ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC34 N0099


Information Technology --

Document Description and Processing Languages

TITLE: Business Plan for JTC1/SC34 for the year 2000 (JTC1 N5939)
SOURCE: James D. Mason, Chairman, JTC1/SC34
PROJECT: All SC34 Projects
STATUS: Chairman's report
ACTION: For information of JTC1
DATE: 1 October 1999
SUMMARY: SC34 project status, target dates, assignments, meeting schedule
DISTRIBUTION: SC34 and Liaisons
REFER TO: SC34 N62, Resolutions of the Granada meeting of SC34
REPLY TO: Dr. James David Mason
(ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34 Chairman)
Oak Ridge Y-12 Plant
Information Technology Services
Bldg. 9113 M.S. 8208
Oak Ridge, TN 37831-8208 U.S.A.
Telephone: +1 423 574-6973
Facsimile: +1 423 574-1896
Network: mailto:[email protected]


Period Covered: December1998 -- November 1999

Submitted by: Dr. James David Mason, ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34 Chairman


Note: Because JTC1/SC34 is the successor organization to two previus bodies, JTC1/SC18/WG8 and JTC1/WG4, many of its projects and liaisons have extensive histories going back before the establishment of SC34.


To produce standards for languages and resources for the description and processing of compound and hypermedia documents, including:

  • Standard Generalized Markup Language and support facilities
  • Document processing architecture and formatting for documents represented in SGML
  • Final-form document architecture and Standard Page Description Language
  • Font architecture, interchange format, and services
  • Glyph architecture and registration procedures
  • Hypermedia document structuring language and application resources
  • Content architectures and content notations for document architectures defined or supported by "Document Description and Processing Languages" standards.

Structure of Subcommittee

SC34/WG1 -- Information Description

Convenor: Dr. Charles F. Goldfarb

The activities of Working Group 1 include:

  • SGML (ISO 8879)
  • SDIF (ISO 9069)
  • Registration Procedures for SGML Public Identifiers (ISO/IEC 9070)
  • Technical Reports (ISO TR 9573)
  • Conformance Testing for SGML System (ISO/IEC 13673)
  • APIs for document processing

SC34/WG2 Information Presentation

Convenor: Dr. Yushi Komachi

The activities of Working Group 2 include:

  • DSSSL (ISO/IEC 10179)
  • Fonts (ISO/IEC 9541)
  • Font Registration (ISO/IEC 10036)
  • SPDL (ISO/IEC 10180)
  • Font Services (ISO/IEC TR 15413)

SC34/WG3 Information Association

Convenor: Steve Pepper

The activities of Working Group 3 include:

  • Hypermedia
  • HyTime (ISO/IEC 10744)
  • Topic Navigation Maps (ISO/IEC 13250)
  • ISMID -- Interchange Standard for Modifiable Interactive Documents (ISO/IEC FCD 13240)
  • HTML (ISO/IEC 15445)
  • SMDL (ISO/IEC 10743)


SC34 presently has its original two primary projects dating back to JTC1/SC18/WG8, JTC1.34.15, Computer Languages for Processing Text, and JTC1.34.27, Description and Identification of Glyph Fonts. SC34 has also been assigned several later projects, also described below.

Project JTC1.34.15.1, SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language) (ISO 8879:1986)

SGML is a completed standard for which an amendment has been published. It was reaffirmed by JTC1 balloting at its five-year reviews in 1991 and 1996. A comprehensive internal review to determine what revisions or enhancements are desired as a result of evolving user requirements during SGML's years of use is continuing. The process of finalizing DSSSL and developing a technical corrigendum for HyTime has resulted in additional information that can contribute to a potential revision.The rapid growth of the Internet, particularly the World-Wide Web and XML, has drawn wide attention to SGML and related standards.

A Technical Corrigendum (TC) has been published that covers all the alterations needed to SGML to support XML fully.

Having comleted the necessary support for XML, WG1 is turning its attention to a restatement of the standard in more modern terminology.

