Information Technology —

Document Description and Processing Languages

TITLE: Report of Official Foreign Travel to Spain, April 17-29, 1999 (Chairman's report of SC34 Meeting and related events)
SOURCE: James David Mason, Chairman ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34
PROJECT: All SC34 projects
PROJECT EDITOR: All SC34 editors
STATUS: Official report to U.S. Department of Energy (text published as Y/ES-341, Oak Ridge Y-12 Plant, Oak Ridge, Tennessee U.S.A.)
ACTION: For information
DATE: 27 May 1998
DISTRIBUTION: SC34 and Liaisons
REPLY TO: Dr. James David Mason
(ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34 Chaiman)
Information Technology Services
1060 Commerce Park, M.S. 6480
Oak Ridge, TN 37831-6480 U.S.A.
Telephone: +1 423 574-6973
Facsimile: +1 423 574-0004
Network: [email protected]


Report of Official Foreign Travel to Spain
April 17-29, 1999

James David Mason
Science Applications International Corporation
Oak Ridge Y-12 Plant
Oak Ridge, Tennessee

Prepared by the Oak Ridge Y-12 Plant Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37831, managed by Lockheed Martin Energy Systems, Inc. for the U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY under contract DE-AC05-84OR21400

DISCLAIMER: This report was prepared as an account of work sponsored by an agency of the United States Government. Neither the United States Government nor any agency thereof, nor any of their employees, makes any warranty, express or implied, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product, or process disclosed, or represents that its use would not infringe privately owned rights. Reference herein to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the United States Government or any agency thereof. The views and opinions of authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States Government or any agency thereof.

The U.S. Government retains a paid-up, nonexclusive, irrevocable, world-wide license to publish or reproduce the published form of this document, prepare derivative works, distribute copies to the public, and perform publicly and display publicly, or to allow others to do so, for U.S. Government purposes.




Spring Meeting of ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34, Granada, Spain

Working Group Meetings

Results of the Meeting

Conference: SGML/XML Europe '99

ISUG (International SGML/XML Users' Group)

Conclusion and Recommendations

Granada Meeting Attendance



The Department of Energy (DOE) has moved rapidly toward electronic production, management, and dissemination of scientific and technical information. The World-Wide Web (WWW) has become a primary means of information dissemination. Electronic commerce (EC) is becoming the preferred means of procurement. DOE, like other government agencies, depends on and encourages the use of international standards in data communications. Like most government agencies, DOE has expressed a preference for openly developed standards in preference to proprietary designs promoted as "standards" by vendors. In particular, there is a preference for standards developed by organizations such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) that use open, public processes to develop their standards.

Among the most widely adopted international standards is the Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML, ISO 8879:1986, FIPS 152), which DOE has selected as the basis of its electronic management of documents. Besides the official commitment, which has resulted in several specialized projects, DOE makes heavy use of coding derived from SGML, and its use is likely to increase in the future. Most documents on the WWW are coded in HTML ("Hypertext Markup Language"), which is an application of SGML. The World-Wide Web Consortium (W3C), with the backing of major software houses like Microsoft, Adobe, and Netscape, is promoting XML ("eXtensible Markup Language"), a class of SGML applications, for the future of the WWW and the basis for EC. W3C has announced its intention of discontinuing future development of HTML and replacing it with XHTML, an application of XML.

In support of DOE's use of these standards, I have served since 1985 as Chairman of the international committee responsible for SGML and related standards, ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34 (SC34) and its predecessor organizations. During my April 1999 trip, I convened the spring 1999 meeting of SC34 in Granada, Spain. I also attended a major conference on the use of SGML and XML.

SC34 maintains and continues to enhance several standards. In addition to SGML, which is the basis of HTML and XML, SC34 also works on the Document Style Semantics and Specification Language (DSSSL), which is the basis for W3C's XSL ("eXtensible Style Language," to be used with XML) and the Hypermedia/Time-based Document Structuring Language (HyTime), which is a major influence on W3C's XLink ("XML Linking Language"). SC34 is also involved in work with ISO's TC184, Industrial Data, on the linking of STEP (the standard for the interchange of product model data) with SGML.

