ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 34N0761

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TITLE: OASIS Submission to ISO/IEC JTC1 SC34 Plenary May 2006
SOURCE: Mr. James Bryce Clark
STATUS: Submission to opening SC34 plenary session in Seoul, Korea
ACTION: For information
DATE: 2006-05-29
DISTRIBUTION: SC34 and Liaisons

Dr. James David Mason
(ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 34 Chairman)
Y-12 National Security Complex
Bldg. 9113, M.S. 8208
Oak Ridge, TN 37831-8208 U.S.A.
Telephone: +1 865 574-6973
Facsimile: +1 865 574-1896
Network: [email protected]

Mr. G. Ken Holman
(ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 34 Secretariat - Standards Council of Canada)
Crane Softwrights Ltd.
Box 266,
Telephone: +1 613 489-0999
Facsimile: +1 613 489-0995
Network: [email protected]

Submission to the ISO/IEC JTC1 SC34 Plenary
Report from the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Systems (OASIS)

May 2006


  • Introduction
  • Brief Progress Report on ISO/IEC 26300
  • Progress in Standards Collaboration
  • Methods for Collaboration in Standards Maintenance and Development

Dear colleagues:

We are pleased to be able to join the Subcommittee for its plenary in Seoul this week. We would like to extend our thanks to the local meeting sponsors, the Korean Agency for Technology & Standards, for their very congenial hosting, as well as the many instances of assistance and support that our community has enjoyed over the past decade.  Korean governmental bodies and industries occupy a special place globally, as one of our most creative and robust communities of global adopters and implementers of open standards for e-commerce. OASIS is pleased to have several Korea-led technical committees, as well as a Korean language version of our main news feed that is archived at:

and may be subscribed by a message to:

[email protected].


OASIS is a member-led, international non-profit standards consortium concentrating on open standards for global e-business. As you know, OASIS has a number of specifications and projects that give us a strong interest in the methods developed in and supported by SC34. This domain will increase in strategic importance.  Some of the foundational global standard methodologies for structured information -- what the ISO/IEC 14662 model calls the functional service view (FSV) -- are becoming stable and widely used. Other parts of the FSV seem likely to resolve and commoditize over time. To some degree, vendor and press attention continues to focus on elaborations and options for XML and its associated methods, SOAP, ebXML, the first web services standards and so on. But as these FSV features become tooled and available, the attention and needs of XML developers and implementers increasingly turn to richer functions and business content -- the 14662 model's "Business Operations View".  A central focus of this increased demand is knowledge management and the interfaces of XML artifacts with human intelligence. This returns our community  to a stronger focus on the same issues of knowledge representation that gave birth to SGML and XML (and OASIS, originally named SGML Open), as well as the interests of SC34.

Among projects at OASIS with a strong focus on K.R. issues are:

OASIS Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) TC,

OASIS Extensible Resource Identifier (XRI) TC,

OASIS Open Document Format for Office Applications (OpenDocument) TC,

OASIS Published Subjects TC,

OASIS Semantic Execution Environment TC,

OASIS XRI Data Interchange (XDI) TC,

These join a number of other important OASIS projects with relationships to the work of SC34, including:


OASIS OpenDocument Format (ODF) Adoption TC,


OASIS is pleased to be an active Category A liaison to JTC1 SC34, and to enjoy various shared interests and members with the Subcommittee's activities. We look forward to a continued strong and productive relationship.

Brief Progress Report on ISO/IEC 26300

OASIS and our OpenDocument Technical Committee were very pleased to see the broad ballot response and helpful suggestions from JTC1 and SC34 participants in the recently successful ballot on our submission of the Open Document Format for Office Applications v1.0 to JTC1, to become an International Standard pursuant to the JTC1 PAS rules:

As I believe the Subcommittee is aware, our OASIS TC has reviewed and is processing the helpful comments provided via JTC1, and will report to OASIS a technical recommendation shortly, which we will review and bring forward, as appropriate, as the disposition report of the PAS submitter. It is our hope that we will be able to incorporate a number of the helpful comments that have been received, consistent with the rules of both organizations, and the need to respect the integrity of the substance of the technical work to which the ballots relate.

As disclosed in our original PAS submission for transposition, OASIS and its TC plan to conduct the ongoing maintenance of the submitted specification, including the collection and promulgation of errata, implementation experience and possible feedback towards future improvements. The TC's current members have indicated that they are prepared to remain involved in order to support this effort. OASIS has requested that any change or improvement proposals be cycled back through an OASIS technical committee for inclusion in errata (if the correction of a defect) or a future v2.0 version (if in the nature of amendment or revision), to be developed by OASIS. If future major versions with substantive changes are advisable, OASIS expects to seek to offer them for re-transposition by JTC1, after OASIS approval under its usual rules, in support of OASIS' policy goal to ensure convergence and avoid "forked" specifications.