Project JTC1.34.15.5, Text-Entry Systems

Only one project remains under this item, Project JTC1.3415.5.1, Guidelines for SGML Syntax-Directed Editors (ISO TR 10037), which was published as ISO/IEC TR 10037. There is no active work in this area.

Project JTC1.34.15.6, Text Composition

Both projects in this group have resulted in ISO standards

Project JTC1., DSSSL (Document Style Semantics and Specification Language), ISO/IEC 10179

DSSSL was published in April 1996. Work towards a revision of the standard will be considered at the November 1999 meeting of SC34.

Project JTC1., SPDL (Standard Page Description Language), ISO/IEC 10180

SPDL was published in December 1995. It has largely been superseded by later technology and might be a candidate for withdrawal.

Project JTC1.34.15.7 SGML Support Facilities

The first and third parts of this project, SDIF (ISO 9069) and Registration (ISO/IEC 9070), have been published. An amendment to ISO/IEC 9070 was approved that provides for equivalencies of structured names in SGML and ASN.1 representations of documents and makes ISO 9070 a generalized naming standard that is aligned with ISO 8824. A second edition of ISO/IEC 9070 has been published.

Techniques for Using SGML (ISO TR 9573) is being revised to add some new parts and to merge informative material that has been carried as parts of other projects. The part on public entities for mathematical and scientific publishing (including material that was in the annexes to ISO 8879) has already been published as Part 13. The part that documents the SGML-based system used by ISO Central Secretariat to produce texts of standards has also been published as Part 11. Another part on public entities for non-Latin alphabets has been balloted as Part 15 and ballot responses are being considered. A part on Using SGML for Computer to Computer Interchange (Notation Declarations for Data Encoding Standards) has been balloted as Part 9, and a final text is being prepared. The proposed Parts 1--6, tutorials on the SGML language and basic techniques, have been deferred completion of the revision process for ISO 8879:1986. Whether this work is continued will depend in large part on policy at ISO concering open access to electronic content.

Project JTC1.34.27, Fonts

ISO/IEC 9541, Parts 1, Architecture, 2, Interchange Format, and 3, Glyph Shape Representation, and ISO/IEC 10036, Glyph and Glyph Collection Registration Procedures, have been published. The standards continue to be maintained.

The Font Services project (JTC1.34.33) balloted a text for Part 1, which passed as a CD. A disposition of comments and a new text were prepared. However, in the absence of active participation at a level necessary to produce a standard, SC34 has decided to convert the existing text into a TR, so that the work is not lost.

Project JTC1.34.36, ISO/IEC DIS 13673 Conformance Testing for SGML Systems

This project, developed within the U.S. National Body (though with international consultation), has been moved into JTC1. Final text has been prepared and will be delivered for publication.

Project JTC1.34.39, Hypertext and Multimedia

Project JTC1.34.39.1, ISO/IEC DIS 10743, Standard Music Description Language (SMDL)

A DIS text for ISO 10743 was balloted, results are being analyzed, and a final text is being prepared.

Project JTC1.34.39.2, Hypermedia/Time-based Structuring Language (HyTime)

ISO/IEC 10744 is a published standard. A TC was balloted in 1995, and a final text was published as a second edition of the standard (ISO/IEC 10744:1997). SC34 is processing an amendment and a TC to the revised standard.

Project JTC1.34.43, ISO/IEC FCD 13240, Interchange Standard for Modifiable Interactive Documents (ISMID)

This work has been replaced by the Interchange Standard for Modifiable Interactive Documents (ISMID), which has just been balloted as a Final CD. The November 1999 meeting of SC34 will continue processing the project.

Project JTC1.34.67 Topic Navigation Maps

A FCD text for Topic Navigation Maps (FCD 13250) was balloted, and a FDIS text has been forwarded to ITTF for FDIS ballot processing.


A FCD text (based on HTML 4.0) for an ISO version of HTML (FCD 15445) has been balloted. The FDIS text has been forwarded to ITTF for FDIS ballot processing.

A revised version, to support the W3C's conversion of HTML into XHTML (making HTML into an application of XML) is under discussion.


