Former ECMA Sec. Gen challenges ISO/BRM critics to create a better process

Jan van den Beld, the man responsible for advising Microsoft to pursue a Fast Track route to OOXML standardisation, challenges critics of the ISO, ECMA process

The former Secretary General of ECMA International admits that there is some room for improvement in the ISO standardisation process that Microsoft's Office Open XML format has followed, but challenges critics of the process to come up with a better method.

Jan van den Beld was secretary general of ECMA from 1991 to 2007, and has been involved in over 200 Fast Track proposals. He was responsible for advising Microsoft to pursue through ECMA the fast-track process to ISO standardisation for its Office Open XML format.

"If people say this whole ISO process is lousy, out of date and doesn't work anymore or is broken, I challenge anybody to make a new worldwide process," van den Beld told PC World while in Australia working for the Computing Technology Industry Association.

PC World discussed with van den Beld some of the major criticisms Microsoft's OOXML format has faced on the road to ISO standardisation, including the criticism surrounding the week long Ballot Resolution Meeting in Geneva.

History of Fast Track process and why OOXML was Fast Tracked

Van den Beld said the fast-track process was created in 1987 by ECMA and a Japanese professor to hasten the standardisation process, which could take so long that by the time the standard was passed the technology it had standardised had evolved.

"The Japanese wanted to have an ISO standard for what was in fact the first optical disc. But even today JTC-1 takes on average 32 months to write a standard and this was far too long for an optical disc because by then you are already at the second generation," he said.

"There was a discussion between my predecessor and the head of activities from Japan into JTC-1 and they said 'we must find another way to do things'."

The idea they came up with was to relieve ISO of the time consuming technical work on the specification of the standard by doing it elsewhere - in ECMA - and then bringing that "lock, stock and barrel" to ISO.

"ISO then must of course have their say as well at the time, but then we can make it in less than 2 years, and that has been the basis of the fast-track proposal from ECMA," Van den Beld explained.

Since then ECMA has made around 250 fast-track processes, of which only three were not passed.

One of the reasons van den Beld cited for advising Microsoft to put OOXML on the fast-track route was to get the standard 80-90% percent out to the international community as quickly as possible, so that it could begin its evolution towards a complete standard. He calls this a "catch-up process".

"You have to make a trade-off I think between quality and speed because such type of standards like this, also ODF as it is in the same context, are evolutionary standards. They have to go through many more years of development, so the sooner you can bring them to the international community the better. That is my view at least and has been my view from the beginning," he said.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Andrew Hendry

PC World
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?