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OOXML BRM Convenor: “It May Be Time to Start Again from Scratch”

Posted in ECMA, Formats, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, Standard at 2:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Alex Brown has just said so.

Ultimately the situation raises questions which go to the heart of the relationship between JTC 1 as an entity, and its member bodies. Just who is in charge, the nations or the officials? The unfortunate state of the Directives have meant there have been too many occasions when officials have had to step in and save the nations from the folly of the Directives that they themselves approved. Like ODF and OOXML the Directives is (literally) a standard, a standard that has faults. Unlike ODF and OOXML, however, I am beginning to believe the Directives have got to a state where they cannot be redeemed by evolution and amendment. It may be time to start again from scratch.

Sounds good, Alex. Given the feedback from Bryan (see below), whom you succeeded, OOXML needs to be flushed and we need to “start again from scratch,” to use your own words. Thank you for your honesty.

“This year WG1 have had another major development that has made it almost impossible to continue with our work within ISO. The influx of P members whose only interest is the fast-tracking of ECMA 376 as ISO 29500 has led to the failure of a number of key ballots. Though P members are required to vote, 50% of our current members, and some 66% of our new members, blatantly ignore this rule despite weekly email reminders and reminders on our website. As ISO require at least 50% of P members to vote before they start to count the votes we have had to reballot standards that should have been passed and completed their publication stages at Kyoto. This delay will mean that these standards will appear on the list of WG1 standards that have not been produced within the time limits set by ISO, despite our best efforts.

The disparity of rules for PAS, Fast-Track and ISO committee generated standards is fast making ISO a laughing stock in IT circles. The days of open standards development are fast disappearing. Instead we are getting “standardization by corporation”, something I have been fighting against for the 20 years I have served on ISO committees. I am glad to be retiring before the situation becomes impossible. I wish my colleagues every success for their future efforts, which I sincerely hope will not prove to be as wasted as I fear they could be.”

Martin Bryan
Formerly Convenor, ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34 WG1

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  1. AlexH said,

    May 21, 2008 at 4:13 am


    Alex Brown isn’t saying OOXML needs to be started from scratch: if you read what he’s saying, it’s actually the complete opposite – he believes the problems with OOXML can be fixed.

    I’m not sure it’s fair to twist someone’s words like that.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    May 21, 2008 at 4:22 am


    Alex Brown isn’t saying OOXML needs to be started from scratch:

    I did not say that he said that. Read carefully. I am sure that you, being an OOXML apologist, would be quick to defend it as usual.

  3. AlexH said,

    May 21, 2008 at 4:26 am


    So what exactly are you thanking Alex for?

    Putting his words in the context of your own opinion implies that he agrees with it.

  4. Roy Schestowitz said,

    May 21, 2008 at 4:48 am


    So what exactly are you thanking Alex for?

    Admission that the process is dysfunctional. He pretty much joins the voice of Bryan as far as I can tell, but he is less open and blunt about it (Bryan didn’t mean for this to be publicly seen and he regretted that this had happened).

    Putting his words in the context of your own opinion implies that he agrees with it.

    You’re being overly pedantic, Alex, unlike those who attended and managed the BRM in Geneva.

  5. AlexH said,

    May 21, 2008 at 4:58 am


    Alex Brown has said on a number of occasions, over the past year I think, that the process is flawed. This isn’t something new:

    “The kind of fast-tracking procedures used for ODF and mooted for OOXML give very little time for a small part-time volunteer group to give such bulky documents adequate scrutiny. There is no doubt ODF is, right now, less good than it would have been if subjected to the full rigours of ISO standardisation. With OOXML predicted to weigh in as a behemoth 7,000 page standard the danger that OOXML will be inadequately scrutinised is greater still.”

    – Alex Brown, June 2006

    He has consistently held this opinion all along, long before the BRM.

    This still doesn’t give you the right to twist his words. You said, specifically (of Alex), “OOXML needs to be flushed and we need to “start again from scratch,” to use your own words”.

    So, if I use *your* words to put forward my point of view, that’s ok? Sure, let’s try that. I give you your own words on Moonlight:

    “Moonlight is fine”, in the words of Roy, “it’s a great step forward”.

    Now do you see how wrong that is? They’re your words, but not your opinion. You’ve done exactly the same to Alex Brown.

  6. AlexH said,

    May 21, 2008 at 5:03 am


    Look, if you still think I’m being pedantic, here is an easy correction to make: change the title to “OOXML BRM Convenor on ISO process: ”It may be time to start again from scratch””.

    You see, that way you don’t confuse his words about the process with your words about the OOXML standard.

  7. Roy Schestowitz said,

    May 21, 2008 at 5:17 am


    Evidence of the process breaking culminated in Microsoft’s sheer abuse (dare I say corruption and bribery too). If that’s the case, why should OOXML slip through while the process gets mended?

    As for the rest, you’re playing a game of semantics. It’s an endless thing and your expectations from a blog are as high as you wish for them to be.

  8. AlexH said,

    May 21, 2008 at 5:30 am


    Your first question cannot be answered in the terms you state it, as well you know.

    As for a game of semantics: yes, this is about semantics, that’s in fact precisely the problem. It’s significant that you think semantics is a game, and you feel free to ascribe meaning to those who obviously don’t support your views.

    Believe me, my expections of this blog aren’t that high. You’ve admitted you don’t read it or research it, but using someone else’s words to espouse an opinion they don’t hold is generally thought to be pretty bad form. It’s bad manners, Roy.

  9. Quentin Crisp said,

    May 21, 2008 at 6:33 am


    Careful there Alex, you’re about to get tagged. Roy doesn’t deal in facts, only (mostly fictional) drama.

    Like many others I read this blog because it is entertaining. For the first month of having it in my list of feeds I thought it was some sort of comical parody site, but I couldn’t work out what of.

  10. Roy Schestowitz said,

    May 22, 2008 at 2:18 am


    Only one single person is being tagged and if you follow the links in the flag you’ll find out just why.

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