Monday, August 20, 2007

Notes from OOXML Standards Forum

Standards Australia hosted a forum on the proposed Draft International Standard ISO/IEC 29500, "Information technology - Office Open XML file format" on 9 August 2007 in Sydney. The notes from the event have been circulated by SA. With more than a little irony, the document was circulated as a Microsoft Word document (".DOC") embedded in a Microsoft Transport Neutral Encapsulation Format (".DAT"). For those who did not receive the message, or were unable to read it due to the formats used, here are some excerpts:

Draft International Standard (DIS), ISO/IEC 29500
Information technology — Office Open XML file formats

9 August 2007
Standards Australia, 20 Bridge St, Sydney


Alistair Tegart (Standards Australia Program Manager, Forum Chair), opened the forum at 10am and welcomed the participants to the Standards Australia ad-hoc forum on ISO/IEC 29500 Information technology — Office Open XML file formats. The purpose of this meeting was to provide a forum for discussion by interested parties to advise Standards Australia in the development of its submission for approval by the Communications IT & eCommerce (CITeC) Standards Sector Board. Invitees to this meeting included industry, government, academic and other interested parties.

Alistair Tegart outlined the aim of the forum, which was to gather information and explore creative ways to provide a uniquely Australian consensus position. Standards Australia will utilise the forum as one of the mechanisms to formulate a recommendation to the CITeC Sector Board. He also outlined the process that needs to be followed for providing written comments by 21 August 2007. The Standards Australia CITeC Sector Board will consider all the feedback and comments received when formulating a submission and position which will be forwarded to ISO/IEC JTC 1.


The European Computer Manufactures' Association International (ECMA International) adopted and published the Microsoft Open Office XML specification as ECMA 376 late in 2006. ECMA approached ISO/IEC JTC1, the international standards organisation for information technology, seeking to use the fast track process to elevate its standard to an International Standard status late in 2006. The JTC1 enquiry process opened on 1 January 2007, for a 30 day period.

In accordance with the JTC1 Directives (their process rules) Member countries were asked to list any apparent contradictions with existing standards (including ISO/IEC 26300: Information technology - Open Document Format for Office Applications. Some 19 countries did this, including Australia. The Standards Australia Communications, IT and e-Commerce (CITeC) Standards Sector Board (SSB) developed and approved Australia’s contribution.

ECMA provided a response to all contradictions raised and subsequently JTC1 made the document available as ISO/IEC DIS 29500 Information technology - Office Open XML file formats standard for actual balloting by the ISO/IEC member nations.

Voting options available to Australia

As a Participating Member of JTC1, Australia has an obligation review and submit a vote on the document. The options open are:

  • Approve

  • Approve with comment

  • Abstain

  • Disapprove with comment - disapproval of the DIS (or DAM) for technical reasons to be stated, with proposals for changes that would make the document acceptable (acceptance of these proposals shall be referred to the NB concerned for confirmation that the vote can be changed to approval)

The final vote will be submitted by Standards Australia by 2 September 2007.


Rick Jelliffe

Rick Jellife provided a broad overview of the working mechanisms of ISO and specifically his long involvement with ISO JTC1/SC 34 – Document Description and Processing Languages. He also discussed in broad terms ISO/IEC 29500 Information technology — Office Open XML file formats.

Karen Koomen -

Karen Koomen provided feedback and spoke briefly on behalf of the case for not ratifying ISO/IEC 29500. Karen stated she would like to add to her comments by providing further feedback from Rob Weir via a presentation (attached).

IBM pod cast slides:

Greg Stone-

Greg Stone articulated the case for a yes vote on the document (presentation attached), and had the following individuals state the case for a yes vote as part of his presentation.

Danika Bakalich (ComTIA)

Richard White (CargoWiseEDI)

Microsoft presentation slides:

Other contributions-

All participants at the forum were given an opportunity to speak publicly and present their positions. There were views expressed which supported the ratification of the document, and other participants supported a no vote on the document.

There were significant views expressed by the representative of Standards Australia Committee IT-019 (Computer Applications – Information and Documentation) and IT-019-01 (Information Technology for Learning, Education and Training), and National Archives of Australia. They voiced their concerns in the document being ratified at the ISO level.

Closing comments

Alistair Tegart thanked all the participants for contributing to a constructive and productive discussion. He invited participants to submit written comments by 21 August 2007, and reiterated that all the comments received by Standards Australia and the discussions at the forum will be utilised to formulate the submission that will be presented to the Standards Australia Communications, IT and eCommerce (CITeC) Sector Board.

The Standards Australia CITeC Board will discuss and formulate the final position from Standards Australia, which will be submitted to ISO/IEC JTC1 before the ballot closing date of 2 September 2007 .

Alistair Tegart stated that all the participants would be informed of the final position (vote) that will be submitted by Standards Australia.

Written comment closes COB 21 August 2007.
Mail to: michael.langdon(a)

The Forum closed at 1pm.

From: "Standards Australia DIS 29500 discussion forum record", message from Michael Langdon, STandrads Australia, Fri, 17 Aug 2007 11:29:51 +1000

Attached to the word processing document was a list of attendees, plus PDF of presentation slides from IBM and Microsoft. The presentation "Some Thoughts Concerning DIS 29500 “OOXML" by Rob Weir, IBM, has similar content to his Blog. The Microsoft presentation "The case for a positive vote for Office Open XML Standard (ECMA-376)", has similar content to the Microsoft OOXML web site.


zoobab said...

Can you post the attached documents on your blog? thx

Tom Worthington said...

zoobab wrote August 21, 2007 12:21 AM:

Can you post the attached documents on your blog?


OOXML Presentations by:

Rob Weir