decoration decoration

When you want to know more...
For layout only
Site Map
About Groklaw
Legal Research
ApplevSamsung p.2
Cast: Lawyers
Comes v. MS
Gordon v MS
IV v. Google
Legal Docs
MS Litigations
News Picks
Novell v. MS
Novell-MS Deal
OOXML Appeals
Quote Database
Red Hat v SCO
Salus Book
SCEA v Hotz
SCO Appeals
SCO Bankruptcy
SCO Financials
SCO Overview
SCO v Novell
Sean Daly
Software Patents
Switch to Linux
Unix Books


Groklaw Gear

Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

You won't find me on Facebook


Donate Paypal

No Legal Advice

The information on Groklaw is not intended to constitute legal advice. While Mark is a lawyer and he has asked other lawyers and law students to contribute articles, all of these articles are offered to help educate, not to provide specific legal advice. They are not your lawyers.

Here's Groklaw's comments policy.

What's New

No new stories

COMMENTS last 48 hrs
No new comments


hosted by ibiblio

On servers donated to ibiblio by AMD.

ISO Statement on the BRM: Public Stay Out - Updated
Wednesday, March 05 2008 @ 01:07 PM EST

The ISO folk have put out a press release about how wonderful the BRM worked out and what happens next. However, it tells us little people to stay out. Here's the operative language:
The BRM was not intended to be a public event but followed the orderly and inclusive process of ISO and IEC. With the BRM review completed, it is now up to national bodies to determine whether approval of ISO/IEC DIS 29500 is warranted.

So much for an open standard. I have a question for the ISO. Have all prior meetings been run like this? In the deepest shade you can find? You know they have not, and I know they have not.

So, how about letting us listen to audio of the meeting, so we can compare claims now coming from all sides? There are so many different accounts, and they don't all sync up. Given that this format, if accepted, will impact us little people, not just a bunch of vendors, how about letting us in enough to make it at least possible to figure out who is telling the truth?

Hey, EU Commission. Did you know that there is reportedly audio made of the BRM meeting?

Here's the meat of the ISO statement:

The purpose of the BRM was to resolve comments submitted by the national member bodies of IEC and ISO on the draft and to reach agreement on proposed modifications arising from these comments with a view to making the document acceptable for publication as an international standard according to IEC/ISO criteria.

No decision or vote on the document as a whole or any part of it was taken at the meeting, but only on proposed changes to it....

At the beginning of the meeting, each national body was invited to raise the issues they considered to be their priority so that these could be discussed during the BRM. When it was apparent that it would not be possible for all comments to be reviewed individually, the meeting discussed and agreed on a voting procedure to decide on the remaining proposed modifications. A total of 43 resolutions, involving dispositions or groups of dispositions, were accepted, most of them unanimously, some by consensus and only four by simple majority; four were refused.

Following the BRM, all 87 national member bodies who voted in the original fast-track ballot have 30 days – until midnight CET on 29 March 2008 – to examine the actions taken in response to the comments and to reconsider their vote if they wish. If the modifications proposed are such that national bodies then wish to withdraw their negative votes, or turn abstentions into positive votes, and the acceptance criteria are then met, the standard may proceed to publication. Otherwise, the proposal will have failed and this fast-track procedure will be terminated. This would not preclude subsequent re-submission under the normal IEC and ISO standards development rules.

The BRM was organized by subcommittee SC 34, Document description and processing languages, of ISO/IEC JTC 1. ISO/IEC JTC 1 is one of the most experienced and productive of ISO and IEC technical committees, having developed some 2 150 widely and globally used international standards and related documents. The BRM was a technical meeting open to delegates that were duly nominated by the ISO and IEC national member bodies and registered for the meeting. The BRM was not intended to be a public event but followed the orderly and inclusive process of ISO and IEC. With the BRM review completed, it is now up to national bodies to determine whether approval of ISO/IEC DIS 29500 is warranted.

In short, I read this as saying they'd like to do this Fast Track their own secretive way. What is there to hide, may I inquire? Sorry, ISO folk, but I think we'd like to hear the audio of the BRM to validate the truthfulness of what is being claimed, partly because we've gotten the distinct impression that Microsoft has stacked the deck.