In addition to the widespread use of the WWW among DOE's plants and facilities in Oak Ridge and among DOE sites across the nation, there are several SGML-based projects at the Y-12 Plant. My project team in Information Technology Services developed an SGML-based publications system that has been used for several major reports at the Y-12 Plant and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). SGML is a component of the Weapons Records Archiving and Preservation (WRAP) project at the Y-12 Plant and is the format for catalog metadata chosen for weapons records by the Nuclear Weapons Information Group (NWIG).

Supporting standards development allows DOE and the Y-12 plant both input into the process and the opportunity to benefit from contact with some of the leading experts in the subject matter. Oak Ridge has been for some years the location to which other DOE sites turn for expertise in SGML and related topics.

Note: This report is in many ways a sequel to my most recent foreign trip report, Y/CSD/INF-98/6, which reported on the Spring 1998 meeting of ISO/IEC JTC1/WG4, the predecessor of SC34, in Paris, France. Other meetings of SC34 during 1998 did not result in a foreign trip reports; copies of documentation for these meetings are available from the SC34 site on the WWW (

This report is available on the SC34 Web site at Hyperlinks in the online report connect it to the documents it references on both the SC34 site and at other locations, particularly W3C.



In the Joint Technical Committee on Information Technology (JTC1) of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), the responsibility for standards in the area of Document Description and Processing Languages lies with ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34 (SC34), which I chair.

One of SC34's standards-SGML-is among the most widely used of all ISO standards. The European Community adopted SGML for its official publications even before the standard was completed. It was made a Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS 152) and was adopted many years ago by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) as part of its CALS (variously "Computer-aided Acquisition and Logistic Support" or "Commerce at Lightspeed" over the years) initiative. DOE also adopted SGML in 1990, not simply because of DOE's close ties to DoD but even more because the standard can be an excellent basis for a system of capturing and managing the scientific and technical information developed by DOE's research facilities. The Nuclear Weapons Information Group (NWIG) has adopted SGML as the form for metadata in catalogs of weapons data at DOE sites.

SGML is the basis on which HTML (, the coding convention for most documents on the WWW, was built. W3C has recently been promoting a more flexible approach to coding systems that they call XML (, which is a potentially very large class of SGML applications that they believe will replace HTML for many documents on the WWW. Because HTML, as a single SGML application, has only one set of tags to identify information elements, developers of WWW content have been frustrated with its limitations. XML, which allows users to develop new SGML applications with elements and tags designed to reflect their particular information needs, is gaining wide acceptance. Both Microsoft and Netscape support XML in their WWW browsers, and Oracle, Informix, Microsoft, Adobe, and other major software houses plan to support it across their product lines. This summer, W3C intends to replace HTML 4.0 with a new XML application, XHTML (

The other projects under development in SC34 are also of interest to the government because they can be used with SGML to develop a comprehensive and powerful publications and information management systems. Among the most notable projects are DSSSL (ISO/IEC 10179:1996) and HyTime (ISO/IEC 10744:1992, 1997). W3C is using these standards as the basis for a suite of simplified standards to support stylesheets and linking for XML, just as the full standards support complex SGML applications. Another standard that is gaining attention recently is Topic Maps (ISO/IEC 13250), which allows links to be applied to documents without the need to modify them. Because these standards have the backing of the major software houses, they are likely to have wide influence in DOE.

Spring Meeting of ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34, Granada, Spain


The SC34 meeting was held at the Palacio de Exposiciones y Congresos in Granada. The attendance at the spring meeting of SC34 included 16 experts representing 8 national bodies (Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States), three external liaison bodies (SGML Users' Group; W3C; and ISO TC184/SC4, Industrial Data).

At this meeting SC34 considered a proposal for work in the area of Product Data Markup Language (PDML). If approved, this proposal will result in a joint project with ISO TC184/SC4 (, which is responsible for STEP, the standard for industrial product model data representation and exchange, and EXPRESS, the language in which STEP has heretofore been interchanged. SC34 and TC184/SC4 opened liaison last year. One of the oldest and largest areas of SGML application has been industrial documentation (e.g., product specifications, operating and maintenance manuals). Because the same product will often have data concerning it in both SGML and STEP/EXPRESS, SC34 and TC184/SC4 had already begun a preliminary project to investigate interconnections between the two systems of data representation. The proposed new PDML project will formalize the arrangement for joint work from the SC34 end; TC184/SC4 already has proposed a joint project.

