ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC34 N0333


Information Technology --

Document Description and Processing Languages

TITLE: JTC1/SC34 Management Report And Business Plan for the JTC 1 Plenary, Sophia Antipolis, 21–25 October 2002
SOURCE: James D. Mason, Chairman, JTC1/SC34
PROJECT: All SC34 Projects
STATUS: Chairman's report
ACTION: For information of JTC1
DATE: 18 September 2002
SUMMARY: SC34 project status, target dates, assignments, meeting schedule
DISTRIBUTION: SC34 and Liaisons
REFER TO: SC34 N315, Resolutions of the Barcelona meeting of SC34; SC34 N331, Recommendations of the Montréal meeting of SC34/WG3
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 Desautels, ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 34 Secretariat
American National Standards Institute
25 West 43rd Street
New York, NY 10036
Tel: +1 212 642-4937
Fax: +1 212 840-2298
E-mail: [email protected]


Period Covered: December2001 -- November 2002

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


Note: Because JTC1/SC34 is the successor organization to two previous 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:

Structure of Subcommittee

SC34/WG1 -- Markup Languages

Convenor: Dr. Charles F. Goldfarb (U.S.A.)

The activities of Working Group 1 include:

SC34/WG2 Information Presentation

Convenor: Dr. Yushi Komachi (Japan)

The activities of Working Group 2 include:

SC34/WG3 Information Association

Convenor: Mr. Steve Pepper (Norway)

The activities of Working Group 3 include:


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 and TCs have been published. It was reaffirmed by JTC1 balloting at its five-year reviews in 1991, 1996, and 2001. The World Wide Web's HTML and XML are the two best-known uses of SGML and have drawn wide attention to SGML and related SC34 standards.

The development of XML has led to the creation of alternative systems for specifying the allowable structures in SGML and XML applications, in addition to the DTDs (Document Type Definitions) specified in ISO 8879. One alternative, the W3C's XML Schema (, has been controversial throughout its development, and acceptance has been much less than universal. Alternative schema mechanisms have attracted considerable attention, and SC34 has become, along with OASIS, a center for standardization of schema notations.

SC34 is now developing Document Schema Definition Languages (DSDL, 19757), a multipart standard that establishes a framework for schema validation. DSDL allows multiple schemas, written in multiple schema languages that establish different kinds of constraints, to apply concurrently to a single instance document. DSDL also standardizes several such schema languages, including RELAX NG and Schematron, and methods for specifying datatypes in DTDs and schemas. DSDL has resulted in greatly increased participation in WG1 in the past year.

RELAX NG (, which began as an OASIS standard, is out for FDIS ballot.. It is the successor to RELAX , which JTC1 approved as a Type 3 TR (ISO/IEC TR 22250 ( SC34 has objected to the approval as a violation of the Fast Track process because it is a Type 2 TR, not a Type 3 (SC34 N213 and N225). Moreover, the TR can be confused with, and contradicts the terms of, RELAX NG component of DSDL, which is under development as a standard.

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. One Technical Corrigendum has been published in the past year, and an amendment to the standard is in progress.

SC34 has completed the Fast Track process for DSSSL library(ISO/IEC TR 19758), which is now in approved stage for ITTF publication.

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

SPDL was published in December 1995. Although it was not active for a period, it has been recommended for reaffirmation, a new defect editor has been appointed, and a Technical Corrigendum has been processed.

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. Because of changes in the publishing system at ISO CS, Part 11 has been revised to bring it up to date with current practice at the ISO CS.

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. Amednments, revisions, and extensions continue. A new RA for ISO/IEC 10036 has been established in Japan.

The Font Services project (JTC1.34.33) resulted in ISO/IEC TR 15413 (Font Service - Abstract Service Definition), which was published Mar. 15, 2001

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), was moved into JTC1 through the Fast Track process. Final text was published in 1999.

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 have been 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 Technical Corrigendum 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 13240, Interchange Standard for Modifiable Interactive Documents (ISMID)

The Interchange Standard for Modifiable Interactive Documents (ISMID, ISO/IEC 13240) was published in 2001.

Project JTC1.34.67 Topic Maps

Topic Maps (ISO/IEC 13250) was published in January 2000. This project is experiencing a great deal of increased activity and bringing new participants to SC34. In 2002, SC34 published a revised edition of the standard to incorporate XTM, an XML-based interchange syntax for Topic Maps that was developed by, which now functions under the aegis of OASIS (see below).

SC34 has had several projects approved for WG3, particularly in the area of models in support of Topic Maps and projects for a Topic Map Query Language and a Topic Map Constraint Language. The Montréal meeting of WG3 (August) cocentrated the Reference Model and Standard Application Model for Topic Maps..


The final text (based on HTML 4.0) for an ISO version of HTML (ISO/IEC 15445) was published in December 2000.

