ISO/IEC JTC1/SC22/WG15 N690
October 28, 1996
Canadian Response to N596
- The term "Open Systems" has been over-used to the point where it no longer conveys any meaning.
- Use of the term "de facto standards" elevates commercially popular implementations to a higher level than is warranted.
- Document N596 perpetuates the commonly held public misperception that there is a hierarchy of "standards".
In the context of WG15 a standard (in French, norme) is a normative document (document normatif) that provides rules, guidelines or characteristics for activities or their results. The term "normative document" is a generic term that covers standards, technical specifications, codes of practice and regulations. "A standard (norme) is established by consensus and approved by a recognised body that provides, for common and repeated use, rules, guidelines or characteristics for activities or their results, aimed at the achievement of the optimum degree of order in a given context."
- Therefore in the (ISO and WG15) context that N596 was presented, the document fails to clearly articulate the following points:
- A "specification" is separate and distinct from an "implementation".
- A "standard" (norme) is a specification that has been approved and promulgated by a nationally or internationally recognized and accredited standards body. (see above - also commonly known as a de jure standard)
- The term "publicly available" refers not to an attribute of a specification, but to one's perceptions about the specification. A number of distinct and separate factors make up this perception:
- availability and distribution rights
- How does one obtain the specification?
- Can one give it to someone else?
- associated licences and fees
- How much does it cost to obtain the specification?
- Does one have to join any organisation (and be bound by its rules and conventions)?
- change and interpretation process
- How does one change the specification or ask for a clarification?
- How much does it cost for the privilege of suggesting a change or asking for a clarification?
- Vendor consortia or associations are not considered to be nationally or internationally recognized and accredited standards bodies.
It is not clear that mere wordsmithing could correct these deficiencies therefore Canada cannot express support for the position presented by this document but would welcome any new contribution from France that expressly addresses each of these issues.
Note: This position is an amalgamation of recent opinions expressed by members of the Canadian POSIX Working Group. While it represents the consensus of opinion as I understand it, it has not been formally approved or endorsed by the working group and therefore may be subject to change. - [David Blackwood Head of Delegation]