W3C has established formal liaison with SC34 in the past year. W3C's chief interests at present are support for XML and development of an ISO standard based on HTML 4.0 (the latter will need to be updated when XHTML replaces HTML).

The opening plenary was held on Monday, 19 April 1999, with reports from national bodies, liaison organizations, and project editors. After status reports on the projects, the working group stayed mostly in a single session because of common interest in EC and product data exchange. SC34 is also concerned that the old ISO procedures for issuing standards only as (very expensive) paper documents will impede future adoption of SC34 standards and will shift the initiative for development and adoption to organizations like W3C that make their work freely available online. SC34 plans to draft a position paper on online delivery in response to JTC1 requests for new initiatives.

After the opening plenary, SC34 broke into its component Working Groups: Markup Languages (WG1), Information Presentation (WG2), and Information Association (WG3).

Working Group Meetings


WG1: Markup Languages

SC34's oldest ISO standard, SGML (ISO 8879:1986), is evolving with changes in information technology. The process began with the completion of DSSSL and the republication of HyTime. Since then, W3C has chosen a subset of those three standards as the basis for XML, XSL, and Xlink/XPointer, which are attracting wide attention from both users and software vendors. SC34 has published two Technical Corrigenda (TCs) to SGML to support internationalization of text (through UNICODE/ISO 10646) and to formalize expression of some of the constraints imposed on applications by XML.

At this meeting, SC34/WG1, having brought SGML up to date in functionality through the incorporation of facilities from DSSSL and HyTime, looked at issues related to a projected restatement of the full standard in a more modern notation than was used in 1986.

WG2: Information Presentation

SC34/WG2, which at this meeting concentrated on fonts and related topics, has completed work on an ISO Technical Report (DTR 154143, ) on the design of a Font Server for publishing and sent it for final processing. SC34/WG2 also worked on two amendments to ISO/IEC 9541 on font interchange ( and

The Recommendations of the WG2 meeting are available online at

WG3: Information Association

SC34/WG3 works mainly on matters of hypertext and multimedia documents and linking. HyTime (ISO/IEC 10744), a standard for manipulating multimedia data and hyperlinking diverse forms of information, continues to gain attention. Topic Maps (ISO/IEC FCD 13250, is a specific application of HyTime that emphasizes the ability to add navigational tools to existing bodies of information. SC34/WG3 completed work on Topic Maps and is sending it out for final ballot. The Interchange Standard for Multimedia Interactive Documents (ISMID, is another HyTime application that deals with Interactive Electronic Technical Manuals (IETMs); it is being sent out for initial ballot.

SC34/WG3 is also working on an ISO version of HTML (ISO/IEC FCD 15445, in cooperation with W3C. SC34/WG3 reviewed the latest draft from the editors and is sending it out for a final phase of balloting.

WG3 considered a presentation on multimedia access and retrieval and transmitted it to two other JTC1 committees as a liaison (

SC34/WG3 presented a session after the closing plenary of SC34 in which some of its project editors discussed the joint work with TC184/SC4 on product data. They also demonstrated the results of some development of the GROVE facility brought into SGML from HyTime and DSSSL: the software is being developed for Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft in Fort Worth, where it will be used to manage diverse data, including Microsoft Word and Excel files.

The Recommendations of the WG3 meeting are available online at

Results of the Meeting


SC34 is pleased that its standards continue to attract attention and new applications. The group is particularly pleased by the rapid growth of XML and will concentrate its efforts on supporting that class of applications.

The Resolutions of the SC34 Meeting ( are available online as formal statements of the accomplishments of the meeting. The SC34 library also includes the Report of the SC34 Secretariat (, which lists all the formal projects in SC34 and their editors.

