I’ve been working with XPS for a long time – I started back in 200N (where N is an integer quite a lot less than 5 ;-), way before I came to work for Microsoft – and today (or rather last Thursday) marks a minor milestone in the evolution of the format. It’s no small thing to build a new print pipeline for an operating system of the scale of Windows, and even more to define a format for the print spool system that was not only efficient and high quality but, from the start, was designed from the ground up so that systems other than Windows could implement it. But XPS doesn’t stop there, it also serves as a Page Description Language so that Windows can ‘talk’ efficiently to printers without needing a costly conversion to an intermediate format and it’s also an excellent ‘electronic paper’ format, enabling people to view a document on screen in exactly the same layout as it would print.

Adoption of XPS has been rapid, more so than I think many people, including many people that worked on the format, expected. We’re seeing implementations in printers and scanners that connect the physical paper world to electronic paper workflows via XPS; software applications that view, convert from and publish to XPS; line-of-business applications that use XPS to better integrate with paper; and an emergence of component suppliers that provide core technology for developers to accelerate deliver of solutions that rely in some part on XPS.

So with all that in mind, it’s great news that the General Assembly of Ecma International voted last week to approve the formation of a new technical committee, TC46, to look at the standardization of XPS. The submission that made the proposal to Ecma was cosigned by Autodesk, Inc.; Brother Industries, Ltd.; Canon Inc.; FUJIFILM Corporation; Global Graphics Software Limited; Hewlett-Packard Company; Konica Minolta Holdings, Inc.; Lexmark International, Inc; Microsoft Corporation; Quality Logic Inc.; Ricoh Company, Ltd.; Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.; Software Imaging; Toshiba Corporation; Xerox Corporation and Zoran Corporation. What’s more, TC46 will benefit considerably from having the chair and vice-chair from Global Graphics and Fuji Xerox respectively – both companies which already have a lot of experience in building XPS solutions.

Having seen XPS evolve since the early drafts, with significant input and feedback from many different companies, I’m really looking forward to working with the other members of TC46 and seeing how the collective experience and expertise of the companies represented can shape XPS into a truly world class standard.

For more information, see the Ecma Press Release and the TC46 web page.

Footnote: initially the TC46 page on the Ecma site had some spurious content from TC45 (I’d guess a copy and paste error when starting with the TC45 page as a template, but that’s just a guess :-), the page content has now been corrected