a 'mooh' point

clearly an IBM drone

Santa Claus is coming to town

Now there are only a few days until I jump on a plane and head South to Switzerland, Geneva for the ISO/IEC SC34 Ballot Resolution Group Meeting, amongst laymen known primarily as "The BRM meeting". I cannot get my head around if I am exited or worried about the outcome of the meeting ... thinking primarily about the enormous workload expecting us down there. We will have to work through about 1000 unique disposition of comments from ISO/IEC editor Rex - scattered over about 3500 comments in total. It's a daunting task indeed - not least for BRM convenor Alex Brown from BSI UK. Adding to this workload is the small addition, that we will be 120 delegates dealing with it. It truly is breath-taking and I cannot help but feel like a mountain-climber standing at the foot of Mount Everest waiting to start the journey upwards. I expect the days to be work in the BRM meeting during normal work hours and work in the evening at the hotel sifting through the results of the day preparing for the next.

I am also thinking quite a bit on what will actually take place in Geneva at the meetings. As I understand the ISO rules (and please note, I have been wrong before), after the BRM is done, the standard to approve is the original submission with the changes made in Geneva. In other words - if not a single disposition can be agreed upon, the standard stands as it did when it was submitted in Spring 2007. I really hope that the delegates opposing OOXML do not try to paralyze the BRM with a massive DOS-attack on the process. As Alex Brown points out, it is the responsibility of the Head of Delegations (HoD) that this does not happen, and if I look at what we have been informed by the Danish HoD, it is clear to me, that they actually have a lot of future credibility in standards work vested in this. If they are not able to perform in an ordily manner at the BRM, their influence in all the other work they are doing will be diminished. I hope this will keep the lid on most of the fanatic out-bursts.

I am also looking forward to meeting some of the people I met in Kyoto in December 2007. Of course it is always nice to talk to people you agree with, but I sometimes get a bit bored with the "echo-chamber"-feeling of spending too much time with people of your own opinion. So I am even more looking forward to conversations with the delegates (and, yes, even the people of Open Forum Europe, who I have been told will be cheering us along in the corridors of the meeting) who are a bit more on the negative side of DIS 29500. It will be interesting to see what they think.

OOh ... and on Saturday I will go see Dinosaurs

Wanna join? 


Comments (6) -

Hi Jesper,

It would certainly be interesting to be there and I look forward to seeing the outcome.

Jesper wrote:

In other words - if not a single disposition can be agreed upon, the standard stands as it did when it was submitted in Spring 2007.

Luckily, agreement isn't necessary, only consensus, as Alex Brown wrote in his blog.

On the other hand: I'm a bit worried about some of the NB's sending delegates that openly admits that they don't want OOXML to be standarised through ISO, no matter what the outcome of the BRM is. It's a perfectly legitimate point of view but why spend five days at the BRM if you are going to vote against it anyways? They will have the opportunity to vote against it after the BRM. It seems to me this is more about business politics than standards.


Yes - you are correct, I should have been more specific about how agreements are made. They are - as you say - based on consensus, but still - it might be hard to get the consensus on some points ... at least it was in the Danish NSB.

I think the phrase "might be hard" is quite an understatement...Smile

I think that even if the standard won't make the final vote Ecma will still release a second edition of the format spec with a lot of the improvements that have come out of this process allthough in that case maybt not nescesarily the exact improvements the BRM will agree on.

Did you also get a personal invite for IBM's, I mean the OFE's, boattrip on lake Geneva ?


I don't think the consequences of not approving DIS 29500 should be down-played. Some people seems to think that we could just settle for EOOXML and have it handled by ECMA - but I don't think it is a good idea. We should want DIS2900 approved since the last year has proved if nothing else that the internal review-process of ECMA TC-45 is just as ... ahem ... flawed as the review process of OASIS ODF TC. We don't want the guys owning any standard having the final say on it - especially for document formats as important to the world as ODF and OOXML. It is in my opinion preferable to have OOXML and ODF in ISO, since it provides for a formal review-procedure and maintenance process of the document format. Furthermore it gives small countries like Denmark (and Holland) a real vote on the matter. We don't have this with a standard in OASIS nor ECMA. The perception that standardization is just a benefit for big companies like IBM and Sun is only true to a certain degree since having standards in ISO gives "the little guy" (here Denmark) real power in the matter.

If you look at the mail list for ODF in the months leading up to submission to ISO, you will se quite a large number of requests for adding e.g. formula specification to the specification. These were largely ignored due to time constraints to get the spec submitted to ISO. Therefore we now have a standard almost 3 years old with no formula specification.

Now, ECMA was also under some time constraints so they tried some of the same techniques but with OOXML in the ISO process the participants of SC34 were actually able to set some demands to ECMA to fix the stuff. The only tool available to us in the Danish NSB is not sending requests to a mail list - we can actually make demands and say that we will not vote for a standard if it does not reflect our comments.

(I know the above is a somewhat simplified picture of the ISO-process, but the point I am trying to make is that with OOXML and ODF in ISO it gives small countries a bigger say in the matter than if the standards were not in ISO).

OFE invitation:
No - I have not received this invitation. Maybe I didn't make the "final cut" on the A-list for people to get on the boat. Maybe the boat is just a two-seater with room only for Brian and Rob.


Actually I have not received any invitations to any events at all ... not from ECMA nor ODF-A, OFE, OASIS or any other organization. Maybe I should feel a bit neglected?

Jesper wrote:

Maybe the boat is just a two-seater with room only for Brian and Rob.

Well, too bad there is no open water any where close to Switzerland...;)

Comments are closed