A Technical Corrigendum has been published in the past year.


SC34 cooperates strongly 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. (The SC34 Chairman is the President of ISUG: In the past year, OASIS (the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards,, an industry consortium working in the field of SGML, XML and structured graphics languages, has opened another liaison with SC34.

As mentioned above, SC34 has close cooperation with the Topic Maps-related committees of OASIS.

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 has become an immense class of SGML applications, SC34 sees the need for increasing cooperation with the World-Wide Web Consortium (W3C). SC34 had informal liaison with the W3C in the early days of XML. SC34 has approved a statement from its W3C representatives that proposes Category C liaison for the W3C. However, the person performing liaison duty has not been active in the W3C lately. A new liaison is needed.

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 SC34 contributed to an effort in TC184/SC4 to harmonize the approaches of SGML and their standards.

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 believes 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 the WWW, the W3C is likely to become not only a competitor but a supplanter of the ISO and of JTC1 in particular.

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


SC34 has met twice (Walt Disney World, December 2001; Barcelona, May 2002) in the past year. SC34 has 12 declared P members (Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Norway, United Kingdom, and United States) and 5 O members (Australia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, and Sweden), as well as two Category A external liaison bodies (SGML Users' Group, OASIS). SC34 also has Category C liaison with the World-Wide Web Consortium (W3C), though it is not active. SC34 also maintains liaison with JTC1/SC32, ISO TC184/SC4, and TC46. At the Barcelona meeting, representatives were present from 8 national bodies (Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and both external liaison bodies (SGML Users' Group, OASIS). (Attendance roster from Barcelona available at

WG3 met in Montréal, Canada in August 2002.

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 recent years 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.

The new standard on Topic Maps has generated an extraordinarily high level of interest in the year since its publication. Conferences are already being planned on the subject, and the XML transfer syntax developed outside JTC1 is being folded back into the base document. We expect to be generating amendments and corrigenda in the coming year, as well as estiblishing related projects.

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 an official WWW server for SC34 (

The SC34 Chairman also maintains 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 has been transferred to the Scholarly Technology Group at Brown University ( The U.S. Department of Energy, a primary sponsor of the work, maintains another set of paper archives at the Office of Scientific and Technical Information (

SC34 has begun online discussion of projects between meetings, using a controlled distribution. The Topic Maps project in WG3 has its own mailng list,,

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.


Regular meetings  
Walt Disney World (Orlando), Florida, U.S.A.   8–13 December 2001
Barcelona, Spain   18–22 May 2002
WG meetings    
Montréal, Canada   10–12 August 2002

Future meetings planned for 2002–2003 include:

Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A.   7–12 December 2002
London, England   3–8 May 2003
WG meetings    
Montréal, Canada   August 2003

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 old operating assumption of national standards bodies, that the sales of copies of standards would finance a large part of the process of standards development, rund contrary to current market forces. The market seems to require open, free access to standards, along the model employed by the W3C. Unless such a model is adopted rapidly in JTC1, market forces may drive standards adopters elsewhere.

Furthermore some of SC34's newest and most popular standards (e.g., Topic Maps) require that data related to the standards be openly available on the Internet or the standards will not work. If JTC1 expects use of such SC34 standards to grow, it will have to accept that the standards and related data exist on open Web sites.


In the past reporting year, SC34 has published one ISO/IEC technical report and revised several standards. New draft standards, amendments, and technical corrigenda have been published or are in progress.

SC34's current status is reflected in its documents, notably SC34 N315, Resolutions of the Barcelona meeting of SC34, available from the SC34 Web server.


Adequate resources are only available in SC34 for work on SGML and related standards, particularly HyTime and its derivative, Topic Maps. The highest level of activity is in the area of Topic Maps, followed closely by Document Schema Definition Languages.

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. There is other interest, particularly among the East Asian members, but little participation from Europe or the Americas. DSSSL has received some attention and is being revised. Only minimal maintenance is currently possible on this set of standards unless more resources are found.



SC34 expects additional work (particularly on models and support languages) to Topic Maps in the next year. A revision of DSSSL is possible in the next year. More work in the area related to DSDL is expected.


SC34 feels it is a successful, if small SC. SC34 hopes to establish better liaisons with organizations like the W3C and OASIS.

SC34 is continuing its policy of holding its plenary meetings in conjunction with the XML conferences sponsored by the IDEAlliance (formerly GCA, Graphic Communications Association), which allows more people active in the XML industry to participate.

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 for 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 W3C has seemed 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 and schema languages, on projects to support Topic Maps, and work derived from these standards 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 maintenance on the Fonts and DSSSL, standards.

Progression of the SGML-related part of SC34's program will largely depend on JTC1's policies on Internet distribution of its standards. Without free distribution online, this portion of SC34's work continues to be in jeapordy of moving out of JTC1 and into other organizations.