ISO 29500 publication process may resume in August

The status code for the ISO's publication of OXML as an international standard has been on hold since four countries appealed the outcome of a ballot resolution meeting. That roadblock may now be lifted as soon as next month.

A spokesperson for the International Organization for Standardization confirmed this morning that, should the recommendations of the ISO Secretary-General and the International Engineering Consortium be agreed upon, the process of publishing the already approved Open XML document format suite as ISO/IEC 29500 will resume where it left off.

"The current situation," ISO spokesperson Roger Frost told BetaNews this morning, "is that the ISO Secretary-General and the IEC General Secretary have submitted the appeals, with their analysis, to the ISO Technical Management Board and the IEC Standardization Management Board who will decide by mid August whether the appeals should be further processed or not."

The recommendation of the two standards bodies' executives was quite clear: "The processing of the ISO/IEC DIS 29500 project has been conducted in conformity with the ISO/IEC JTC 1 Directives, with decisions determined by the votes expressed by the relevant ISO and IEC national bodies under their own responsibility, and consequently...the appeals should not be processed further."

The dissemination of yesterday's news was met with criticism, surprisingly on both sides of the issue. Linux Foundation attorney Andrew Updegrove, a vocal skeptic of Open XML's standardization who has been very closely following these proceedings from the beginning, lamented what he characterized as member countries' lack of amplitude in being able to get their voices heard:

"The analysis in the [executives'] document and the final recommendation," Updegrove wrote, "demonstrate the very limited degree to which decisions made by ISO/IEC can be appealed, no matter ill considered they may be considered to have been by those that have participated in the process."

But sounding an unusual note of near-agreement was Patrick Durusau, one of the OpenDocument Format's architects as a member of the OASIS standards body. Durusau also noted that member bodies don't seem to have much of a voice, and that this appeals process did little to change that.

As Durusau wrote last week (PDF available here) -- apparently when the outcome started looking more and more inevitable: "The only difference [after the appeals] is the loss of at least 240 days (approximately 8 months) we could [have spent] re-casting the Directives to: 1) empower National Bodies; 2) elect a JTC 1 Chair and Secretariat who serve the National Bodies (not the other way around); 3) eliminate both Fast-track and [publicly-available specification] submissions; 4) encourage meaningful relationships with other standards organizations; 5) empower [standards committees] to decide on submissions and their processing; 6) eliminate the vague, confused and contradictory Directives we have today. It is time that national bodies shook themselves out of their lethargy and took their rightful places as being in charge of JTC 1. They have nothing to lose but their chains."

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