OOXML ballot comments 
2007-09-09, 10:46
The DIS 29500 ballot comments have been published on the SC34 web site (ZIP of Word documents).

Glancing through them, I am struck by how much is word-for-word identical between countries. Maybe countries shared comments (and certainly the open Wiki for UK comments may have been a source), or maybe some of the larger multi-national organisations reviewing DIS 29500 fed their pooled comments down to many different nations. Ultimately, though, the source of comments does not matter; what matters is whether they have technical merit.

Ecma, faced with the unenviable task of handling these comments, will need to de-duplicate them. My impression is that this will reduce the headline figure of “thousands” of comments to “hundreds”. I suspect the majority of these will probably prove resolvable without contention (indeed Ecma's own submission of around 80 comments already points in this direction). This will leave us with “scores” of comments, some of which could prove decidedly thorny. France's proposal, for example, that a core subset of OOXML is extracted for harmonisation with ODF, is unlikely to go through on the nod. And some types of comments, in the legal/IPR domain (demanding disclosure of patent information, for example) will need to be addressed in forums other than the BRM, which is concerned with creating the text of a technical specification, not a legal document.

When “Yes” means “No”?

One curiosity of the ballot results is the degree of skepticism accompanying the votes of approval. Normally an approval vote in an ISO ballot means that the technical content has been approved. However, some of the comments accompanying approval votes look to me like they crave resolution. Indeed, Greece has gone so far as to accompany its approval vote with the following statement:

If the Ballot Resolution Group fails to resolve satisfactorily the issues, then ELOT will reconsider its position and may cast a vote of disapproval during the BRG meeting(s) according to article 13.8 of the JTC1 directives, or may even appeal to the final adoption of the Standard.

This introduces a complication for the BRM. As convenor, one of my responsibilities is to run the meeting in a such a way that it maximises the chances of approving a text. One natural way of doing this is to de-prioritise comments that accompanied an approval vote, on the basis that those countries are already happy with the text. However, for Greece this evidently isn't an accurate assumption – and the same may be true of other countries too. I need to find out which ...
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