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AFNOR announces proposals for revisable office document formats

Over the course of these discussions, the different stakeholders (including software suppliers, users, members of the public and local authorities) demonstrated the need to have ISO recognition of the OOXML format.

Where multiple document format specifications exist, the French experts have shown that a convergence is feasible between OOXML and the ODF format – the latter being already standardised today as ISO/IEC 26300 – thereby tending towards a single, revisable document format standard.

Based on these widely shared findings, and although no consensual position could be reached at the close of discussions over the best short- and medium-term solution, AFNOR has made the following recommendations to the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO).

Firstly, to restructure the ECMA standard in two parts so as to differentiate between, on the one hand, a core of essential and simple functionalities to be implemented (OOXML-Core) and, on the other hand, all the additional functionalities required for compatibility with the stocks of existing office document files created by numerous users, which will be gathered within a package called OOXML-Extensions. Secondly, AFNOR proposes to take into account a full series of technical comments submitted to the draft in order to make OOXML an ISO document of the highest possible technical and editorial quality. Thirdly, it proposes to attribute to OOXML the status of ISO/TS for three years.

Finally, AFNOR proposes to set up a process of convergence between ISO/IEC 26300 and the OOXML-Core. In order to achieve this, AFNOR will begin the simultaneous revision of ISO/IEC 26300 and of ISO/TS OOXML (subject to the latter being adopted after the aforementioned restructuring), so as to obtain the most universal possible single standard at the end of the convergence process. Any subsequent evolutions will be decided upon at ISO level and no longer at the level of such a group or category of players.

To reach the objective outlined above and initiate the emergence of this convergence process, AFNOR has decided, for the time being, not to accept in its current form the text proposed by ECMA. From a technical point of view, this has led AFNOR to cast a negative vote against the draft as it is currently presented. This negative vote is, however, accompanied by comments, which AFNOR requests to be taken into account in order that it may reconsider its position.

AFNOR has committed itself to making this position known and to promoting it at an international level ahead of the next stage, which is scheduled for February 2008, when the comments of different countries will be examined.


AFNOR is the French member of the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO). AFNOR is the central operator of the French standardisation system, which brings together experts, standardisation bureaux and public authorities. It was entrusted with this mission by a French government decree dated 26 January 1984.

Philip Jolly | alfa
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