Update: Here's another voice trying to tell us what happened at the BRM, this time from Brazil, "What We Did in Geneva", despite what he calls 'the Law of Silence':

Since a post on Rob Weir’s blog (a member of the US delegation) about the mapping of the binary data was published today, I’ve already received phone calls and e-mails from Brazilian colleagues who participated in the discussions on the issue in Brazil wondering the reason why Brazil has not submitted a proposal for it at the BRM. This was one of the things that we are committed to do in Geneva, but guys… we just could not make it.

The mapping is nothing more than a document that explains how to correctly translate the data stored in the old format (binary data as .doc, .xls and .ppt files) to the new proposed format (.docx, .xlslx and .pptx). The importance of this is that several document converters can generate more similar documents, reflecting adequately the old data in the new format. In addition, this document provides a clear identification of attributes that can not be translated (for technical reasons) and that must be preserved. All this is part of the most basic idea of OpenXML, an editable documents format (such as ODF) that support the legacy (the ECMA argues that this “legacy support” is what differentiates it from ODF and therefore makes it necessary). By the way, ODF is already an approved ISO standard (ISO/IEC 26.300).

Seeing that I cannot comment any details about the meeting, I cannot explain the details of what happened but I have the duty to respond to those who worked with the theme here in Brazilian NB (ABNT): “They didn’t allowed Brazil to present its proposal about the mapping.”

I cannot tell the details of the meeting, but I can tell a conversation we’ve had (myself and another Brazilian delegate) with a person, at the beginning of the lunch break on Friday. I will disclose this conversation because the person has identified himself as a member of the ECMA, a member of a national delegation present at the BRM but didn’t said that he was speaking on behalf of anyone (the protocol used there), so I understand that this was a conversation that is not covered by the scandalous “Law of Silence” imposed on us all.

This person tried in saying that believes that we should not submit our proposal that asked the mapping, since there was no time at the meeting (just over three hours) to write the mapping document. We’ve said that our proposal stemmed from the premise that the ECMA had this document because they justifies “the need” of OOXML because it supports the binary documents legacy and it is also stated that there are still things that can not be translated (deprecated), they should have thoroughly studied this and at least have made the mapping.

I have never seen a person so nervous and ashamed in my life… He said that Microsoft should have this mapping and if we want, we can ask it to Microsoft but not ask it to ECMA. He said that ECMA was only responsible for creating the new XML schema and who do not have this mapping documentation.

As our conversation was not going to nowhere, I explained him that our proposal was the result of the work of a committee in Brazil and unfortunately that if he could not come back in time and to tell this story throughout Brazil, we would have to insist with our proposal.

I described this issue here, because hey didn’t allowed Brazil to present the proposal…

If the ECMA not have the mapping, can someone there explain to me:

1 - How can they assure that OpenXML is 100% compatible with the legacy?

2 - How can they assure that OpenXML is not a 100% overlap with ODF, if they didn’t studied thoroughly the legacy support?

3 - How do they assure that there are “deprecated” elements that can not be translated into XML and “shall” be kept?

4 - How can they force the whole world to lose a year, millions of dollars and time for many people, that would be more productive doing other things, to discuss such a proposal, if the most elementary basis of it is real solid?

Finally, as a protest, an excerpt from a music of Peter Gabriel, about Steve Biko:

”You can blow out a candle, but you can’t blow out a fire”

What relief… Tonight I’ll sleep my first night in peace with my conscience since Friday…

And Brian Jones says this on his blog:

For the past two months, Ecma officially held 4 calls per week where national bodies could discuss the comments, and Ecma could explain their proposed resolutions. This meant that by the time we got to the BRM, the countries had time to find which Ecma responses they were not quite satisfied with, and raise those issues at the BRM. The purpose of this entire process is to make improvements to the specification, which in turn may lead countries to change their vote on whether or not they approve the overall spec.

