CyberTech Rambler

September 29, 2008

Troubling view of SC34 meeting in Korea

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 12:28 pm

Alex Brown is reporting on SC34 meeting in Korea. While it is nice to see more information on the meeting, the first paragraph on that report troubles me.

“..(and no, there were no Microsoft, IBM or Ecma people at the table)..”

No IBM people was not a surprise. No ECMA nor Microsoft? That is strange. Both are proponent of the standard and appears to be putting on the “Mission Accomplished” banner post ractification. People like me will say this behaviour is entirely predictable and do hope that it goes the way the banner did for George Bush Junior.

“One view was that ODF had served its purpose (to get MS formats out into the open) and should now declare victory before fading away gracefully; another was that OOXML would surely become the default format of the OpenOffice.org suite, and that this would crystallize the real option users had: to use FOSS or commercially-licensed Office packages. I’m not sure I’d go with either of these but still, it was refreshing to get some new perspectives rather than the stale repetitions that have too often characterised the exchanges of the past months.”

I am glad that Brown did not share the views. In my opinion, the war (exchanges in Brown speak) will continue. A lot of participants pariticpate in SC34 because they have a stake in OOXML. Therefore, both views are predictable and self-serving. However, if this was a meeting of ODF,  ODF camp people will say the opposite if given the chance. The first one is insightful. Remember Stuart McKee of Microsoft did the extremely odd declaration that “ODF won”. I thought it is tongue in cheek and if I were to link the these two piece of information together, I can say it is the proof.

Brown last paragraph is going to reignite both ISO Fast Track debate and ODF vs OOXML debate:

“… First because by insisting on timely defect handling SC 34 is compensating for a deficiency of the Fast Track process: the lack of National Body review of the final text.”

I will say this is not an deficiency of Fast Track process. It was intended for text that will not change much. May be one comma here, two sentences here and there where another round of National Body review is not necessary. My view is this is yet another evidence to support the fact that OOXML was not appropriate for fast track.

“Secondly because one of the many problems of the JTC 1 standardisation of ODF in 2006 is the lax maintenance regime, which boils down to OASIS declaring: we’ll fix your reported ODF defects if we want to in our own good time, thank you very much. Partly as a reaction to this SC 34 was determined to hold OOXML’s feet to the fire and make sure the JTC 1 maintenance regime (one of the better processes described by the Directives) was fully applied and that this time, it was got right.”

Rob Weir will probably have a field day from this comment. In ODF’s defense I will say there was not as many issues in ODF adoption as ISO standard. As I understand it, SC34 is a ISO body. Therefore, the problem of ODF slow-to-correct should be levelled at ODF’s corresponding body in ISO. If such a body does not exists, could it be possibly that such a body is not needed? If a comparison is warranted, we need to compare OASIS handling of post ISO ractification issues with that of OOXML in ECMA. In any case, how is SC34 going to correct OOXML without ECMA and Microsoft’s participation? And is there any point in correcting ISO version without correcting ECMA’s? Or is ECMA going to ramp through its OOXML v1.1 through ISO again, completely disregarding anything that SC34 did which does not suit ECMA?

OOXML committee, however, should be congratulated on their keenest to correct defects.

Finally, read the last quoted sentence : “… that this time, it was got right.”. Is this an admission that OOXML process was wrong until now?

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