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RE: [xml-dev] NY Times reference to 'secret coding'

As far as I understand, the ISO/IEC Directives impose strict requirements on
any specification that is referenced within an International Standard in
such a way that it is indispensable to the application of that standard.
Among other requirements, the referenced specification must be publicly
available and have authoritative status (as a specification) and the authors
must agree to make it available on request.

I haven't looked at the OOXML documents, but I have read on this list that
they contain many references to undocumented features of existing products.
I infer that there is no publicly available specification that specifies
those features.

So I am puzzled.  Does OOXML introduce a number of terms without definition
(or features incompletely specified) which the reader is tacitly requested
to associate with existing software products?   Or does OOXML contain actual
references to concrete documents or other artifacts?  

In the latter case, I think OOXML would not meet the requirements of the
ISO/IEC Directives on referencing of external specifications.  In the former
case, I think OOXML would still be unacceptable as an ISO/IEC standard
because some terms and some concepts used within it are not completely clear
and not fully understood or not completely specified.  In either case, there
may be enough reason for this standard to be stopped regardless of its
technical merits or of any market-related considerations (on which I take no

I would like to know the answers.  I take no position on the value of OOXML
as a standard, but I care about the ISO/IEC process.

Alessandro Triglia

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