This whole process is so steeped with secrecy, he could say they all met on the moon the first day of each week, and who could say it isn't so? But some questions do pop up. For example, was this with all NBs? Just a limited number Ecma/Microsoft wanted to lobby? Were results of these discussions made known to all? If this went on for two months, that's 32 calls. Who attended? Who didn't? Where is the record of those meetings? Is this the process anticipated in the ISO Directives? He says some other things that have my eyebrows up in the air:

98% of Ecma responses approved – This was very important. The Ecma responses consisted of a number of changes to the specification in order to address the concerns raised by various countries. These were issues that one or more countries felt were problematic in the spec, so it was important to make sure the feedback from those countries were heard, and that the spec was modified to address those concerns. Most people at the BRM that I talked to agreed that without question, the changes proposed by Ecma made the spec better. Voting to approve a comment means that you feel the spec is better with the change than without. This is why it would have been odd to see the changes voted down, which would have meant countries felt the spec was better before the change....

More changes were proposed at the BRM – There were a number of issues where folks wanted to see the proposed changes go further....I'll now list some examples of these changes.

Transitional and Strict conformance – A number of folks weren't comfortable with the deprecated annex, and wanted us to go much further. So a few countries, with the help of Ecma folks came up with a new proposal where there would be two types of functionality: transitional, and strict. Conformance is defined in terms of transitional and strict, and there are even two versions of the schemas (transitional and strict). All of the legacy features that we had previously marked as deprecated, will instead now move into a new part called transitional. If you are going to create a strict document, than you are not able to use any of the transitional features (legacy compat settings; VML; old date bases; etc.)....

It was a chance for everyone to discuss additional things they wanted to see done with the spec, and also to meet those folks who will probably be involved in the next version of the spec as it enters into maintenance (assuming it is approved this month).

Everyone? A chance for everyone to discuss additional things? How about Malaysia? Brazil? Who might those people be who will probably be "involved in the next version of the spec as it enters into maintenance mode"? Might NBs like to know *before* they vote?

Finally, to make our collection complete, here's the agenda for the BRM.


ISO Statement on the BRM: Public Stay Out - Updated | 334 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Can't Change Positive Votes?
Authored by: John Hasler on Wednesday, March 05 2008 @ 01:12 PM EST
> If the modifications proposed are such that national bodies
> then wish to withdraw their negative votes, or turn
> abstentions into positive votes, and the acceptance
> criteria are then met, the standard may proceed to
> publication.

This could be interpreted as implying that positive votes cannot be withdrawn
and that abstentions cannot be turned into negative votes.

IOANAL. Licensed under the GNU General Public License

[ Reply to This | # ]

Corrections here please
Authored by: Alan(UK) on Wednesday, March 05 2008 @ 01:12 PM EST
Please put correction in title so that PJ can find it.

Microsoft is nailing up its own coffin from the inside.

[ Reply to This | # ]

News Picks Discussions here.
Authored by: gjleger on Wednesday, March 05 2008 @ 01:13 PM EST
Please quote the article in your comment title.

[ Reply to This | # ]

OT, the Off topic thread
Authored by: gjleger on Wednesday, March 05 2008 @ 01:14 PM EST

[ Reply to This | # ]

ISO Statement on the BRM: Public Stay Out
Authored by: Latesigner on Wednesday, March 05 2008 @ 01:16 PM EST

I feel like reaching for the tin foil but if Microsoft wanted ISO out of the way
seeing to it that they discredited themselves wasn't a bad way to go about it.

The only way to have an "ownership" society is to make slaves of the rest of us.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Do NBs read PR?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 05 2008 @ 01:28 PM EST
All National Bodies need to be made aware of the contents
of this press statement. After all the Greek delegation at least
claimed to be unaware that they were entitled to discuss
ECMA "resolutions" of other NB's comments.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: AJWM on Wednesday, March 05 2008 @ 01:33 PM EST
Okay, is "midnight CET on 29 March 2008" the same as 24:00 CET or
00:00 CET? In other words, is it the midnight between March 29th and 30th, or
the midnight between March 28th and 29th?

Is there an ISO standard for that?

[ Reply to This | # ]

ISO Statement on the BRM: Public Stay Out
Authored by: Rooks on Wednesday, March 05 2008 @ 01:59 PM EST
I believe its been suggested before, but just for clarification, I propose two
possible outcomes:

If DIS25900 is passed, it becomes an ISO standard and MS rejoices and proceeds
to cause terror and angst all over the office suite world with a now
"holy" format, thus ending freedom everywhere and "enabling
choice". ISO will also be praised by MS and all bad press about allegedly
shoddy rules or policies and execution of such removed from the public eye, thus
validating ISO standardization and the "holy" format.

