Danish Delegate Disputes OOXML Standard Vote

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By voting to adopt a standard based on Microsoft's OOXML document format, the Danish national standards body has approved an unknown text against the wishes of the main representatives on its own technical committee, according to a technical committee representative from the Danish city of Aarhus. He has now made a formal complaint to Dansk Standard about the OOXML vote.

The complaint came from Jens Kjellerup, IT manager at the City Executive for Children and Young People in Aarhus, who sat on the Dansk Standard technical committee that assessed adoption of the Microsoft format as an international standard by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

He believes that Dansk Standard has voted for a standard that no one knows the true meaning of, because the final version has not yet been published.

"It is strange that you vote yes to a standard that could still be full of errors and shortcomings. The standard could well say that the moon is made of green cheese, and yet it was voted for," said Kjellerup.

He also expressed surprise that in the first vote on OOXML in September, Dansk Standard voted "no with comments," backed by a unanimous vote of its technical committee, and then changed its vote to a "yes" in March -- although the committee this time was full of disagreement.

"The only committee members who have recommended a yes are the commercial parties. Users and representatives from science recommended a no vote," said Kjellerup.

Kjellerup thinks the largest stakeholder groups, researchers and user representatives, have been ignored in the committee.

Dansk Standard has not yet responded to the complaint from Jens Kjellerup.

"Aarhus municipality suggests that we must change our yes vote, but we cannot," said the deputy director of Dansk Standard, Jesper Jerlang.

He explained, however, that the consequence of complaints may be that the final approval could be delayed.

"Dansk Standard must, however, ensure that things are implemented properly. It can only be done when we have the ability to see the standard," said Jerlang, adding that the organization's main task is to ensure that the 168 Danish comments on the standard were taken into account.

Anyone can, in principle, complain to Dansk Standard of its decision on the OOXML issue. Then it's up to the organization's management to rule on the complaints received.

"A complaint must, however, be about promised changes that are not implemented properly in the standard," said Jerlang.

"Often it is members of the committee who have the greatest insight into the specific discussions who make stronger complaints than those who have not participated in the committees," he said.

Ultimately, only Dansk Standard and the other national standards bodies that took part in the ISO vote can complain about and influence ISO's technical board to change ISO's decision.

This story, "Danish Delegate Disputes OOXML Standard Vote" was originally published by Computerworld-Danmark.

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