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New set of proposed dispositions posted, including more positive changes to the Ecma Office Open XML formats – Dispositions now proposed for more than half of National Bodies’ comments

Geneva, 11 December 2007

The ISO/IEC DIS 29500 Project Editor is on track to produce a final document by mid-January 2008, containing proposed dispositions of all comments received during the ballot period. Today, Ecma TC45 is publishing proposed dispositions to a number of additional comments. Today’s posting brings the total of comments with proposed dispositions to 1,766, or 50.1% of the 3,522 total comments received across all 87 voting countries.

In response to the comments provided by National Standards Bodies around the world, Ecma is offering numerous changes to the Open XML standard that will ultimately improve the format.

Ecma, together with the Editor, will continue to review the remaining National Body comments in the weeks ahead, and provide proposed dispositions as quickly as possible leading up to the mid-January deadline. These proposed comment dispositions will be available to National Bodies via a website portal in order to solicit feedback from National Bodies to the Project Editor, in application of the ISO/IEC confidentiality principles.

Ecma looks forward to continued cooperation and collaboration with ISO, IEC, and ISO/IEC JTC 1.

This update proposes some significant changes that we believe address a number of the National Bodies’ concerns. We believe these changes strengthen the Open XML standard, better serving its users. Examples include but are not limited to:


1 Allowing for ISO-8601 Dates

The original Open XML standard adopted by Ecma assigned a unique numeric value to each date in a spreadsheet, in order to improve the speed of date calculations. Based on the comments received from some National Bodies on this issue, DIS 29500 will be updated to allow date values to be stored using the format defined by the ISO 8601 standard.

2 Language tags

The original Open XML standard adopted by Ecma used a set of integer values to identify the language applied to regions of a document. Ecma is proposing that the language tags specified in the DIS should instead leverage an internationally recognized practice for representing languages, BCP 47 from IETF. This Best Current Practice uses the ISO 639 standard for languages and ISO 15924 for scripts. This proposal directly follows recommendations from National Bodies in several countries.

3 Page Borders

The original Open XML standard adopted by Ecma included support for a variety of graphical elements that could be used as page borders. Several National Bodies noted that this closed list of graphical elements was not sufficiently diverse and global in its contents. Based on that feedback, Ecma is proposing to change the Open XML standard to allow for custom page borders. This will enable implementers to determine the best option for including borders relevant to their applications.

4 Usage of ISO standards for grammars

The original Open XML standard used its own notation for defining the grammar for some of the more advanced functionality, such as spreadsheet formulas and word processing fields. Several National Bodies noted that the existing grammars in ECMA-376 are non-standard and were not fully described within the DIS. In response to this concern, Ecma proposes to revise the notation for spreadsheet formulas and fields to use an existing ISO standard. Formula notation will now use ISO/IEC 14977:1996 – Syntactic metalanguage – Extended BNF. This proposal improves the ability for implementers to test and validate conformance to the specification.

These are obviously just a subset of the 1,766 proposed comment dispositions published to date. Ecma will continue to work hard to review the remaining comments, and will work closely with the National Bodies to develop proposed dispositions for all of the comments received.


Tom Ngo (NextPage)
Ecma TC45



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