If DIS25900 is not passed, ISO will be left to flounder, having been
cannonballed by the biggest bully in the sea, and be billed as a horrible
committee run by incompetents who can't get things right, and any standards
passed by them are probably really bad, because who knows what else happened in
past "secret meetings." Therefore ISO standards should not be
trusted, which (oh by the way) includes ODF.
So why not use a format (msooxml) that is not covered in the mire and stigma of
a failed standards body that wasn't "robust" enough to take care of
todays technology? And while someone will help create a new standards body that
is capable of helping us all....

Now I'm freaking myself out.


If experience was so important, we'd never have had anyone walk on the moon.
~Doug Rader

[ Reply to This | # ]

How about a letter to the ISO headquarters ???
Authored by: Totosplatz on Wednesday, March 05 2008 @ 02:04 PM EST
Maybe if everyone who is offended by this farce wrote an actual letter, signed
by hand, and sent to ISO headquarters, they might begin to get the notion that
the whole world is watching.

I have found a mailing address, but I am not certain it is correct, and I am
fairly certain that PJ wouldn't want an address published here anyway.



Greetings from Zhuhai, Guangdong, China; or Portland, Oregon, USA (location

All the best to one and all.

[ Reply to This | # ]

As Douglas Adams might have put it...
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 05 2008 @ 02:07 PM EST
this must be some strange usage of the word "orderly" that I wasn't
previously aware of.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Current state of DIS 29500
Authored by: heretic on Wednesday, March 05 2008 @ 02:10 PM EST
What is the current state of DIS 29500? Is it actually possible to implement it
after a number of changes and half-changes considered and proposed by the BRM?
Is it now a coherent specification, or is it just big mess?

I seem to remember that proposed changes to the date/time specification (by the
Greek delegation) could not be accepted, as date/time was specified in more than
one place. If similar problems are found for the other issues, then the current
version will be basically unworkable.

[ Reply to This | # ]

ISO Statement on the BRM: Public Stay Out - Updated
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 05 2008 @ 03:04 PM EST
I trust Malaysia, Brazil and other NBs that have these issues not only comlain
loudly, in public, but make their feelings VERY clear to ISO. They need to be
clear that their vote will be NO and stick to it.


[ Reply to This | # ]

why is SC34 completely blank on the website too?
Authored by: designerfx on Wednesday, March 05 2008 @ 03:39 PM EST
I was just looking over at
(tinyurl link = - you must hit proceed if you
trust that the link is the same). That is the SC34 area.
this link is for the general subcommittee list.
(tiny'd preview again - )

In SC34 there is not a single document. In some of the standards, there are
documents in the public folder section. Is this normal for subcommittees?

I don't mean to hype this up, I mean this purely from an inquisitive

After further digging, I found a link here about the FAQ for the BRM meeting
which discusses the phonecalls someone mentioned pre-meeting: the 4th comment or

I'm more concerned about this comment too: "4.4 Will certain NBs’ comments
be given priority?
The JTC 1 Directives do not allow for prioritisation of comments. However,
the Convener of the BRM may organise the review of comments so as to maximise
the chances of producing an improved quality text.
4.5 What if there is not time in the meeting to satisfy NBs’ concerns?
If NBs find the outcome of the BRM inadequate then their recourse is to
disapprove the DIS."

Isn't this what Brazil is saying didn't happen?

Also, about the P vs O members voting: " Who are “P” members for the
purposes of voting?
In all voting on the DIS 29500 fast track, “P-members” means P-members of
JTC 1 (who voted as such in the 2 September ballot), not P-members of SC 34 or
any other ISO/IEC committees."

Was this breached with the voting schema?

All of this taken from:

[ Reply to This | # ]

A word to the National Bodies
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 05 2008 @ 03:57 PM EST

You are in control, not the "ISO chairman". If you feel you are being railroaded, all you have to do when asked for your vote on whether or not OOXML becomes a standard is vote:

You are representatives of:
  1. Your Countries!
  2. The consumers of those countries!
  3. The businesses of those countries!
Don't let a single business force you into making a decision you do not want to do. The total voices of you all can easily tell that single business NO! It will send a clear message to any others who may wish to railroad you into a decision.

