangely enough, those interested in seeing Open XML succeed are doing the same - making their case that voting yes is the right thing to do.

Ah, the drama continues.