Progress in Standards Collaboration

OpenDocument is only one of a number of our successful submissions of OASIS Standards to the international de jure standards authorities. OASIS submitted its four completed specifications comprising the e-business XML (ebXML) project in 2004, and CEFACT submitted its Core Components methodology as the fifth part later that year:

The remaining elements of ebXML are being completed by OASIS for submission to ISO, along with updates (by the original OASIS technical committees) in the form of versions 3 of the v.2 works submitted as ISO 15000:

In addition to the submission of OpenDocument to JTC1, OASIS and ITU-T currently are completing the approval process for the submission of the widely known OASIS Standards for security:

Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML),

eXtensible Access Control Markup Language (XACML),

These specifications bring a rich degree of security assertion, access policy and identity management taxonomy and capability to XML-using systems. Issuance of the final specifications as ITU-T Recommendations is expected this summer. OASIS has made and is contemplating several additional submissions to de jure bodies and other standards consortia, to further the promotion and widespread adoption of its work, and open standards generally, in a global connected information environment.

Methods for Collaboration in Standards Maintenance and Development

We are in the early days of some aspects of our field of information and structured data. The speed of development of (and demands for) wider, scalable uses and an ever-increasing list of features is remarkable. In some cases, our shared community has more experience with inventing standards than finalizing and maintaining them. Multiple parallel and sometimes substitutable methods often are under development. There are uncertainties associated with a variety of innovations and changes to information models and computation services, including the emergence of free and open source software methods, and the uneven application of patent, licensing and trade regulation rules to this field.

Nevertheless, we should view the slight degree of chaos in our field as signs of strong demand and robust experimentation, and welcome this high level of activity with open arms. The main cohort of XML-based e-business and e-commerce data standards is only now just starting to stabilize and mature. OASIS strives to serve as a facilitator both for this experimentation, but also for the resolution of its outputs into modular parts, optimized for combination into diverse systems and with multiple legacy methods. Our submissions to the international de jure organizations, and plans for continued collaboration there, are in service of those goals.

In pursuing those goals, we are learning some preliminary lessons that we are pleased to share as observations with our colleagues in JTC1.

  • An open, transparent, heterogenous process is essential. To assure both quality and global relevance, the standards criteria established by global trade agencies (as well as many national governments and commercial users) stress the process quality of standards development organizations. There must be genuine opportunities for public and user input, coupled with a development and versioning practice that supports their evaluation and incorporation in predictable, measured sequences. Obvious sources of guidance include the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade and JTC1's own PAS criteria.
  • Rules are not enough. There must be a spirit of inquiry, improvement and cooperation, both to indicate a genuine willingness to improve, and sufficient process and leadership to drive that improvement. Even the best-run and fairest venue can accidentally become a monoculture if there is not continual effort to include and fulfill the needs of many users and many vendors in a diverse world of implementation. At times, a fine idea may suffer simply for being exposed to an insufficient variety of implementations.
  • We are writing for a permanent audience, not next fiscal quarter's headlines. This may be a principle comfortable for and familiar to ISO/IEC, but it occasionally is a surprise in some of our own innovation-driven and commerce-oriented communities. Standards are agreed compromises;  safe and sound compromises take time; making them safe (through consultation and consensus) often takes more time than a method's proponents might initially expect.
  • Each standards organization represents its own ecology of users and stakeholders. That ecology reaches compromises, or at least homeostasis, and issues specifications informed by its own experience, domain needs, licensing rules and style. It has been our observation that attempts to create joint or composite special bodies for collaboration often are difficult. The participants and stakeholders in each standards community exercise considerable effort to assess, and norm themselves to, the rules and ecology of a given organization. In that sense, we have brought them into our community, which is a good thing: often a single enterprise or organization will happily join multiple projects, once they've reached a level of comfort with the sponsoring venue. But when we create some new structure, they often must re-assess from the start whether to join, contribute or fund the activity.

Even the best alliances are not perfect. Participating groups often must find a basis for confidence that a resolution system, or graceful degradation path, is in place if agreement is not reached across various boundaries. So we have generally found more success with serial work between organizations, permitting collaboration with sequential review, but bound together by four necessary elements:

  • Clear terms of reference and cooperation, with provision for success and failure both.
  • Some degree of shared participation, to convey continuity of purpose.
  • A concentration on modularity, allowing composition with multiple options and environments, as opposed to hewing to a central mandated architecture or device set.
  • Thoughtful, diplomatic efforts to respect the needs of each organization, and ensure genuine responsiveness on both sides, while maintaining a community of purpose and shared progress.

We are pleased that OASIS' collaboration here with JTC1 SC34 may serve as a model for that approach, and hope that it will be helpful for other organizations. Thank you again for the opportunity to work cooperatively with your organization.

Respectfully submitted,
James Bryce Clark
Director of Standards Development
May 2006