Bonum Certa Men Certa

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

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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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