Where is there an end of it? | SC 34 Meetings, Okinawa - Day 0

SC 34 Meetings, Okinawa - Day 0

Okinawan Bloom
It is nice to get away from the freezing drizzle of the UK,
to the milder climes and bright sunshine of Okinawa.

I am in Okinawa for a week of ISO/IEC JTC 1 SC 34 meetings. To be precise, these are not meetings of SC 34 itself (there will be no plenary), rather the week will be taken up with two activities by parts of SC 34:

  • On Monday and Tuesday, a team picked by our Chairman will meet to discuss the maintenance procedures for ODF among themselves, and with OASIS representatives.
  • On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday SC 34’s two new working groups, WG 4 and WG 5, will meet.

These in turn will generate plenty of input for SC 34’s full Prague meeting in March.

ODF Maintenance

I have already written about the background to this activity, both the issues caused by the current lack of agreement on how maintenance should proceed, and JTC 1’s instruction to SC 34 from Nara that SC 34 and OASIS should develop a document specifying “detailed operation of joint maintenance procedures”.

At this stage the negotiations are completely informal, and expected simply to offer an opportunity for all parties to have an open discussion aimed at increasing the level of mutual understanding to a point where they are ready to start working together in earnest on drafting the agreement text. For SC 34, this text will need to be presented to members in time for consideration in Prague, at which meeting it will seek SC 34’s blessing to be passed up to JTC 1 for further consideration.

WG 4 & WG 5

Okinawa will see the first two meetings of our two new working groups, WG 4 (dedicated to maintenance of ISO/IEC 29500, aka OOXML), and WG 5 (dedicated to document file format interoperability). Both groups are expected to meet face-to-face more frequently than the rest of SC 34, and to make heavy use of the newfangled teleconferencing technology that JTC 1 has recently embraced.

WG4’s business in the short term will be largely taken up with correcting defects in the 29500 text (in JTC 1 parlance, producing corrigenda) in response to reported defects. A number of these have been submitted already, by Japan, the UK and Ecma themselves. The UK has a large number on additional ones brewing and is likely to submit a second batch in February.

WG 5’s short-term work is to concentrate on the Technical Report (a more informal document that an International Standard) being drafted which sets out some of the considerations when mapping between ISO/IEC 26300 (ODF 1.0) and ISO/IEC 29500 (OOXML). I’m wondering too whether there will be any moves in this WG to garner support for new work in this area. Now that the dust has settled over document formats themselves, even non XML experts are beginning to grok that by themselves these standards don’t actually give us that much, but are a useful foundation on which to work. “Interoperability” in particular requires so much more than simply having standardised document formats. I await developments in this space with interested anticipation …

Comments (4) -

  • hAl

    1/27/2009 8:54:43 PM |

    The defect i found is the lack of versioning in Office Open XML
    I am unable to identify whether or not the file is ecma-376 1st edition or ecma-376 2nd edition. And I would also like to see on second edition whether the file is created according to strict or transitional validation.

  • Steve

    1/28/2009 12:24:07 AM |

    Unless I've completely got things back-arsewards Smile
    Surely the first item in the UK defect list isn't one. 4660736 bytes rounded becomes 4661kB or 4552KiB, but not in any way should it be 4552kB(IEC 60027-2).

  • Alex

    1/29/2009 12:27:12 PM |


    The versionining problem looks likely to be fixed by the addition of a new @version attribute on document elements.

    I'm told there *is* a mechanism for distinguishing strict vs transitional instances. But I can't find it right at the moment ...

  • Alex

    1/29/2009 12:28:26 PM |


    You are quite right. The UK has boobed. A pearl-handled revolver will be left on a table for us.

    But, it was generally felt that because of user confusion surrounding what "kilobyte" means, it was better to say "thousand bytes" in this text ...

    - Alex.

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