Open XML – Progress Towards the BRM

I thought it would be good to post a quick link to the brief statement that Ecma posted regarding the disposition of comments on the road to the BRM. The statement is brief enough that I will simply quote it here in its entirety:

Ecma Office Open XML File Format comment review – logo_topOnline portal to facilitate disposition of comments on ISO/IEC DIS 29500 ballots

Ecma TC45 is maintaining active involvement leading up to the ballot resolution meeting February 25–29 by supporting the ISO/IEC DIS 29500 Editor, Rex Jaeschke, who has been tasked with producing a proposed disposition of all comments received during the ballot period.

The final Proposed Disposition of Comments document is due to Ballot Resolution Meeting delegates by January 14, 2008. In order to facilitate National Bodies review and consideration of the disposition of comments, Ecma has built and will maintain a web portal that hosts current drafts of the proposed dispositions which may become improvements to the specification. This portal located here will be accessible by National Body members only and will be updated by the Project Editor with new dispositions on a regular basis. Ecma has taken the additional step of offering a communication channel where National Bodies may send feedback to the proposed dispositions of their comments and dialogue with the ISO/IEC DIS 29500 Editor.

We look forward to continued cooperation and collaboration with the ISO, IEC, and ISO/IEC JTC 1 National Body members for the betterment of the Ecma Office Open XML File Formats Standard.

Dr. Istvan Sebestyen
Secretary General of Ecma International.

Rex has a big task ahead of him, and he is working well with TC45 as they meet the commitment to produce a proposed disposition of all comments. The steps outlined in this letter are being taken within the ISO/IEC guidelines to establish clear communication channels for the National Bodies. I think the most important comment in this statement is that the portal will be updated on a regular basis with new proposed dispositions. It is important that the National Bodies have more time than the minimum required by the rules to consider the proposals. The minimum established by the rules would be the delivery of the final proposed dispositions document just a few weeks before the BRM.

Comments (11)

  1. A lot of the input on OOXML (both the good and the bad) has come from other parties – outside the national bodies. This input has been of tremendous value to the national bodies and really also to ECMA since it has – despite all the fud and wrong information – helped suggest good improvements to the spec.

    Do you have any info of why ECMA has chosen not to publically release their drafts in the following months?

  2. jasonmatusow says:

    Jesper –

    Keep in mind that all of this is happening under the auspices of ISO/IEC JTC1. The Project Editor represents JTC1, not Ecma. Ecma has stated they are supporting him in the task of creating the comments disposition document.

    The ballot resolution process is for the National Bodies. Each of them will have a process for considering the dispositions. There is no doubt that th input has been of value. The intent, from what I understand, is to enable clear, ongoing communication for the National Bodies (and the individuals doing the work within each NB) with the team creating the dispositions (Project Editor, TC45).

    I’ll be commenting more on this over the coming days and weeks.



  3. hAl says:

    @Jesper Lund

    I think you’ll find that several of the most active parties have access to the information trough their representatives in the national bodies.

    I think that publication of  the information would be especially benificial for other interested parties like you and me who have no connections to the national bodies or other ways to acces such information but are interested in following the standardization proces and/or interested in the format specification and its improments.

    If Ecma won’t reveal any info then mayby somebody will leak some of the details…

  4. marc says:

    It is supposed that Office Open XML ( OOXML ) is an open format.

    But the attitude of its submitters ( ECMA and Microsoft ) to keep closed the discussion to address NB comments contrast notably with this "openness".

    Bad decission ECMA.



    The future is open !

  5. hAl,

    Actually "you and me" is not a correct assumption since the company I work for is represented in the Danish National Body.


    (The Danish National Body has chosen not to disclose the identity of the actual people participating, just the company names, so I cannot comment on who of my collegues are actively participating)

    So basically my comment  does not relate to my own access to the material posted by JTC1/ECMA but to the general idea, that I was looking forward to a global discussion on how to improve the spec based on the comments following the votes on DIS19500. I agree with you that someone will propably leak the information anyway – I just simply think that JTC1/ECMA was better off with a single place to disclose the information instead of having them disclosed on e.g. GrokDoc which is notorious of leaving out information or providing incorrect  or biased material to back their – sometimes – ridiculous claims.

  6. Sam Hiser says:


    It’s hard to spin anything positively here. There will, ostensibly, be 5 days in which the Feb BRM will "discuss" several thousand comments.

    Even allowing for redundancy, there are many unique ones to be resolved; and it’s down to the convener’s (Alex Brown’s) interpretaton of what ‘resolved’ means.

    Will there be five minutes alotted for each comment or will they be handled in a sequence in which the BRM only gets to commet #59 before calling time?

    I don’t see a way out. But early release of the information indicates that hope springs eternal.

  7. jasonmatusow says:

    Sam – I always favor the glass is half full approach to things. I’ll comment more on the dispositions in the coming weeks. It’s not about spin – it is about what rational approach can be taken to handle the comments professionally and efficiently.



  8. Sam,

    About discussing the comments, BRM govenor Alex Brown stated on his blog

    "I don’t think the BRM is really a forum for discussion; it is more a venue for decision. That is a practical consequence of the size of the text, the amount of interest in the DIS, and the length of time we have. I have no doubt that for any NB to participate effectively in the BRM, they will have to have put a lot of hard work in beforehand, and have a technically expert delegate who has been thoroughly briefed. I expect there to be some potentially significant proposals on the table (from Ecma and from others), and that the meeting will adopt/reject these proposals, effectively reconfiguring the text."

    I tend to agree with him – the BRM is not the place to discuss the technical issues … the forum is simply too big. As I understand it, each S34-member can send up to 5 people to the BRM so there will possibly be over 100 people around the table. This is all the more important to have a thorough discussion about the possible drafts until January 14th.

  9. marc says:

    "it is about what rational approach can be taken to handle the comments professionally and efficiently."

    If you (MS/ECMA) had handled this professionally and efficientely you shouldn’t have rushed this so poorly edited ( to say the least ) format to ISO fast track processing.

    This was totally disrespectful to ISO and NBs: they are doing now the work that *you* ( MS/ECMA ) should have done.

    ( ~1000 comments, for god sake! You should be grateful that your name is "Microsoft" and ISO/JTC1 is helping you to move on DIS 29500… if it were other company this DIS wouldn’t have passed the 1st month of fast track, in any serious standardization process and any serious standards organization )


  10. hAl says:


    If you examine the ‘thousands of comments’ it quickly become less than a thousand and many of them are editorial that although possibly formally improving the spec do not anything usefull.

    Only a very minor part of the comments has real substance and/or impact on the specification.


    It was also very disrepectfull by the national bodies to blatantly copy almost 3000 comments into ttheir reposnses making the majority of comments just straightforward duplicates creating a lot of extra work. That is not very proper behaviour for a faststracking standard. It is also against the ISO policy of making standardization processes easier accessible for standards submitted from the business world.

    If for instance IBM has 300 comments then let the US submit those and not have 5 countries copy nearly all of them as well generating 1500 duplicates in the proces.