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World XML Expert Tim Bray on OOXML BRM: "The Process is Irretrievably Broken"

National bodies that are smart will make their decision between 8:30 and 9:00 AM on March 3 and immediately go on long vacations

The OOXML Ballot Resolution Meeting (BRM) in Geneva ended in tears. World XML expert Tim Bray (pictured) immediately recorded his thoughts on the meeting, and his verdict was withering: despite some good that perhaps came of it ("With a very few exceptions, everyone really tried hard to work together and make the document better," he writes), he described the BRM process as "complete, utter, unadulterated bullshit."

"I’m not an ISO expert, but whatever their 'Fast Track' process was designed for, it sure wasn’t this," blogged Bray from a hotel room in Frankfurt, Germany, which he found himself trapped after missing his connection from Geneva back to Vancouver where he is based.

"You just can’t revise six thousand pages of deeply complex specification-ware in the time that was provided for the process," he added - a reference to the 6000 pages of documentation that define Microsoft's Office Open XML (OOXML) format - the document format that Microsoft has proposed should become an international standard.

Stressing that he was not representing anyone at the meeting, or conferring with anyone who wasn’t in the room ("I’m knowledgeable about the subject and my country asked me to go," he explained), Bray saved his harshest criticism for the ISO:

"As the time grew short there was some real heartbreak as we ran out of time to take up proposals; some of them, in my opinion, things that would really have helped the quality of the draft.

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."


Ending his post with a prediction of what will happen now, Bray does not lose his wry sense of humor:

"What’s Next? · The national bodies that voted on the first round have thirty days to decide if they want to change their vote. I totally don’t believe that ECMA/Microsoft is going to be able to pull together a revised draft of this Frankenstein’s monster in that timeframe. That seems like a pretty serious process issue to me, too.

In practice this means that the heavy politics starts Monday morning. National bodies that are smart will make their decision between 8:30 and 9:00 AM on March 3rd and immediately go on long vacations in Tasmania or Nunavut."


View Tim Bray on SYS-CON.TV:

Tim Bray Speaks Out On Blogging, Web 2.0, XML, and the Future

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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