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Introducing ISO ODF 1.1

Stockholm Gamla Stan

It was cold and dreary in Stockholm for last week’s meeting of ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34.  There is nothing surprising or particularly interesting to report.  That is a sign of a successful meeting.  No drama.  These face-to-face meetings tend to be formulaic rituals.  The real work is done in WG teleconferences and email discussions that occur in advance of the face-to-face meetings.  If the WGs have done their work well, the physical meetings are boring.  In Stockholm we were not disappointed.

However, I would like to report on the advancement of an ODF initiative that we’ve been working on in the OASIS ODF TC and in SC34/WG6 for a couple months now.  The idea is to “upgrade” the ISO version of  ODF (ISO/IEC 26300) so it aligns with OASIS ODF 1.1, rather than its current alignment with ODF 1.0.  ODF 1.1 was standardized by OASIS back in 2007 and is widely implemented, including support in OpenOffice, Microsoft Office, Symphony, KOffice and so on.

Formally this alignment to ODF 1.1 would be done via an amendment to ISO/IEC 26300:2006, to add the enhancements from OASIS ODF 1.1 — primarily accessibility improvements.  The process will look something like this:

  1. OASIS submits the full text of ODF 1.1 to JTC1 (done)
  2. The ODF Project Editor will work with SC34/WG6 to prepare the text of an amendment to ISO/IEC 26300.  Think of it as a diff between ODF 1.0 and ODF 1.1 (in progress)
  3. A ballot of  SC4 NBs in what is called an FPDAM (Final Preliminary Draft Amendment)
  4. A ballot of JTC1 NBs in what is called an FDAM (you guessed it — a Final Draft Amendment)

The full process will take 9-12 months, so we can expect the amendment to be published sometime in 2011.

So you may be thinking, what does this mean for ODF 1.2? The answer is: nothing. I was not willing to support this amendment unless it could be done in a way that would not divert the ODF TC from its current work completing ODF 1.2.  After quite a bit of discussion in OASIS and with WG6 we found a way to process the amendment that did not effect the ODF 1.2 schedule.  However, the result is that it is likely that OASIS ODF 1.2 will be approved before the ODF 1.1 amendment is approved in JTC1.  This may look silly, but it is not a serious problem.  The important thing to remember is that the latest and greatest ODF work will be found at OASIS, and that this work will slowly but steadily progress through JTC1, and will eventually be published with an ISO/IEC coversheet,  12-16 months later.  The ISO version of ODF 1.1 should not matter to implementors, since most are already supporting ODF 1.1 and now moving on to ODF 1.2, but it may be of interest to some adopters.

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