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ISO’s Major Failure with OOXML Revisited

Posted in ECMA, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, Standard at 1:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Broken beyond repair, just like OOXML

ISO standardISO will not be getting a break for its miserable failure to handle itself and ensure proper behaviour is maintained. Whether ISO gets horribly manipulated is a separate matter and if that’s the case, then it ought to immediately halt whole the process and complain to regulatory bodies. At least one of them is already investigating this, for it believes that antitrust laws were breached. Permitting the process to proceed uninterrupted is ISO’s suicide or, as Tim Bray put it, “ISO should hang their heads in shame for allowing it to happen.”

Here comes a shot from IEEE, whose reputation has not been rubbished like that of ISO.

Harish Pillay is annoyed by the ISO OOXML process and thinks the conduct infringes upon his professional code of ethics. But his rules just don’t apply.


An ISO technocrat would probably stress now that ISO/IEC does not apply these IEEE principles and wash his hands. Admitted. I thought, I had the view ISO/IEC process participants would naturally apply principles like these in standardization. I was naive. The mere existence of a Code of Ethics is an indication that the ethics seems to contravene the common practice. Of course, no doubt, ISO is not bound by IEEE ethics.

Watch what Frank Farance and Andrew Updegrove had to say:

“Eighty percent of the changes weren’t discussed,” said Frank Farance, an IT consultant who led the U.S. delegation to the ballot resolution meeting. “It’s like if you had a massive software project and 80 percent of it wasn’t run through [quality assurance]. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I’ve been doing this for 25 years.”

“People here are disgusted,” said Andrew Updegrove, a technology attorney and an outspoken critic of Open XML who was in Geneva but didn’t take part in the meeting. “The absurdity of trying to [ratify Open XML] by a ‘fast track’ process became quite apparent.”

Now, come to reconsider ECMA again. Tim Bray described them as a “toxic leech”. Days ago we found an ECMA connection to an aggressive Microsoft lobbying arm. And their vain behaviour projects this. As new examples of technical incompetence:

1. Ecma’s proposed dispositions are poor in quality
2. Resolutions made in the BRM may not address the concerns of NBs who have raised issues
3. Ecma is resistant to change which would break Ecma 376
4. Resolutions may not have had the time to harmonize amongst themselves (in this case Finland labeling which method is transitive and strict)
5. Two ways of doing things in a spec means that two conforming documents may not be compatible
6. BRM was too short a time for a thorough review
7. OOXML is becoming more of a Frankenstein than it already was

These remarks come from Malaysia, which has been forthcoming about the abuses. ISO too was abused, but it’s allowing this to go on. For inability to suspend amidst abuses, ISO could and should be slammed.

“This was horrible, egregious, process abuse and ISO should hang their heads in shame for allowing it to happen. Their reputation, in my eyes, is in tatters. My opinion of ECMA was already very negative; this hasn’t improved it, and if ISO doesn’t figure out away to detach this toxic leech, this kind of abuse is going to happen again and again.”

Tim Bray

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