ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC34 N0334


Information Technology --

Document Description and Processing Languages

Title: Report of Official Foreign Travel to Spain
17-29 May 2002
Source: James D. Mason, Chairman, JTC1/SC34
Project: All SC34 Projects
Project editor: All SC34 Editors
Status: This report was submitted to the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Agency as part of the requirements for official travel by the author.
Date: 24 June 2002
Distribution: SC34 and Liaisons
Refer to:
Supercedes: SC34 N228
Reply to: Dr. James David Mason
(ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34 Chairman)
Y-12 National Security Complex
Information Technology Services
Bldg. 9113 M.S. 8208
Oak Ridge, TN 37831-8208 U.S.A.
Telephone: +1 865 574-6973
Facsimile: +1 865 574-1896
E-mailk: mailto:[email protected]

Ms. Sara Hafele, ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 34 Secretariat
American National Standards Institute
11 West 42nd Street
New York, NY 10036
Tel: +1 212 642 4976
Fax: +1 212 840 2298
E-mail: [email protected]


Y-12 National Security Complex

Report of Official Foreign Travel
to Spain
17-29 May 2002

James David Mason
Internet, SGML, and Integration Services
Information Technology Services

15 June 2002

Prepared by the
Y-12 National Security Complex
Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37831
managed by
BWXT Y-12, L.L.C.
for the
under contract DE-AC05-00OR22800


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.




In support of DOE's use of SGML, XML, HTML, and related 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 May 2002 trip, I chaired the spring 2002 meeting of SC34 in Barcelona, Spain. I also attended XML Europe 2002, a major conference on the use of SGML and XML sponsored by IDEAlliance; chaired the annual meeting of the International SGML/XML Users' Group (ISUG); and participated in meetings of and related technical committees sponsored by OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards).

Supporting standards development allows the Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) and the Y-12 National Security Complex (Y-12) the opportunity both to provide input into the process and 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, XML, and related topics.

Note: This report continues a series, the most recent of which, Y/WPP-031, reported on the August 2002 meeting of SC34/WG3and the IDEAlliance conference Extreme Markup Languages 2001 in Montréal, Canada. Copies of documentation for all SC34 meetings are available from the SC34 site on the Web: ( This report is available on the SC34 Web site at Hyperlinks in the online report connect it to the documents it references.


Over the course of the past two decades, SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language, ISO 8879:1986) and its applications, including HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), and profiles, most notably XML (Extensible Markup Language), have come to dominate the interchange and use of structured data. SGML and many of the standards related to it were developed and are maintained by ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34 (SC34), which I chair.

The SC34 project gaining the most attention recently is Topic Maps (ISO/IEC 13250:2000), which describes metadata structures for organizing and indexing large collections of information resources. The Topic Map standard seems poised to have a major effect on knowledge-management applications. Topic Maps are being used in the knowledge base for the Ferret analytical engine developed at Y-12 and are being investigated as a mechanism for maintaining and publishing classification guidance on a DOE-wide basis. Topic Maps also have good potential as a structuring tool in other knowledge-preservation activities.

In May 2002, I attended a series of meetings in Barcelona related to the support of SC34 standards and their application. SC34 and its Working Group 3 (SC34/WG3), Information Association, which is responsible for Topic Maps, met on Saturday, 18 May. The XML Europe 2002 conference, sponsored by IDEAlliance, followed during the next week. On Thursday, 23 May held a plenary meeting, and on Friday the OASIS Published Subjects technical committee met.

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

The SC34 meeting was held at the Princesa Sofia Hotel in Barcelona, Spain. The attendance at the spring meeting of SC34 included 30 experts from 8 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and two external liaison bodies (ISUG and OASIS).

The opening plenary was held on Saturday, 18 May 2002, with reports from national bodies, liaison organizations, and project editors. After the opening plenary, SC34 broke into its component Working Groups: Markup Languages (WG1), Information Presentation (WG2), and Information Association (WG3). Following the pattern established in 2001, we held SC34 plenary sessions at the beginning and end of the IDEAlliance conference, with WG meetings scheduled before the conference and then at free intervals during it.

Working Group Meetings

WG1: Markup Languages

SC34/WG1 is responsible for SC34's oldest ISO standard, SGML (ISO 8879:1986), the basis for many other SC34 standards as well as for the W3C's XML suite of recommendations. SGML is stable and well supported. 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 concentrated on its project "Document Schema Definition Languages (DSDL)," which is to provide a pipelined facility for combining mechanisms for defining XML document structures and validating instance documents. The major output from the WG1 meeting was a text of RELAX NG, part 2 of DSDL, which was sent out for its final ballot as a Draft International Standard (DIS). (The text of the DIS is available at SC34 has previously published a predecessor project, RELAX [Regular Expression Language for XML], as a technical report. RELAX NG, which considerably updates the project, has previously been published as an OASIS standard at

The Recommendations of the WG2 meeting are available online at

WG2: Information Presentation

SC34/WG2 continued maintenance of its standards on fonts and related topics, as well as of SPDL (Standard Page Description Language, ISO/IEC 10180) and DSSSL (Document Style Semantics and Specification Language, ISO/IEC 10179). New DSSSL applications are entering the commercial market, including one for printing Braille. The WG2 Convenor also presented a report on WG2 activities at the GCA conference.

