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Subject: Progress and EML submission ... JTC1 ... (background)

Please see the prior post for the issues on which we need TC member
feedback. This post is the background material for that query.


JTC1 is re-examining and rewriting its own rules, in a rather slow
process. One area that's been very sensitive is how JTC1 will
cooperate with outside organizations when PAS submissions and
similar works are shared with JTC1. Several high-profile outside
submissions, including our own OASIS OpenDocument Format (ODF)
standard, and others, attracted a great deal of attention in
2007-08; some were the focus of tremendous controversy in the press.
JTC1 members appear to have become more concerned about their
independence and the organization's interaction with outside

There's still a high degree of mutual trust and regard between
JTC1's members and OASIS. But at the same time, they are struggling
to re-define their rules for submissions. They've asked OASIS to
work on changes, or better definition, of the way that JTC1 and
OASIS interact after a standard is initially transposed (approved by
JTC1). We are entering into those negotiations now, and we're
concerned that any submission put to a vote now should take them
into account.

Our position, since we started working with JTC1, is that the OASIS
TC who creates a submitted standard (say, a version 1) would
continue to own its revisions, take in feedback from JTC1 members,
and bring major completed revisions (like a version 2) back to JTC
for re-approval.

That's what we did with ODF v1.0 in 2005. The JTC1 Directives
(rules) at the time [1] simply asked OASIS to propose the terms for
approval and maintenance of the standard. We proposed in ODF's
"explanatory report" submission that OASIS retain control of the
editing pen, and this was approved unanimously, by 23 P-members
(national bodies) of JTC1, in the six-month ballot on DIS 26300
ending in May 2006. [2]

The approved terms were later described by some opponents as a "take
it or leave it" arrangement, but are common for other historical PAS
submissions. If JTC1 members had comments, at the time of a vote,
then OASIS would give its TC the opportunity to consider proposed
changes ... but there was no obligation for OASIS to accept them.
OASIS simply could withdraw the submission, if JTC1 parties asked
for changes that the TC was not also willing to accept and
re-incorporate into its own OASIS version.

That gave us some necessary power to avoid "forked" works. It was
and is very important to OASIS that an outside submission by OASIS
does not become "forked" into two different versions, one from OASIS
and one from the receiving organization. OASIS generally only
submits specifications once they've received final approval as an
OASIS Standard. Usually by that stage, there's an installed base of
users; so diverging, forked versions would significantly detract
from the standard's usefulness.

As a practical matter, this worked fine with ODF v1.0. The 2006
ballot yielded many optional comments in the form of suggestions
from JTC1's voting national bodies. They all approved the OASIS
submission unconditionally ... but the OASIS TC choose to review and
incorporate the optional JTC1 comments anyway as errata, in a
"second edition" of v1.0, first re-approved by the OASIS TC, and
finally published as JTC's IS 26300.

Later events did not play out as well. The OASIS TC adopted a minor
revision to ODF as v1.1 in February 2007, but did not send it back
to JTC1. (They were waiting for a v2.0, because v1.1 wasn't thought
to be a significant change.) Some JTC1 stakeholders believed that
OASIS should, instead, send forward every approved update.

Individual JTC1 stakeholders also sent in various errata-type
comments to OASIS. These all eventually were reviewed by the TC, and
most were accepted, but the TC's replies were not speedy enough,
according to some JTC1 parties. This all occurred amidst other
difficult debates within JTC1. Among other things, two national
P-members voted against OASIS, in the periodic renewal of OASIS' PAS
submitter status in 2007. They felt that JTC1 should have more
control (and OASIS less) of revisions or maintenance to OASIS
standards submitted to JTC1.

Responding to this, and similar concerns from a related JTC1
subcommittee, OASIS offered in 2008 to sit down with JTC1
representatives, to develop some possible new methods, informal or
otherwise, for better communication and collaboration. I attended
the annual JTC1 plenary in Nara, Japan to discuss this with those
parties and the JTC1 leadership. We worked out and JTC1 adopted the
following resolution:

     JTC1 recognizes the timely response (N9398) from OASIS to
     the SC34 liaison statement (SC34 N1095), and thanks OASIS for
     the new draft errata to ODF 1.0.  JTC1 particularly welcomes
     OASIS's proposal to confer with JTC1 and SC34 to forge a genuine
     partnership for collaboratively handling the maintenance of
     ODF/IS 26300. JTC1 requests SC34 and OASIS to develop a document
     specifying the detailed operation of joint maintenance procedures,
     with a common goal of preparation of technically-equivalent
     documents, and taking into account the requirements and 
     of both standards bodies.  SC34 is requested to consider this
     document at its March 2009 plenary and report the results to JTC1
     following this meeting.

Other draft resolutions that had been offered, with a less
collaborative tone, were withdrawn. As a result, we'll meet with
JTC1 representatives during the first quarter of 2009 to try to
define mutually workable maintenance terms.

The approach we take to launching EML v5.0's delayed vote should
take these issues into account and, if possible, provide terms
that are likely to work for the changed concerns of both
orfanizations. Please see the options described in the prior post,
on which we seek this TC's feedback.

Kind regards, JBC

~ James Bryce Clark
~ Director of Standards Development, OASIS
~ http://www.oasis-open.org/who/staff.php#clark

[1]  Directives as of 2005: 

[2]  See JTC1 Doc. N0728.  JTC1 documents generally are available at 
the committee's website, at www.jtc1.org, although the interface can 
be challenging.  OASIS also has file copies of the relevant 
documents discussed here.

[3]  Current Directives: 

[4] OASIS submission of EML v5.0 to JTC:

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