News from the OOXML BRM

[Update - Rick Jelliffe has taken down most of his BRM report which I refer to below, the quote I reference was cut and pasted from his original.]

I am a little loath to comment on outcomes of the OOXML BRM that took place last week. However there has been a blog entry from Standards Australia delegate, Rick Jelliffe that has simply astounded me.

Please read this disclaimer before continuing...

Rick has his comments switched off so folks are unable to respond to his version of events, hence this response.

Under the title The Hell of Geneva (cached here) Rick contradicts the writings of just about every attendee that is writing, other than Microsoft employees, and announces that the BRM has been a success because "the BRM clearly has succeeded in its formal aim, which is to produce a better text.". Er, yes. It would have been hard not too produce a better text. Just one positive change would have done that.

But more alarmingly Rick now takes the Pontius Pilot position and washes his/ISO/Ecma hands of problems with the OOXML specification.

"but SC34’s only power comes from having strong government and user backing to give this maintenance the steroids it needs: this not only means monstering MS to continue through maintenance, but also (for governments) to provide adequate resources: staffing, delegates, and long-term support for participation at standards meetings."

Boy oh boy. Here is ISO, responsible for developing high quality, open standards that we can all use and in a position to ensure that this is what we get and Jelliffe suggests that it will be the fault of our governments if we do not get that result. Staggering.

Someone who worked closely with Rick Jelliffe on XML standardisation is Tim Bray. He also was at the BRM (on Canada's NB) and posted the following:

"The process was complete, utter, unadulterated bullshit. I’m not an ISO expert, but whatever their “Fast Track” process was designed for, it sure wasn’t this. You just can’t revise six thousand pages of deeply complex specification-ware in the time that was provided for the process.

"This was horrible, egregious, process abuse and ISO should hang their heads in shame for allowing it to happen. Their reputation, in my eyes, is in tatters. My opinion of ECMA was already very negative; this hasn’t improved it, and if ISO doesn’t figure out away to detach this toxic leech, this kind of abuse is going to happen again and again."

And the head of the US delegation, Frank Farance is quoted as saying:

"Eighty percent of the changes were not discussed. It's like if you had a massive software project and 80% of it was not run through QA. It's a big problem. I've never seen anything like this, and I've been doing this for 25 years."

It is not up to our Governments' to sort out ISO's mess, it is up to ISO and our National Bodies. Don't be mislead by the spin produced by Jelliffe and his ilk.