The Recommendations of the WG2 meeting are available online at; the meeting report is at

WG3: Information Association

SC34/WG3 works mainly on matters of hypertext and multimedia documents and linking. The new Topic Maps (ISO/IEC 13250, standard, published last year, occupies most of WG3's effort. In the past year, WG3 has incorporated the XTM rendition of a topic map into the standard, in addition to the original HyTime rendition, now called HyTM (the revised standard, ISO/IEC 13250:2002, is available at

WG3 is currently concentrating on the development of a Reference Model and a Standard Application Model for topic maps in preparation for the development of topic-map query and constraint (schema) languages. New versions of both models were presented by their editors and analyzed by the WG.

The Recommendations of the WG3 meeting are available online at; the meeting report is 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 high level of participation in its work and by the excitement that DSDL and Topic Maps are generating. The increase in the number of projects related to schema languages and Topic Maps, as well as the consolidation of the technical work in SC34, reflects the maturing of these areas of standardization.

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. Documents distributed during the meeting are listed in Appendix C.

Conference: XML Europe 2002

IDEAlliance, (formerly the Graphic Communications Association, 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 already 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.

The XML Europe 2002 conference, which generally had several concurrent tracks, was too vast for me to absorb by myself (I have the proceedings in electronic form for anyone wanting to inspect them). Much of the attention at the conference (and the associated vendor showcase) is on EC technology. Many vendors are showing tools for putting existing databases and product catalogs on the Web using XML technology. However, there also seems to be a resurgence of some of the traditional SGML/XML applications, such as high-quality publishing.

The track on Topic Maps and knowledge management continues to draw attention, as it did last year in Berlin. I attended most of the sessions, looking for refinements for my ideas about how to apply Topic Maps to local projects and for tools to aid in the manipulation and visualization of data represented in maps.

The conference was quite lively, and there is a continuation of rapid growth of interest in the SGML/XML world and, more importantly, support for SGML/XML applications.

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 ( ISUG regularly sends a delegation to SC34 meetings and provides editors for several standards, including HyTime and Topic Maps. This is my fourth year as president of ISUG. At the Annual General Meeting, held in conjunction with XML Europe, we discussed ways of improving our outreach and services to members. ISUG continues to improve its newsletter, which is now the only technical journal concentrating on fundamental issues in SGML and XML technology. Copies of the ISUG newsletter are available in my office.

OASIS Meetings is the operating name of the group that created the XTM (XML Topic Map) interchange specification. Having accomplished its initial goal of developing XTM, it has passed the technical work back to SC34/WG3. The group is now in the process of becoming a member section of OASIS. As part of OASIS, will be able to promote the use of Topic Maps and develop applications and profiles for using Topic Maps. OASIS has just received Liaison status in SC34. I serve as the interim technical lead in and as the SC34 liaison to OASIS. In addition to the proposed member section, the Topic Maps community has three OASIS technical committees. I participated in a meeting of one committee, which is concerned with means for dealing with and documenting "published subjects" for topic maps (published subjects are a means of establishing reference points to be shared among topic maps).

(OASIS is an established industry consortium that was formerly known as SGML Open. OASIS, in cooperation with the United Nations, has developed the ebXML electronic-business specification. They have cosponsored numerous conferences with GCA, and one of their committees is responsible for maintenance of DocBook, an XML document specification that is widely used in publishing documentation for the computer industry.)

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 related standards 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, interpretive knowledge bases, and other mission-sensitive information, DOE should take an active position on the development and use of SGML-related standards.

The growth of Topic Maps and other XML-based mechanisms for knowledge engineering has potentially great impacts on mission-critical information for DOE and NNSA. As NNSA'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 the data will continue to be usable. Adoption and implementation of standard methods based in SGML/XML should be a high priority for DOE and NNSA.

The application of XML and Topic Maps to knowledge management in projects such as that for the knowledge base for the Ferret classification engine should be pursued. This technology will aid the creation and maintenance of knowledge bases, as well as the extension of the Ferret engine beyond to new applications. The projects in the Information Classification and Control Policy organization to develop an XML-based publishing system for classification guidance and a topic-map guidance-management system are examples of how this technology can be applied.

Because DOE is one of the organizations adopting SC34 standards, it should continue active participation in SC34's work, particularly the work on Topic Maps. 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. Ferret technology seems a good candidate for extension to other DOE facilities and perhaps for commercialization as well. Y-12, as the leader in development of SGML-related standards, is in a good position to continue also as a leader in their application. The systems for publishing and managing classification guidance will perhaps show a way for even wider DOE application of XML techniques.


Future meetings

SC34 has the following meetings scheduled for the next year:





3-4 August 2002



7-12 December 2002



May 2003

Amsterdam or Brussels

Project meetings may also be scheduled between SC34 meetings.

SC34 continues to schedule most of its meetings in conjunction with conferences sponsored by IDEAlliance. These conferences generally deal with SGML, XML, HyTime, Topic Maps, and related topics; combining meetings with the IDEAlliance 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 IDEAlliance.

Supplementary documents

The attendance list from the SC34 meeting.

The Resolutions from the SC34 meeting.

The documents issued during the meeting.