Don't abstain as that's a message that will tell others who wish to railroad you into making a decision in their favor that they can succeed at freezing you if not convincing you to vote them in.

Just say NO!


[ Reply to This | # ]

ISO outdated
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 05 2008 @ 03:58 PM EST
I think it's time for a new, truly open, transparent and unbiased standards
body. It turned out, that the ISO as standards body does not fulfil neccessary
standards itself.


[ Reply to This | # ]

The "Law of Silence"
Authored by: bmcmahon on Wednesday, March 05 2008 @ 04:36 PM EST
Would you call that "ISOmerta"?

[ Reply to This | # ]

It will be passed, one way or another
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 05 2008 @ 05:04 PM EST
Microsoft's proposal will be passed, one way or another. Even if all the comments have to be addressed, Microsoft can simply address them, after which there are no longer any technical reasons to oppose it. Once it is passed, Microsoft (via ECMA) is responsible for "maintenance", which means they can twist and fold the standard into anything they want afterwards.

The problem many opponents have is that they are looking at the letter of the standards process, and not the spirit of it. A written standard by itself is not enough. There has to be good will and effort by all parties implementing it. Those things simply aren't present in the largest possible implementor (Microsoft). The best standard in the world isn't going to help us with that.

In the end, Microsoft will have their "standard", which will be of little use to anyone other than as marketing fodder which they can file with their TCO studies. People who want to be Microsoft customers will use Microsoft Office, standard or no standard. Meanwhile, the part of the world that actually cares about vendor independence can go on with implementing ODF.

Many people would like Microsoft to support ODF. I think that would actually be a bad thing at this time. Until there is a large enough base of existing ODF documents which everyone needs to be compatible with, any Microsoft implementation of ODF would be the gold standard regardless of what the official standard might state. ODF would simply become "Microsoft ODF". It would be much better for ODF to establish itself in the market through its use by people who are actually willing to put out some good will and effort. The only real solution to the standards problem is for Microsoft Office to become irrelevant to enough people. Microsoft isn't going to reform itself just because someone wrote a standard.

This doesn't mean that the opposition to OOXML is a waste of effort. It is important for the future to reveal to everyone just what went on here. As I said above, standards by themselves mean little without good will and effort, so people need to see that the good will was lacking and the only effort expended was that spent on lobbying. Microsoft's victory can be turned into a pyrrhic one if the standard is shown to be worthless and the process a farce.

The real battle will come later. That will be the battle to erode Microsoft's market share to the point where people don't see their document format (whatever it happens to be at the time) as being the "de facto standard". Trying to work with Microsoft however is an effort which is doomed to failure, even if we still must go through the motions. Until they have been sufficiently humbled, they are not going to change their ways.

[ Reply to This | # ]

ooxml has a lemon fresh scent
Authored by: kawabago on Wednesday, March 05 2008 @ 05:05 PM EST
It looks increasingly like Microsoft doesn't really care whether or not the
standard is approved because to Microsoft an ISO Standard is just a marketing
ploy. Like a lemon fresh scent in dish detergent, ooxml is not a real feature
or a goal for Microsoft's product but merely a marketing ploy. Next season it
will be something else. I say this because Microsoft has already stated that
they will not be implementing the ISO standard ooxml even if it is approved, so
there will never be an implementation of ooxml beyond Word's current version.
Therefore the standardization doesn't mean squat to Microsoft.

[ Reply to This | # ]

ISO Statement on the BRM: Public Stay Out - Updated
Authored by: N_au on Wednesday, March 05 2008 @ 05:29 PM EST
Haven't you all worked it out yet? Silly! Didn't you know there were two, count
em 2 meetings in Geneva. One for everyone who would vote yes and one for those
who were opposed. They can't tell you this cause it is so secretive. This is how
it must be because they all can't be talking about the same meeting.

[ Reply to This | # ]

More on the EU ISO investigation.
Authored by: Brian S. on Wednesday, March 05 2008 @ 07:15 PM EST

Officials at the European Commission's competition directorate have written to members of the International Organisation for Standardisation, asking how they prepared for votes in September and later this month on acceptance of Microsoft's OOXML document format as a worldwide standard...In its letter, sent out before the Geneva meeting the Commission noted press reports had alleged irregularities in several countries over the OOXML standardisation proposal, and accusations of attempts to influence voting.

