The Open XML Ballot Resolution Meeting (BRM) Was An Unqualified Success

The DIS 29500 ballot resolution meeting (BRM) finished up in Geneva today and was an unqualified success by any measure. A few things need to be kept top of mind as national bodies solidify their position within the next 30 days:

A BRM is about technical work on the remaining open issues most important to participating national standards bodies

  • Many issues raised by national bodies can be addressed in advance of the BRM through the proposed dispositions of the submitting organization and, in some cases, discussions between the national bodies and the submitter.  This happened with Open XML, where national bodies identified many issues that were addressed to their satisfaction before the BRM started.
  • The BRM is an opportunity to discuss the remaining issues of importance to national bodies. 
  • The convener, Alex Brown, with the help of ISO/IEC and SC34 officers, ran a very successful BRM.
  • During the meeting, each delegation was given the opportunity to identify those issues most important to them thus defining the scope of work for the BRM. The BRM focused on building consensus on significant remaining technical issues and, in many cases, resulted in modifications to the proposed dispositions to refine and improve them.
  • By the end of the BRM, national bodies were able to consider for their approval each proposed disposition.  The vast majority of those proposed dispositions were adopted, resulting in a better specification that will better meet the interests of national bodies and the broader community.

Extensive steps were taken within the last year to improve Open XML through work with national standards bodies (and their participants) within the inclusive framework of ISO/IEC processes.

  • The Project Editor and Ecma TC-45 reached out to NSBs for ongoing input to the disposition process. Their valuable input was influential in the generation of the dispositions and that is why such overwhelmingly positive consensus was achieved during the BRM.
  • Conference calls, meetings, progress reports, early postings of dispositions, the full report on Jan 14...all of this was done as the groundwork for the BRM. And this was on top of the preceding 7 months of extensive technical engagement by the working groups and committees within the NSBs. Because of this, there were no "surprise" issue to be dealt with. And without question, the specification was improved based on the diligent feedback of NSBs from around the world.

A BRM is successful if it produces technical improvements to the specification to address comments raised during the ballot phase.

  • There were no “surprises” or "new comments" during this process. Every issue addressed was the result of the past 2+ years of work on the specification, and in particular the past 5 months of intensive work leading into the BRM.
  • During the course of the meeting, much effort was put forward in order to come to consensus on those issues that were the most heavily discussed over the duration of the past year.  The types of issues discussed during the BRM are represented here
  • The changes adopted (and denied) were based on consensus among all National Bodies. This is exactly how BRMs are meant to function. I'll say it again - by any rational measure of ISO/IEC JTC 1 ballot resolution meetings, this one was a complete success.

ISO/IEC standards are not only technically sound, but they should also be relevant to the marketplace.

  • DIS 29500, as improved through the rigorous review of the past year and the decisions made by delegations during the BRM, is a specification that meets both bars of technical quality and marketplace relevance.
  • Independent implementations of the specification are already available on most major operating systems platforms and in hundreds of applications. The statement that Open XML is about a single vendor is specious and empirically false.
  • Open XML has brought more attention to, and interest in, international standardization than any specification in the history of the ICT industry. The reason for this is simple - greater openness in all document formats (not just Open XML) is a good thing for everyone. There is general recognition that there will be broad adoption of this format around the world. Open XML delivers on that promise and is part of the rich ecosystem of open document formats that are driving this issue forward.
  • At the end of the day, customers should be able to choose the format(s) that best meet their needs and should not be told which technology to use.  Open XML, as improved through the hard work of national bodies over the past year, is an attractive alternative for them.

There was an unprecedented number of delegations from national standards bodies that came to Geneva and participated in the BRM. I have the utmost respect for the contributions from all of the national bodies (P-members and O-members alike). The result of this week's discussions, by any reasonable measure, has greatly improved the specification and produced a great result. The BRM was a complete success - congratulations to all who were involved with it.