Open Standards Processes

Jon Bosak Jon.Bosak at eng.Sun.COM
Fri Apr 24 20:18:21 BST 1998

Speaking of standards and industry consortia...

A lot of people subscribing to xml-dev might not be aware that there
is already an industry consortium for people who develop tools for XML
and related technologies.  That organization is called OASIS
(Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information

OASIS has been active since 1993 under the name SGML Open.  It
recently changed its name in recognition of the much wider role that
XML is going to be playing in the markup arena.  (In fact, the name
"XML Open" came in a close second to "OASIS" when alternative names
were being considered.  Sun was among the majority of members that
felt that the "XML Open" label is too limiting for an organization
devoted to product-independent document and data interchange in
general.)  The former SGML Open web site is being overhauled right now
to rearrange material and incorporate the name change; you can check
it out at, but be prepared for a lot of broken
links and a lot of stale references to SGML (just read "XML" wherever
you see "SGML" and you will get the new thrust of the organization).

OASIS is an established, well-organized industry consortium with a
proven track record.  It has done a lot of solid technical,
educational, and marketing work over the years in service of
interoperable open standards.  It hosts Robin Cover's well-known
SGML/XML web page, for example, and in the past has developed
technical recommendations for table interoperability, document
catalogs, and structured fragment interchange.  It is now gearing up
to establish conformance testing for XML applications.  OASIS members
include Adobe, ArborText, Chrystal, Ericsson, Folio, Fujitsu, Fuji
Xerox, GCA, IBM, Inso, Novell, O'Reilly, SoftQuad, Sun, Texcel,
Xyvision, and dozens of other companies and individuals.  It holds
regular technical meetings to discuss interoperability issues and
supports its members with joint marketing events at major trade shows.

The best part about OASIS for xml-dev subscribers is that individuals
and small companies can participate for as little as $400 a year and
can start to get some marketing support from the consortium for as
little as $800 a year.  If you consider yourself to be in the XML
tools business, you should be aware that there is an existing industry
consortium that can provide the marketing infrastructure needed to
promote your commercial interests.

The most important OASIS technical contributions have been in exactly
the space addressed by some of the activities in this list -- defining
protocols like the SAX interface that are necessary to complete and
implement the basic standards.  Impressive as it's been, I think that
a lot of the technical work people are engaged in here could be
carried out more effectively in the context of an established
organization.  And the resulting output from OASIS in the form of
submissions to W3C would have a vastly greater effect than the
suggestions of individuals in a mail list, no matter how well thought
out those suggestions might be.

In short, I think that the people who are distressed about their
inability to participate in a consortium dominated by big companies
should look into an already existing consortium that is designed
specifically to develop interoperability protocols and would be happy
to have their participation.


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