It asked standards organisations for views on these charges and any supporting details. It was unclear yesterday how many standards organisations worldwide had been contacted by the Commission. However, several national organisations in Europe confirmed they had received the Commission letter. Some national bodies have admitted they are reviewing their own membership rules... The Financial Times

Brian S.

[ Reply to This | # ]

ISO Statement on the BRM: Public Stay Out - Updated
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 05 2008 @ 07:25 PM EST
I guess this shows, even though ISO was saying it went great, the call for
public to stay out is a clear show that ISO is ashamed of what happened, only
that they do not want to say that directly.

[ Reply to This | # ]

If they want it to be a private meeting ...
Authored by: devil's advocate on Wednesday, March 05 2008 @ 07:53 PM EST
then let it be a private standard. They can use it for their own documents, not
foist it on all of us afterwards. "Oh, by the way, I know we didn't let you
contribute to this at the time, but this is a standard we expect you to use

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 05 2008 @ 09:47 PM EST
You can't fast track a six thousand page standard attempting to define what
millions of lines of code does.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Public Stay Out
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 05 2008 @ 10:24 PM EST
Yes, Microsoft should stay out.....

[ Reply to This | # ]

What is missing from the agenda.
Authored by: PolR on Thursday, March 06 2008 @ 12:17 AM EST
I notice PJ has include a link to the BRM agenda to complete her file.

I notice the agenda describe the process of asking one comment per NB in
alphabetical order of the countries until time runs out. It did not include any
provision on changing the modus operandi when time runs out. This was dropped on
the participants on Wednesday without warning.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Standard with NO implementations
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, March 06 2008 @ 12:18 AM EST
I wonder...
Microsoft and/or ISO may end up updating the standard with all of the open
It would be amusing, and ironic, that the implmentation that Microsoft already
has in Office (whatever version) is not a reference implementation of the
I suspect that this would be the case for a long time to come, since the
product, and the standard, are still in flux.
Is it a standard if nobody has a 'true' implementation of the standard? Is it a
standard if nobody can implement the standard (because of contradictions and/or
What happens to a standard over time if nobody fully implements it?
I would suspect that other implementors (theoretically open source but Microsoft
does not want that) would be able to do a better implementation than Microsoft.
Just look at their prototype non-Windows Microsoft operating system that is
being used to 'prove' that Microsoft can not implement a non-Windows operating
system - and so there is no sense in trying. [
Microsoft playws with new non-Windows Operating System]

[ Reply to This | # ]

So does Microsoft basically own ISO now or what?
Authored by: billyskank on Thursday, March 06 2008 @ 03:41 AM EST
I mean, are there any officials left at ISO who are actually the least bit
bothered about what Microsoft has turned the organisation into?

I don't know if "enquiring minds want to know," but mine certainly
does. I want to know if there is longer any point to the International Standards

It's not the software that's free; it's you.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The resolutions and notes of the BRM have been published
Authored by: Alan Bell on Thursday, March 06 2008 @ 04:19 AM EST
A seen on A lex Brown's blog
here are the edited notes of the meeting not sure what "edited" means, doesn't seem redacted.
And here are the resolutions of the meeting

[ Reply to This | # ]

PJ: Contact European Commission's competition directorate
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, March 06 2008 @ 04:20 AM EST
Hey, EU Commission. Did you know that there is reportedly audio made of the BRM meeting?
If you want to make the European Commission's Competition Directorate aware of this I think it is better to contact them directly, instead of shouting "Hey" :-)

See mm/competition/index_en.html on the right for contact information.

[ Reply to This | # ]

OOXML BRM was an Unqualified Success
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, March 06 2008 @ 12:28 PM EST

[ Reply to This | # ]

ISO Statement on the BRM: Public Stay Out - Updated
Authored by: hamstring on Thursday, March 06 2008 @ 12:52 PM EST
The sad part is that the ISO looses respect for all of this. Who is going to
respect the ISO standard when it takes nothing but a fat check from a company to
make one?

On the plus side, if OOXML does become "standard", does not imply that
it is a used standard. Lets face it.. Look at how many ISO standards there are,
compared to what is used and practical.


