Microsoft’s Stephen McGibbon updates us on the OOXML Ballot Resolution Meeting (BRM), now scheduled for February 25-29 in Geneva. He ends his otherwise informative post with a little jab:
I hear that IBM is still telling national bodies that a BRM isn’t guaranteed. I am unsure how IBM reached that conclusion but this seems to be concrete evidence to the contrary.
Well, let me help refresh Mr. McGibbon’s seemingly repressed memories.
First, scheduling a BRM does not guarantee it will be held. For example, have you heard of DIS 26926 “C++/CLI”? It was another Microsoft/Ecma Fast Track, just last year. The BRM meeting announcement went out on 25 October 2006, saying the BRM would be held 13-15 April 2007 in Oxford, England. Stephen, do you recall that BRM by any chance? Of course not, because it was canceled in February 2007 with the following message from the SC22 Secretariat:
We have been advised that the comments accompanying the Fast Track ballot for DIS 26926 are not resolvable and that holding a Ballot Resolution Meeting (BRM) would not be productive or result in a document that would be acceptable to the JTC 1 National Bodies. Therefore, our proposal is to not hold the BRM and to cancel the project.
So there is one example of a BRM that was scheduled and then canceled.
Want another? Sure, I can do that.
Take the case of DIS 26300 “Open Document Format.” A Ballot Resolution Meeting was scheduled for May 29 to June 1, 2006 in Seoul, Korea, concurrently with the JTC1/SC34 Plenary. But was the BRM actually held? No. It was canceled by the Plenary:
Following the advice of the JTC 1 Secretariat, JTC 1/SC 34 cancels the previously-scheduled ISO/IEC 26300 Ballot Resolution Meeting and the SC34 Secretariat will forward the revised DIS text and accompanying disposition to SC34 national bodies for a 30-day default ballot when ready.
Why? Because ODF received no Disapproval votes. Although 8 of the 23 NB submitted comments with their ballot, these were all “Approval, with Comments” votes rather rather than “Disapproval, with comments. So a BRM was not deemed necessary. Only comments that accompany Disapproval votes must be addressed at a BRM.
So there you go, two examples of BRM’s that were scheduled, but then canceled. The SC Secretariat has some discretion here. JTC1 Directives, Section 13.5 says, “In some cases the establishment of a ballot resolution group is unnecessary and the SC Secretariat can assign the task directly to the Project Editor.” The two examples given show that if a ballot passes by large margins, or fails by large margins, a BRM may not be necessary.
How about another example from the recent past, the Fast Track DIS 29361 “Information technology – Basic profile.” Their ballot closed on June 18th. Its ballot passed with 17 of 20 P-Members voting in favor of it. All Disapproval votes were accompanied by comments, as did one of the approval votes. Since there were Disapproval votes surely there must have been a BRM, right? No, that’s not how it worked. The JTC1 Secretariat decided a BRM was not necessary and the comments could be forwarded directly to the Submitter of the Fast Track for them to “review and respond”. So even having Disapproval votes does not guarantee a BRM will be held.
Does this make more sense now?
Of course, Microsoft already knows all this, and no doubt that is why they are working so hard to urge NB’s to vote “Approval, with comments” with promises that their comments will be addressed at the BRM, a BRM that might not even occur. In fact, if everyone listened to Microsoft and followed their advice then that would almost guarantee that no BRM would be held and no NB’s comments would be adopted.