The early tallies I have of the number of comments from national bodies DIS 29500 is about 3,550: I expect there are an awful lot of duplications though. Is that a lot?
A question on this came up on XML-DEV this weekend.
Tim Bray said
The task of addressing all ten thousand or so ISO-member comments, even after removing dupes, and dealing with the callouts to unspecified product behavior, and so on, with no assurance that doing so would result in ISO blessing, seems just insanely expensive and difficult to me. If those guys take it on, they have my respect and sympathy.
Michael Kay responded
Actually, 10,000 comments on a 6,000 page spec doesn’t sound like a large number to me. If I had less than two comments per page on a book or spec I had submitted for technical review, I would be concerned that the review wasn’t thorough enough. Perhaps people were holding back because they don’t want to provide MS with a free QA service.
And Jim “ISO SQL” Melton added
Or perhaps most people were somewhat intimidated by the prospect of (thoroughly) reviewing a 6,000 page document. To put this in perspective for those who know SQL’s size and complexity, the sum of all nine parts of SQL is about 3950 pages. A ballot on SQL frequently receives several thousand comments, and we’ve been balloting versions of SQL for 20 years!
In fact, virtually every large spec I’ve ever had the “pleasure” to review leads to “thread-pulling”, in which every page yields at least “one more” bug, and following up on that one leads to more, and following up on those leads to still more, etc. I would personally be stunned if 30 dedicated, knowledgeable reviewers of a 6,000 page spec on its first public review were unable to find at least 3,000 unique significant problems and at least 40,000 minor and editorial problems. But that’s just me…
And here is a comment from my blog a few week’s ago:
A big standard will have a lot of changes. If my 30 page standard had 10 changes in its final stages of national review, then DIS 29500 will have about 1000 changes at the same rate (assuming it has 3000 normative pages, which is probably too much). That is just the slog in getting a standard out the door, tedious work not a cause of panic.
So my bold prediction is that the extreme anti-OOXML squad will alternate incoherently between “Its too many! We have to draw the line somewhere!” and “Its not enough! It is beyond the powers of mankind to read this thing!” while MS PR will alternate reactively “Its wonderful and thorough! Long live openness” and “We can do it in our sleep!” And the ISO process will continue calmly on, disappointing the bullies and the racists and the cartel-izers and the sour-grapers and the parrots, and deliver a good initial version of the standard. I think many reasonable people who had reasonable concerns about DIS29500 will see that the process actually has allowed their concerns to be addressed, and will see through the hysteria for what it is.
By the way, a toad recently has suggested that my comment to Standards Australia recommending a No with Comments vote represented some kind of venal attempt to redeem or repent or re-brand myself, as if I have ever been against a Ballot Resolution Meeting per se. In fact, I predicted that there would be a Ballot Resolution Meeting with a good number of comments back in March on this blog:
In five months time…there will be a ballot of the national bodies… I expect that OpenXML will have a lot of “No with comments”, which happens sometimes….
After this ballot, we all wait two or three months. This gives everyone time to draw their breaths, gird their loins, examine each other’s positions, and prepare responses. Then there [will be] a ballot resolution meeting, at which all the issues are dealt with; the meeting may respond with a fix to the DIS, or with a comment that this is an issue for further study and enhancement, or they may to decline to fix the problem, or they may say that it is not a problem in their opinion.
And another comment from me on the same page:
What is note-worthy, I think is that the focus of finding contradictions is on getting them resolved so that the DIS or its successor can be put on track again. It is mistake to think about ISO procedures in terms of guilty/innocent right/wrong good/bad judgments, and the triumphant detection of showstoppers, rather than in terms of mediating agreements.