I'm heading home from Norway in the morning, but wanted to give a quick update on the progress made over the past few days. I was attending the SC34 meetings in Oslo and there was a good amount of focus on document format standards (SC34, as designated by JTC1, is the maintenance body for Open XML). In the meetings, we had some great discussions around the next steps for ISO/IEC IS29500 (Open XML), as well as 26300 (ODF), and the topic of interoperability/harmonization. Today was the day that all the resolutions were accepted, and they are now public: http://www.itscj.ipsj.or.jp/sc34/open/1025.htm

I think Alex Brown covers it best, as he declared on his blog: ISO committee takes full control of OOXML

Three new working groups

SC34 was thinking about how to best handle the evolution of document format standards, and intends to create three new working groups to be created within SC34. The first working group would work on Open XML; the second would work on ODF; and the third would work on interoperability/harmonization between document format standards: http://www.itscj.ipsj.or.jp/sc34/open/1025.htm#Res4

I think that a number of folks have been interested in how the work will be handled now that Open XML has been transferred from Ecma to SC34, and I think you'll be pleased to see the public resolutions made at the meeting.

SC34 decided to start by first organizing the working group for Open XML, and in order to do so the following two ad hoc groups will be established:

Ad Hoc Group 1

This group will be led by Alex Brown, and the goal will be to create the official working group for the Open XML formats. There will be regular phone meetings over the next 6 months as well as a face to face meeting in the summer. It is expected that the structure of the working group they establish will also serve as a template for a working group to manage the ODF formats (should OASIS agree to pass maintenance on to ISO). Here's some background on the creation of Ad Hoc Group 1:

"SC 34 is the JTC 1 designated maintenance body for ISO/IEC 29500 (Office Open XML file formats).

The passage of ISO/IEC 29500 has instituted a new era of standards activity in SC 34 related to document formats. ISO/IEC 29500 does not represent an isolated phenomenon, since SC 34 is also responsible for ISO/IEC 26300 and for interoperability between these and other projects.

SC 34 envisages the creation of three distinct working groups that meet the needs of:

  1. ISO/IEC 29500
  2. ISO/IEC 26300
  3. Work on interoperability/harmonization between document format standards and wishes to incorporate existing expertise on these standards.

For these reasons, SC 34 hereby establishes an ad hoc group pursuant to the JTC 1 Directives, clause 2.6.2, for investigating how the first of these groups may be set up most effectively."

Ad Hoc Group 2

This group will be led by Murata Makoto, and will try to quickly set up an infrastructure for collecting feedback on the Open XML standard. There has been a lot of progress made over the past year, and since there are still open issues that have not been fully addressed, they don't want to lose any of that information. The goal is also to use these same tools for allow for public comments to be submitted, and for the public to follow along with the comment resolution process. This work will then feed directly into the working group established by ad hoc group 1. Here's a bit more info on this group:

  • "Definition of the task:
    • To define and put into operation a mechanism to compile a list of comments on ISO/IEC 29500 received from NBs, liaisons, and the general public.
    • To publish the on-going list as an open document on the SC 34 website.
  • Time frame: The collection mechanism is to become operational within 90 days from the end of the April 2008 ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 34 plenary. Once this is operational, collection will continue until a long-term maintenance process is operational.
  • Membership: Open to ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 34 P and O members, liaison organizations, and subgroup representatives.
  • Convener: Makoto Murata (JP).
  • Meeting arrangements: Work will be handled primarily by email, with optional telephone conference calls at dates and times to be announced."

Ecma's participation

Another important decision was that SC34 will seek to preserve the knowledge from TC45 members and will invite TC45 to fully participate in both Ad Hoc Group 1, Ad Hoc Group 2, and any future working group that is involved in the maintenance of IS29500:

"ISO/IEC DIS 29500 (Office Open XML file formats) has received the necessary number of votes for approval as an ISO/IEC International Standard. SC34 recognizes that Ecma TC45 members have in-depth knowledge, technical expertise on ISO/IEC 29500 and will seek to preserve and allow for inclusion of this existing body of technical expertise in SC34. SC34 therefore invite Ecma TC45 members to attend and fully participate in ISO/IEC JTC 1 SC 34 Ad Hoc Group 1, ISO/IEC JTC 1 SC 34 Ad Hoc Group 2 as well as in any future working group that will be dedicated to the maintenance of ISO/IEC 29500. SC34 intends to organize an efficient and timely process for maintaining and handling new work items to insure the evolution of the standard in following the JTC 1 Directives."

Interoperability/Harmonization

The DIN Delegate (DIN is the German national standards body) presented an update on the work that they have been doing around translation between the Open XML formats and ODF. I've discussed this a number of times before as being a key piece of the harmonization work.

DIN presented this to SC34 because they are going to propose a new work item within SC34 and are currently in the process of asking other countries to join them in this work. We were informed that AFNOR (France's national standards body) already told DIN that they will work together. It really seems to me that we are seeing some great movement and momentum on interop between formats led both by the thinking within SC34 of creating a new WG on interop and also clearly by this latest initiative of DIN and AFNOR.

Busy Week

As you can see it was a busy week, but we continue to make great progress. I said in my last post how much I was looking forward to working with the folks in SC34, and this meeting just reaffirmed those beliefs.

-Brian