Conference: XML Europe '99


The Graphic Communications Association (GCA, an affiliate of Printing Industries of America) has been a supporter of SGML and its applications from the earliest days. Their conferences on SGML-related topics had grown steadily over the years, but the arrival of first HTML and then XML has caused an explosion of participation in both North America and Europe. Some sense of how the world of information is moving can be gained from the keynote speakers: representatives of Microsoft, which continues to stress the integration of XML into its entire product line, and Oracle and Informix, which are integrating XML into their database-management systems. Oracle, in particular, is putting XML at the core of its product: Oracle 8i includes integral XML and Java processors that are addressable not only from any internal procedure but from external programs as well ( A measure of the success of XML is the number of major computing suppliers that have links to XML topics featured on their WWW sites (e.g., Oracle, IBM, Sun, Adobe, Microsoft) and are distributing free XML software (Microsoft, IBM).

The conference, which generally had six concurrent tracks, was too vast for me to absorb by myself (I have the proceedings in both paper and electronic form for anyone wanting to inspect them).

The track on STEP/SGML again drew attention at the conference: Many organizations seem to be interested in unifying their product models, combining manufacturing data with documentation and record keeping. The issues raised in this track also came up in others: managing documentation life cycles, managing document components in the same way a product-data manager handles manufacturing data, and managing information content. Quite a few vendors were promoting component-management systems. Data modeling has long been an interest of SGML users, and W3C has several projects related to it. Modeling is key to effective metadata use, and it is also central to linking engineering and manufacturing processes to documentation. The processing of healthcare data, which covers a wide range of subjects from patient records (and related privacy issues) to aspects of EC, continues to attract attention. The Europeans may actually be implementing SGML/XML solutions more rapidly than U.S. organizations are.

The conference was quite lively, and interest in the SGML/XML world is growing explosively.

ISUG (International SGML/XML Users' Group)


The SGML Users' Group was formed at GCA's 1984 conference at Oxford University. Incorporated as ISUG, a nonprofit organization with offices in the United Kingdom, it now has branches in most Western European countries, as well as affiliates in the U.S. and Canada ( ISUG regularly sends a delegation to SC34 meetings and provides editors for several standards. At this year's Annual General Meeting, held in conjunction with XML Europe, I was installed as ISUG's third President since its founding (I was a charter member and had been a member of its board since 1984). Copies of the ISUG newsletter are available in my office.

Conclusion and Recommendations


The world of SGML appears to be quite healthy, whether one looks at the fundamental level of standards development or surface layers of application.

Although DOE has been involved with SGML and its predecessors since the late 1970s, interest in these subjects has tended to reside in specialized groups. The rise of the WWW brought a casual, if frequently effective, use of SGML (in the form of HTML) to a wide community but did not spread wide understanding of the underlying technology. The rise of XML and its adoption by major software houses suggests that use will become even more widespread. For some uses, a casual approach to XML may suffice. However, for records, product data, and other mission-sensitive information, DOE should take an active position on the development and use of SGML-related standards.

The rapprochement between SGML/XML and STEP/EXPRESS, as reflected in the joint proposals from SC34 and TC184/SC4, have a potential for benefit to DOE and Defense Programs. As DOE's weapons programs increasingly call for electronic data capture, there is a need for stable mechanisms for both capturing and cataloging the information. Particularly in the case of stockpile life-extension programs, there is a need for this data to be usable for decades after it is collected. Current methods of collecting the data do not offer adequate assurance that that the data will continue to be usable. If standard methods, based in SGML/XML are developed, their adoption and implementation should be a high priority for DOE.

Because DOE is one of the organizations adopting SC34 standards, it should continue active participation in SC34's work, particularly the revision of SGML and the application of DSSSL and HyTime. As DOE's use of these standards increases, the need for continued commitment to their maintenance and extension will increase as a consequence. DOE should also keep aware of developments in the realm of applications by participating in conferences and developers' groups. Furthermore, DOE should establish more internal means for sharing tools, techniques, and applications. Extension of the NWIG metadata system and construction of a comprehensive records system such as that proposed by the Y-12 Plant's WRAP project can profit from DOE's future support of SGML/XML. The Y-12 Plant, as the leader in development of SGML-related standards, is in a good position to continue also as a leader in their application.