I wrote 10 lines of HTML and checked the file in OpenOffice. It looked good, so
I saved the file. Just for giggles, I opened the file in Microsoft Office 2007.
The same page looked okay, and I hit save and close without thinking. I went
to access the page afterward, and was dumbfounded that the page now looked
different. I went back, and looked at what M$ Office did to the 10 lines of
HTML, and to my surprise it saved as 6 files, 1 directory, and over 700 lines of
XML/HTML in Microsoft office 2007.

As a developer, guess which product I'd choose to use? (and no, I'm not an HTML
developer, but occasionally need to make HTML pages).

Even if OOXML is an ISO standard, I'll choose to use ODF or W3C as my ISO
standard, and an application that writes those formats. DO I really want to go
fishing through 800 lines and numerous files for what is 10 lines of HTML in any
other editor?

# echo "Mjdsptpgu Svdlt" | tr [b-z] [a-y]
# IANAL and do not like Monopoly

[ Reply to This | # ]

I'm not so sure, anymore.
Authored by: Ian Al on Thursday, March 06 2008 @ 02:02 PM EST
I started off by feeling outraged by the OOXML BRM activities, but I think I got it all wrong. As I understand it, Alex Brown's job was to get the very best text produced from the technical point of view to go forward to the final fast-track vote. He had the impossible task of dealing with 500 distinct technical text changes and he had to either get the changes accepted, with or without agreed modifications or have the changes scrapped and the original (probably unacceptable, for many) text going forward. He would have failed if he did not pass some sort of text on for a final consideration and vote and just tried to abort the fast-track process.

I reversed the situation. Let's imagine that OOXML was already a standard and it was ODF going through the BRM process. The reason that we want the BRM to get as many technical improvements agreed as possible is to get it made a standard because we just cannot live with the OOXML standard. If Alex Brown had said that 500 changes was impossible and he declared the fast-track process failed we would have been outraged. We would have said that he should at least given it the chance of the vote by letting the original text through unchanged. If he had just said that all undiscussed text was either accepted as a whole or rejected as a whole, then the membership would have said no account of their views had been made. Alex Brown's solution was, perhaps, the only approach that would have satisfied both us and the members. Perhaps he might have had a go at prioritising those text changes that were most crucial in producing a text that had the best chance of success, but that would have required him to decide what technically was important. I think that shortage of time, the impossibility of getting agreement on the priorities and the implication that Alex Brown would have to take a technical position on the changes all makes such an approach subject to criticism and failure. Lets suppose that the discussion was fully public and open. Microsoft could warn that the changes proposed would potentially conflict with their software patents and thus inflict FUD on the BRM. Microsoft could also lean on their paided P members to reject the changes that gave ODF the greatest chance. Best to keep this technical discussion phase secret to limit external influence. We find this approach unnatural because we are used to open discussion throughout the process because all the contributors are willing the controversy to be resolved and the bugs to be squished.

There is the issue that, if our ODF document was 6000 pages long, we would probably not bothered to even try to fast-track it and would have resigned ourselves to the snail-trail process.

It is important for the next stage that it is fully apparent what changes have been made to the proposed text and for any and all discussion about agreement over standardisation to be public.

ISO must reflect the sum of the national interests of all the individual countries. I think the Australian government has been deficient because, as I understand it, it chose a commercial company to represent its standards interests and did not ensure that the representation was always in the national interest. Those other country groups who allowed Microsoft to pack the committees and apply for P membership just to (arguably) expedite Microsoft's business interests are similarly at fault. They damage the interests of any countries that get the process largely right. ISO were deficient in agreeing to automatically accept a 6000 page proposed standard into the fast-track process from a trade organisation. There should be a rigorous process of review before any proposal is fast-tracked based on the feasibility of creating an acceptable standard within the process. Anything that is likely to fail that test should be put back for the full standards process. Questions about whether a proposal is a necessary addition to the list of standards and whether the actual proposal is appropriate is best left to the final vote.

Ian Al

When nothing else makes sense, use Linux.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Groklaw © Copyright 2003-2013 Pamela Jones.
All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective owners.
Comments are owned by the individual posters.

PJ's articles are licensed under a Creative Commons License. ( Details )