ISO release a Press Release confirming that four countries are appealing OOXML approval in ISO. That’s not news, we know it already. This Press Release simply confirm it.
What is interesting, however, is the last paragraph. We have cries that ISO haven’t published OOXML according to its rule. I was not sure what ISO rules are so I had refrained from commenting. After all, “publishing” can mean anything from circulating carbon-copied typed text to selected members (ISO own committee members, National Bodies) that can be created in days to a nicely printed and bounded book that takes months to prepare. ISO have not said it failed its own schedule. It still, in my opinion, have not. What ISO did is to admit that it has not published the standard. It blames it on the appeal process. It says it cannot publish the standard until the appeal process is completed.
On the surface, that sounds fair enough. The standard is being appealed. If we can avoid “repealing” a standard than we should do it. The confusion created by “repealing” a standard is arguably more costly than delaying its publication. Hence, I accept that as soon as an appeal was officially lodged, ISO will not publish the standard until the appeal is resolved.
However, this explanation is flawed when it comes to explaining why we do not see any ISO OOXML publication yet. Unless ISO has the ability to look into the future, it cannot know that there will be an appeal. It can foresee it, in fact, we all foresee it. But as far as ISO machinery is concerned, it has to work as if there is no appeal until the first appeal was officially lodged to it. After all, if no appeals were lodged, then it will be sad that ISO OOXML would not be a ISO standard because of this silly error on ISO part. ISO OOXML passage is by far the most politically charged and most controversial approval. For ISO to add unnecessary problems to this mix of volatile ingredient is unacceptable. In short, the first appeal letter is the “stop work” order. Before that, ISO must continue working according to its own rule, i.e., publish the standard.
So, the crucial date is the day of first appeal. In this case, South African official appeal on 28 May 2008. Unfortunately for ISO, they should had published the standard at least a month ago. Therefore, ISO current explanation does not explain why it is not published for at least a month.
My believe is that there is simply too much changes in the BRM approved OOXML standard that the one month date line is unrealistic, therefore, it was not delivered. What this tell us what we already know, OOXML is not suitable for fast track.