Future meetings

SC34 has the following meetings scheduled for the next year:






29 November-3 December 1999




August 1999

Seoul, Korea



June 2000

Paris, France


Project meetings may also be scheduled between SC34 meetings.

SC34 continues to schedule most of its meetings in conjunction with conferences sponsored by GCA. These conferences generally deal with SGML, XML, HyTime, DSSSL, and related topics; combining meetings with the GCA conferences allows a reduction in the number of trips for experts who participate in both activities. My travel to this meeting was supported in part by GCA.

Granada Meeting Attendance
23 April 1999


Mr. Norm Chenard
2611 129 Ave.
Edmonton, Alberta T5A 3X7
Telephone: +1 403 452 4082
Internet: [email protected]
M. Michel Biezunski
High Text Electronic Document Engineering
5, rue d'Alsace
Paris, 75010
Telephone: +331-4205-9315
Facsimile: +331-4205-9248
Internet: [email protected]
Dr. Hans Holger Rath
STEP Stürtz Electronic Publishing GmbH
Technologiepark Würzburg-Rimpar Pavillon 7
Rimpar, D97222
Telephone: +49 9365 8062 0
Facsimile: +49 9365 8062 66
Internet: [email protected]
Mr. Ki-Joung Kang
Korea Telecom
17 Woomyeon-dong, Seocho-gu
Seoul 137-792
Telephone: +82 2 526 6555
Facsimile: +82 2 526 5568
Internet: [email protected]
Dr. Yushi Komachi
2-3-8 Shimomeguro,
Tokyo, 153
Telephone: +81 3 5434 7053
Facsimile: +81 3 5434 7158
Internet: [email protected]
Mr. Toru Takahashi
Hitachi, Ltd.
Information Systems R&D Division
Htiachi Systemplaza Shinkawasaki
890 Kashimada
Kawasaki City, 211
Telephone: +81 45 826 8553
Facsimile: +81 45 826 7818
Internet: [email protected]
Mr. Steve Pepper
STEP Infotek A.S.
Gjerdrum's vei 12
Oslo, N-0881
Telephone: +47 220 200 40
Facsimile: +47 220 200 41
Internet: [email protected]
Dr. Doris Bernardini
DoD/DISA/Center for Standards
10701 Parkridge Boulevard
Reston, VA 20191-4357
Telephone: +1 703 735 3566
Facsimile: +1 703 735 3256
Internet: [email protected]
Mr. Jon Bosak
Sun Microsystems
901 San Antonio Road
Palo Alto, CA 94043
Telephone: +1 650-786-6820
Internet: [email protected]
Mr. Marion Elledge
(GCA Liaison)
Graphic Communications Association
100 Daingerfield Rd.
Alexandria, VA 22314
Telephone: +1 703 519-8160
Facsimile: +1 703 548-2867
Internet: [email protected]
Dr. Charles F. Goldfarb
Information Management Consulting
13075 Paramount Court
Saratoga, CA 95070 U.S.A.
Telephone: +1 408 867 5553
Facsimile: +1 408 867 5794
Internet: [email protected]
Mr. Eliot Kimber
ISOGEN International Corp.
2608 Pinewood Terrace
Austin, TX 78757
Telephone: +1 512 339 1400
Facsimile: +1 512 339 1400
Internet: [email protected]
Dr. Lynne Price
Text Structure Consulting, Inc.
17225 San Franciscan Drive
Castro Valley, CA 94552
Telephone: +1 510 583-1505
Facsimile: +1 510 583-1505
Internet: [email protected]
Norman W. Scharpf
(GCA Liaison)
Graphic Communications Association
100 Daingerfield Rd.
Alexandria, VA 22314
Telephone: +1 703 519-8198
Facsimile: +1 703 548-2867
Internet: [email protected]
Ms. Marisa Topping
(ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34 Secretariat)
American National Standards Institute
11 West 42nd Street
New York, NY 10036
Telephone: +1 212 642 4932
Facsimile: +1 212 840 2298
Internet: [email protected]
Mr. Martin Bryan
The SGML Centre
29, Oldbury Orchard
Churchdown, Gloucester GL3 2PU
Telephone: +44 1452 714 029
Facsimile: +44 1452 714 029
Internet: [email protected]