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Ireland votes Conditional Approval/No with Comments on OOXML standard

Ireland has voted ‘no with comments’ on the OOXML/DIS 29500 proposal to make the new XML-based Microsoft file formats an international standard.

Title: NSAI supports progression of OOXML to ISO/IEC, whilst voting disapproval of the draft submitted for Fast-Track ballot; Source: NSAI
Summary of OOXML submission and the ISO/IEC process: In 2006 an ECMA International specification dealing with Office Open XML, an extension of the the Extensible Markup Language, was submitted to ISO/IEC JTC 1, the international Joint Technical Committee dealing with
standardization for Information Technology, as a candidate ISO/IEC standard. XML is a general purpose language allowing users to define their own tags, its primary purpose being to facilitate the sharing of data across different information systems, particularly via the Internet.

ECMA International is an industry consortium with official liaison status to JTC 1 permitting such direct submission of an existing specification to Draft International Standard (DIS) without having first to go through a member National Body (such as NSAI), or the usual developmental process via a technical committee. In such cases, what is known as a fast-track ballot is undertaken, consisting of a one month Contradiction Review, during which the National Bodies have the possibility to raise objections to the ballot’s proceeding (which must be based at this stage only on perceived contradictions or conflict with existing ISO/IEC standards), followed by a five-month enquiry ballot, during which the National Body can accept the document, reject it, or abstain, with accompanying comments as appropriate. NSAI as ISO/IEC JTC 1 National Body is charged with responsibility for the Irish response on these reviews and ballots, and it is advised in the process by its ICT Standards Consultative Committee (ICTSCC), which is open to all interested parties within its scope.
Contradiction Review: In the absence of a consensus within NSAI’s ICTSCC to send objections to the draft’s progression to ballot, NSAI did not raise contradictions by the review deadline of February
5, 2007.
Technical Review and Ballot: The formal ballot proceeded with deadline September 2, 2007; ICTSCC on June 22 set up a specialist Ad-Hoc Group (AHG) under the convenership of Dr. David Abrahamson of Trinity College, Dublin, an acknowledged expert in the area, having been joint editor of the precursor SGML standard. The AHG presented its final report to ICTSCC on August 27, which, however, did not have agreement of all its members; although a number of technical comments had been agreed in principle – some matters still requiring amendment before all could agree. In the absence of consensus the recommendation was to abstain in the ballot (with differing views on
whether such abstention should be accompanied by agreed technical comments or not). ICTSCC at its August 27 meeting obtained unanimous agreement on the technical integrity of modified technical
comments, though without consensus on whether these should be transmitted with the Irish response or not; and no consensus was reached on the nature of this response.
The response of the Irish National Body: NSAI, in accordance with its responsibilities and authority for establishing the Irish national position, considered all the submissions and analyses and decided to accept the agreed constructive comments for submission with the national position. In accordance with correct ISO/IEC JTC 1 Procedures, a conditional approval vote was cast on August 31 on the
balloted draft, which required recording of a disapproval of it as presented. The ISO/IEC JTC 1 Directives require that satisfactory resolution of accompanying comments in a further draft should
lead to an approval by the National Body. NSAI’s comments, along with those of all other National Bodies, will be thus considered at the Ballot Resolution Meeting to take place in early 2008, which will be responsible for producing an improved and agreed final document for publication.

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  1. I would like to offer congrats to those concerned with the decision not to accept the current offer as a standard.
    It is my belief, and I hope that of others, that such a standard must be TRULY and FULLY open.
    Hopefully nothing will occur in the meantime to cause Ireland to change its stance on this.

  2. Any chance of transparency on which “interested” parties (i.e. Microsoft Partners) turned up to vote in favour of this? The public has a right to know.