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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Editor's Disposition of Comments Out (OOXML)

The Editor's Disposition of Comments is quite an important document in
the standards development process at ISO. After National Bodies submit
their initial positions and comments on a late draft standard, the
editor of the standard puts together a document to try to satisfy the
various comments. Even though the Disposition of Comments document is
not official, in the sense that anything in it is automatically accepted,
it is usually the starting point for comment resolution, and, given
that most comments are uncontroversial, is often the end-point too.
Monday 14th Jan was the self-imposed deadline for the circulation of
the IDS 29500 Editor's Disposition of comments. The comments and
disposition documents have been leaked to the web, with no tears from
anyone. Here [chart] is my rough characterization of them... The Editor
(Rex Jaeschke on behalf of ECMA TC45) has accepted the lion's share.
There is a small chunk of comments that are out of scope. There is a
small chunk which the Editor has decided are issues for the maintenance
phase, not the fast-track process: these are typically how comments
like 'ODF has feature X, why doesn't OOXML support it?' There is another
chunk of issues where the Editor disagrees with the substance of the
comment, but wants to address the issue by adding clarifying or helpful
text to the specification: for example, the issue of bitmasks is handled
by giving examplars of how to handle them in XSD, RELAX NG, Schematron,
DTLL and XSLT. And finally, another chunk where the Editor disagrees,
and gives the rationale for the disagreement. Suggested resolutions for
[four issues]: (1) Spreadsheet dates to go back before 1900, and can use
ISO 8601 date format; (2) DEVMODE concerns printer-dependent data which
may be binary: the editor suggests some minimal changes to say
'information' rather than 'data structure' and to show how the system
would work with some future XML-based print structure (3) VML is being
withdrawn from the places it is used in the specification, which now
use DrawingML; (4) For Maths, the Editor recommends allowing alternative
formats in particular recommending MathML: this is not to replace the
OOXML Maths, but in the context of 'rehydration' which is where you want
to round-trip through systems that don't support your full language...

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