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Re: [Fsfe-uk] Today: send a letter to stop MS's OOXML being fast-tracked

From: Alex Hudson
Subject: Re: [Fsfe-uk] Today: send a letter to stop MS's OOXML being fast-tracked in ISO
Date: Mon, 05 Feb 2007 13:26:50 +0000

On Mon, 2007-02-05 at 13:04 +0000, Ciaran O'Riordan wrote:
> Alex Hudson <address@hidden> writes:
> > because the people on the IST committee (who are handling this) were
> > getting _seriously_ pissed off at the anti-OXML brigade.
> Do you know what the problem was?  Shear volume?  Unreadably long letters?
> Aggressive tone?  Lack of knowledge of what is on-topic?

Well, I think as is usual, all of the above, but I think the main issue
was just the volume.

There was initial confusion as to who was actually the committee
responsible, so there was a lot of stuff being CC:d to many people, and
then getting forwarded around internally. So, I would say volume was a
key issue.

I don't think (m)any letter were aggressive. Some were probably long,
and that wouldn't help, but I don't think those were issues.

Lack of knowledge was potentially a problem. A lot of people just copied
the GrokDoc stuff, and only a few of the points at that, so I think it
was clear that a lot of people were parroting the same thing.

There was also a slight issue of interest: why were people writing to
the ctte? My own e-mail to them was based on my experiences with a
specific product, though I suspect I wasn't quite on-topic from what I
learned later. A lot of people, though, wrote in as "Armchair developer
of Dorking", without knowing too much about the history of the process.

In particular, the UK guys feel that OpenDocument was pushed through ISO
before it was ready. Given that, and that ECMA 376 is going through a
contradiction procedure in PAS that ODF was never subjected to, I think
they felt some of the arguments were hypocritical - e.g., the "this
standard was put together in a year and is 6000 pages long - you can't
possibly be able to review this properly!" came across slightly as a.
illinformed about the process ODF went to, b. telling them how to do
their jobs (that is, it probably didn't escape their attention that it
was so long ;).

So, a combination of stuff, really, but I think mostly just simple

I do wonder if the "contradiction" definition was interpreted slightly
wider than they would interpret it - it could be a lot of messages were
making points that were basically moot.

However, I guess it bodes well: if OXML goes down the fast track, which
I suspect it will (though, apparently NL is not terribly positive about
that, and CN have their own pet format - they might want to throw a
spanner in the works ;), a lot of the information that has been put
together is vastly more relevant to the actual review of the spec. 

Microsoft can't really afford to change the spec. in order to resolve
ballots (this format is already out there, in production - big changes
would mean a break with backwards compatibility), so the more stumbling
blocks that are discovered, the less it looks like a slam-dunk (not that
it did, but MS now have a lot of standardisation experience).

Also, of interest is the fact that the UK tend to have pretty high
standards (sic) - where there are problems, they do lodge objections in
the final ballot. 



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