Although the ODF 1.0 standard was approved several years ago (by OASIS in 2005 and by ISO/IEC in 2006), work on the standard does not cease. Of course, we have work on technical revisions of ODF, in the form of ODF 1.1 and the current work on ODF 1.2. New releases make the news and are talked about at conferences. etc. But also important, though not talked about as much, is the ongoing work on the text of ODF 1.0., in the form of translation and error correction. Even after ODF 1.1 and ODF 1.2 are created, ODF 1.0 continues to be maintained.
Why is translation important? Aside from increasing the number of developers who can read the standard in their native language, translation is a prerequisite in several countries in order to make ODF into a national standard. So translation increases the number of places where ODF support can be an official requirement. So far the ODF 1.0 standard has been translated into Russian, Chinese, Spanish and Portuguese. (There may be others — Let me know if I’ve missed any.)
(Interesting to note the size advantage of ODF compared to OOXML. I’ve heard from one reliable source that to translate OOXML would cost $500,000. This will certainly hamper its ability to be adopted in some parts of the world. ODF, by reusing existing standards, is only 1/10 the size.)
Also in progress is a translation of ODF 1.0 into Japanese. From what I understand, a JISC committee has completed an initial pass of the translation and then passed the translation off to a second committee. This second committee is reviewing the translation and raising any issues where the text is unclear. In some cases this may be caused by a faulty translation. But in other cases errors may be found which were present in the original English text.
That’s the second ongoing activity related to ODF 1.0 — error correction. Although we received most of our comments during the mandated 60-day public review prior to approval as an OASIS Standard, we do continue to get a trickle of comments months and years after publication. Each OASIS TC has their own mailing list for receiving comments. For the ODF TC, the mailing list archives are here. Anyone can subscribe to the comment list and post using the instructions here. The additional complexity in the sign-up procedure compared to your average mailing list is to ensure that all feedback submitted by the public to the list is in accordance with OASIS IPR rules. This helps ensure that ODF remains an open standard, unencumbered by patents.
Although we are only obligated to address comments received during the pre-approval public review period, around a year ago the ODF TC decided to formally record and process all comments received, regardless of when they arrived. So far, from May 2005 to the present, we’ve received around 250 comments. We note each comment in a spreadsheet, along with what ODF versions it pertains to (ODF 1.0, ODF 1.1 or ODF 1.2 draft), what section number the comment concerns, and whether the comment is reporting an editorial error, a technical error, or proposing a new feature. My estimate is that 50% of the comments are feature proposals, 40% are reporting editorial errors, and 10% reporting technical errors.
The preeminent source of comments on ODF 1.0 has been Murata Mokoto, of the Japanese SC34 mirror committee. Murata-san relays to us the defects found during the Japanese translation of ODF. The vast majority of these are editorial errors, mainly typographical or grammatical. But there are a handful of more significant issues found, and we are especially pleased to receive reports of these.
You may recall the old saying, “Every new class of users finds a new set of defects”. Translation of a standard is a laborious process, especially when combined with the additional review step that JISC is engaging in. This has subjected the text of ODF 1.0 to more scrutiny, at a more detailed level, than any typical technical review could provide. So I am appreciative of the detailed comments from JISC, and of the effort made in this translation by them.
My personal aim is to ensure that all of the reported editorial errors are fixed in the ODF 1.2 text, and that any technical flaws are addressed via errata. An errata document (That’s what we call it in OASIS. Others, e.g., ISO, call it “corrigenda”) allows us to make small changes to the ODF 1.0 text to address defects.
But this goal certainly debatable. Why not aim to fix every reported error in ODF 1.0 via published errata? Why knowingly leave even the smallest typographical error in the text? What relative priority should be placed on fixing typographical errors (and others) in ODF 1.0 versus work completing ODF 1.2?
This is entirely at the will of the ODF TC. The combined priorities of the vendors and other interests represented on the committee determine the direction we take. My perception of the expressed interests is that we should address the JISC comments via an errata document, but that the overall priority is on completing the work on ODF 1.2, and not attempting to fix every last instance of subject/verb disagreement or misuse of “A” for “An” in ODF 1.0.
And so our work on the ODF TC follows that priority. I’d estimate that we spend 80% of our time on ODF 1.2 topics and 20% on processing public comments on ODF 1.0/1.1, including those from JISC. We are nearing completion of an official Errata document for ODF 1.0, consisting of fixes to defects reported by JISC. Expect to see a call for public review soon. After that, the TC will continue to review and process public comments from the comment mailing list. If warranted, we are able to issue an updated errata document in the future, to address additional issues as they are reported.