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Friday, February 8, 2008

OpenXML: A Poster Child for Open Standards Development?

"I have seen some attacks on OpenXML saying it is not an 'open' standard.
I am quite puzzled by those attacks and think that OpenXML makes the
case for open development of standards. Understand that as the Project
Editor for ISO/IEC 26300 and the OpenDocument Format TC editor in OASIS,
I carry no brief for OpenXML. However, a well defined and publicly
controlled OpenXML would be a great benefit for future work on the
OpenDocument Format standard so I have no reason to wish it ill. OpenXML
has progressed from being developed in a closed environment to being
handed over to approximately 70% of the world's population for future
development so I am missing the 'not open' aspect of OpenXML. If
anything, the improvements made to OpenXML during that process make it
a poster child for the open standards development process... Ecma TC
45 is composed of a wide variety of users, developers and others
interests who wanted to see Microsoft Corporation adopt an XML based
format for its office software. Over the course of a year with a very
aggressive meeting schedule, TC 45 produced a document that was
approximately three (3) times longer than the original submission and
that was in many ways a better proposal. That to me illustrates the
difference between talking to yourself and opening up the development
process to a larger group of people. After being revised by TC 45,
OpenXML was submitted via fast-track for approval as an ISO/IEC standard
(DIS 29500) in JTC 1/SC 34. If you look at the roster for SC 34,
approximately 70% of the world's population has a seat at the table
via their national bodies to discuss the final version of OpenXML. The
fast track process created unnaturally short deadlines but the national
bodies labored very hard to produce over 3,000 comments on OpenXML and
TC 45 labored just as hard to produce answers for those comments.
Answers that often offered substantial changes, I think for the better,
to OpenXML."

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