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Building consensus around ODF 1.2

Doug Mahugh writes: It’s been interesting to be a part of the ODF TC and learn about how an OASIS working group handles the maintenance work for an evolving standard. I’ve also been involved in INCITS V1, Ecma TC45, and more recently SC34 WG4, and each group has its own style, based on the governing rules, the personalities of the members and committee chairs, the nature of the work to be done, and other factors.

ODF 1.2 will be the next major deliverable from the ODF TC, and co-chairs Rob Weir (IBM) and Michael Brauer (Sun) have been leading discussions of various open proposals on the email reflector and in the weekly TC phone calls. Much progress has been made, and there are also many open issues remaining to be resolved.

One topic that has been debated extensively is the question of how to handle conformance in ODF 1.2. There is a new requirement in section 2.18 of the OASIS TC Process ( which states:

A specification that is approved by the TC at the Public Review Draft, Committee Specification or OASIS Standard level must include a separate section, listing a set of numbered conformance clauses, to which any implementation of the specification must adhere in order to claim conformance to the specification (or any optional portion thereof).


The ODF TC has been discussing how the conformance clause of ODF might be modified for the 1.2 release to meet this requirement. This topic has been discussed in numerous weekly phone calls, and has become the most-discussed topic on the email reflector since I joined the ODF TC last year. There are currently over 200 emails on this topic in January and February of this year from 14 different TC members, including editor Patrick Durusau, well-known standards participants from South Africa (Bob Jolliffe), Brazil (Jomar Silva), Czech Republic (Jirka Kosek) and the US (Dennis Hamilton), ODF implementers (IBM, Sun, Microsoft, Novell, KOffice, Nokia, Adobe, Gnumeric), and others. Although the debate has been vigorous at times, it has all been conducted in a cooperative and respectful spirit of collaboration, and I’m sure I’m not the only person who has learned quite a bit from the discussion.

I’ll describe my perspective on the conformance debate in another post soon, but for today I just wanted to comment on the process we’re following, and how this debate is (hopefully) leading to consensus on this topic.

In December, Sun’s Michael Brauer (originator of the conformance proposal) revised his proposal to include one-level and two-level conformance alternatives. We then started discussing this in some detail in early January, as mentioned above. Focus Areas: BPEL | DITA | ebXML | IDtrust | OpenDocument | SAML | UBL | UDDI
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