CyberTech Rambler

March 25, 2008

Where voting is necessary

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 10:06 pm

Brian Jones’ post “Out of time” is an attempt to say that the 800+ issues not discussed in the recent BRM is not a big deal. To illustrate his point, he highlighted several points.

It is true that quite a number of comments highlighted contains insufficient information for a response. Others, including those which do not have sufficient information for a response, are probably addressed in other similar or duplicate comments where more information is available and/or in the issues discussed.

A few actually highlighted Microsoft inexperience in preparing a standard documents. For example, China Comment 13: “International markup. i.e., multilingual and localized tags should be supported.” That, to me, is clear enough. One problem with OOXML highlighted well before OOXML applied for Fast Track is precisely this issue. The response of “insufficient information” is not acceptable here. It is not China’s duty to design/modify OOXML schema for OOXML. UK comment 3, definition of words are not as expected, is another example.

Those are minor issues as far as I am concerned. More important are issues that Microsoft/ECMA has responded, but the National Body who summitted the comment disagree. Issue like “UK Comment 9 and 10” should had been discussed in the BRM. It is clear from the comment that the UK is not happy with binary blobs, i.e., those implementation-defined, especially those related to specific implementation choices. Microsoft response is the middle route, i.e., those are optional. Does it satisfy the UK? Will there be a counter-proposal that extract a time frame from Microsoft that it will document those that originated from Microsoft Office in a useable form? (That is not an unreasonable request. After all, to get full compatibility with MSOffice, the aim of OOXML, should require MSOffice not produce undocumented binary blobs. The sentence is particularly long given MS response to EC’s antitrust issue on communication protocol.) Finally, if both side cannot agree, surely this is an issue for discussion and the attendees can and should resolve it by voting? To me, this issue is important. Not only this is how the BRM is suppose to work, it give clarity to whether the anti OOXML argument is it allows implementation-defined terms that interoperability is a fantasy. I note that the response by Microsoft appears to back this up. This is obviously unacceptable to anti-OOXML camp. This is why we need National Bodies’ expertise to make a judgement on whether this is acceptable.

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