SC34's major area of cooperation is with its user community. SC34 has long had a strong liaison with the International SGML Users' Group, which regularly sends a delegation to SC34's meetings. (Since the last meeting of SC34, its Chairman has become the President of ISUG.) Now, with the Internet making heavy use of HTML, which is a single application of SC34's major standard. SGML, and moving towards XML, which is a potentially very large class of SGML applications, SC34 sees the need for increasing cooperation with the World-Wide Web Consortium (W3C). SC34 has had informal liaison with the W3C for more than a year. SC34 has approved a statement from its W3C represenatives that propses Category C liaison for the W3C.

SC34 has also established liaison with ISO TC184/SC4, which is responsible for STEP/EXPRESS. Both SGML and STEP/EXPRESS are designed to structure collections of data, particularly documentation, and TC184/SC4 has approved a new work item to harmonize the approaches of SGML and their standards. SC34 expects to participate in this work

SC34's relationship with the W3C has so far been quite good. The editors of SC34's ISO-HTML have worked closely with the W3C HTML editor to make sure that the ISO standard reflects the W3C's design. The XML effort began with heavy participation from SC34 experts, and SC34's recent work with technical corrigenda to SGML has been in large measure intended to address issues identified during the development of XML. SC34 has worked with the W3C to ensure that XML is a well-defined subset of the SGML standard from which it is derived. SC34 belives the W3C is ready to establish even stronger liaison. However, there remains a probability that the XML process, being pushed by large corporations that do not participate in the JTC1 activities, will run away from the ISO. In the absence of a means to make the ISO process, particularly the publication of standards, more appropriate to thew WWW, the W3C is likely to become not only a competitor but a supplanter of the ISO.

SC34 has long had communication with other JTC1 groups. The Fonts project in SC34 was done in cooperation with SC2, and SC34 members contributed to ISO/IEC 10646. We are now looking forward to cooperation with TC184/SC4 in the joint project to harmonize STEP, SGML, and XML.


S34 has met once (Granada, Spain, May 1999) since the most recent JTC1 Plenary in Brazil. SC34 has 13 P members (Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, United Kingdom United States and 2 O members (Germany, Sweden), as well as 2 external liaison bodies (SGML Users' Group and CERN). SC34 also has liaison with the World-Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to develop an ISO Standard based on HTML and to support the XML class of SGML applications; SC34 expects this liaison to be made official. SC34 also maintains liaison with ISO TC184/SC4 for joint projects.

For its continuing high level of activity, SC34 can give several reasons. Aside from the long-standing general interest of SC34's projects to the publishing and technical documentation community, we have continued to benefit from the many organizational adoptions of applications of our work, including an increasing number of governmental and private bodies. We are particularly pleased at the increased presence of SGML on the Internet, notably through the World-Wide Web (WWW). On the WWW most documents are marked up in HTML, which is an application of of SGML. In the past year the W3C's XML (Extensible Markup Language), which is a class of applications of SGML, has gained wide attention and support from major vendors such as Microsoft and Sun. SC34 has worked with the W3C to ensure smooth support for XML in the SGML standard from which it is derived.

SC34 adopted fully electronic distribution of its documents several years ago; it has adopted ISO-HTML (a subset of W3C HTML 4.0) as its distribution format. The SC34 Secretariat at ANSI has established a new official WWW server for SC34 (*space*34&Organization=ISO*slash*IEC&TechComm=JTC*space*1).

The SC34 Chariman also maintains both an FTP server ( and a WWW server ( to provide historical access to SC34, JTC1/WG4, and JTC1/SC18/WG8 documents. The archival collection of papers from the time when JTC1/SC18/WG8 and its predecessors (back to TC97 EGCLPT) still distributed paper documents is being transferred to the Graphic Communications Association (GCA, a component of Printing Industries of America), a long-time supporter of the projects. The U.S. Department of Energy, another primary sponsor of the work, maintians another set of archives.

SC34 has begun online discussion of projects between meetings, using a controlled distribution. SC34 expects the use of electronic processing to grow in the next year.

We expect that the next year will maintain the current momentum, sustaining the rapid development of our projects. Our continuing high level of participation this year has been gratifying.

1999 Meetings

Regular meetings
Granada, Spain 19 -- 23 April 1999
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 29 November -- 3 December 1999

Future meetings planned for 1999 include:

Paris, France

June 2000

Eastern U.S. Autumn 2000

For the present, SC34 intends for its WGs to meet with the SC34 Plenary to facilitate cooperation among projects.


SC34's traditional marketplace was in technical documentation, in large-scale commercial publishing, particularly of reference works, and in several areas such as legal publishing and insurance. The SGML presence in these areas has grown steadily over the past decade. Recognition that HTML was based on SGML raised the visibility of SC34's work considerably. Recognition of the limitations of HTML led to the creation of XML, and interest in that, particularly from the area of electronic commerce, has exploded in the past year. Attendance at the conferences sponsored by the Graphic Communications Association, which have been the historical forum for SGML activities, reflects this growth of interest: the increase has become almost exponential.

On the one hand, SC34 feels good about the interest in its standards. On the other hand, the rapid growth of market demand and the growth of participation in the W3C activities rather than in JTC1, reflects a potential for the JTC1 process to become irrelevant. The market seems to require open, free access to standards, along the model employed by the W3C. Unless such a model can be adopted rapidly in JTC1, market forces may drive standards adopters elsewhere. SC34 has prepared a paper on this topic as its N86, which has been distributed to JTC1.


In the past year, SC34 has brought two projects to FDIS status and completed one technical report.

SC34's current status is reflected in its documents, notably N0062, Recommendations of the Granada Meeting, available from the SC34 Web server.


Adequate resources are available in SC34 for work on SGML and related standards, particularly HyTime. At the recent Chicago meeting of SC34, much of the WG 3 activity was planning for future work on Topic Navigation Maps (CD 13250), which is an application of HyTime. WG 1, having completed its SGML TCs, was able to return to revision of the base standard, ISO 8897:1986.

SC34 is suffering from a lack of resources in the Fonts work. We currently have a project editor, the Convenor of WG2, who also works in the SGML area. Only minimal maintenance is currently possible on this set of standards unless more resources are found.



As the SC34 Programme of Work indicates, we have several documents that are intended for completion in the new reporting period that begins with the November 1999 meeting. These include ISMID, Topic Maps, and Standard HTML. Work will continue on SGML Revision. Standard HTML may itself enter a revision cycle, depending on the schedule of the W3C.

Our new project is the work with TC184/SC4 on interoperability among STEP, SGML, and XML. This project, with support from the U.S. Deparment of Defense, should move rapidly in the next year.


SC34 is pleased to become a full SC on its own, particularly because it will allow us to establish better liaisons with organzations like the W3C and the ITEF. We also believe SC status will allow us to draw more attention to work that is currently suffering from lack of resources, such as Fonts.

SC34 believes that its move to electronic discusion between formal meetings will increase its productivity and allow quicker response to requirements coming from the industry.

3.2.1 RISKS

The greatest risk for SC34's projects is that the rate of change in the user community, particularly in that part represented by the W3C, will cause the pace of development of industry application standards to exceed ISO's capacity to respond with prerequisite facilities in our base standards. Fortunately, SC34's working style, with its heavy emphasis on use of the Internet, has so far enabled us to keep pace. However, if a more open policy to the distribution of standards is not adopted, SC34 sees perhaps insurmountable difficulties in the future.


The world of XML presents great opportunities for SGML and related standards. The leadership of the W3C XML committee wants to keep the present alignment between XML and SGML. Making XSL (XML Style Language) a valid application of DSSSL and keeping general alignment between XLL (XML Link Language) and HyTime is also seen as desirable. The W3C seems open to having links between its work and ISO standards and perhaps even of making some of them into ISO standards. Taking advantage of these opportunities may, however, require rapid, radical changes in ISO's approach to making standards accessible on the Internet.


SC34 feels that its current emphasis on SGML, HyTime, DSSSL, and work derived from them is appropriate and that it has sufficient resources for that work. Additional resources would also make it possible to do more than the current minimal level of maintenace on the Fonts standards.