Meeting Report:
Plenary Meeting of ISO/IEC JTC1/SC22
11-15 September 2000, Nara, Japan

Prepared by: James W. Moore, +1.703.883.7396,, 11 July 2000.

I attended this meeting as the convener of SC22's Working Group 9 (Ada). I also serve as the liaison between SC22 and SC7.

Goals and Results for the Meeting

I entered the meeting with four goals for the work of WG9:

  1. Goal: Schedule an SC22 ballot to approve the Technical Corrigendum to ISO/IEC 8652:1995, the Ada programming language standard. Result: The SC22 Secretariat will conduct a letter ballot starting in October of a Corrigendum and related documents that I will deliver approximately 30 September. All of this material was developed by Axe Consulting under a subcontract to The MITRE Corporation as part of its support to the U. S. Army; the material was forwarded to ANSI by MITRE and contributed by ANSI to SC22/WG9.
  2. Goal: Secure SC22 approval to withdraw an obsolete technical report: ISO/IEC TR 11735:1996, EXTensions for real-time Ada. Result: SC22 agreed to withdraw the Technical Report. Routine processing by JTC1 and ISO Central Secretariat will implement withdrawal by the end of 2002.
  3. Goal: Persuade SC22 to volunteer in the recently announced trial for the inexpensive availability of standards, and failing that, to persuade SC22 to allow WG9 to participate. Result: SC22 agreed to participate. Details are described below.
  4. Goal: Secure SC22's approval of an additional three-year term for me as convener of WG9. Result: In accordance with normal procedures, SC22 reappointed me subject to the endorsement of the United States National Body.

In short, all of these goals were achieved.

Inexpensive Availability of Standards

SC22 passed the following resolution regarding participation in a trial period for inexpensive availability of standards:

Resolution 00-12: Inexpensive standards publication

The standards within the purview of ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC22 represent a special opportunity for experimenting with inexpensive electronic distribution. The ability to search electronic documents or cut code fragments (for example API's) from them makes an electronic version more useful than a paper one. Furthermore language standards are of use to both users and implementors so that the demand is sensitive to pricing and lower prices should result in substantially larger sales.

Thus, ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC22 requests JTC 1 seek ISO council approval for inclusion of all ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC22 standards in any trial on inexpensive electronic availability of standards.

It is expected that the JTC1 trial will permit standards to be made available on a web site for download at a nominal price, say, US$25.

JTC1 Strategic Planning

At the request of the SC22 Chair, I conducted an SC22 Study Group on the proposals of the JTC1 Special Group on Strategic Planning. The results of the Study Group were summarized as document SC22 N3177 and endorsed by a resolution. The document is reproduced in an appendix to this report.

Other Items

SC22 terminated its liaison with ECMA TC41 and terminated its Java Study Group. All of this is fall-out from Sun's refusal to participate in a meaningful standardization process for Java.

JTC1 has extended the trial period permitting the development of standards that make normative reference to documents other than international standards.

John Hill was elected to a three-year term as Chairman of SC22.

Future Meetings

Appendix: SC22 N3177, Discussion of Proposals of JTC1 Special Group on Strategic Planning

Characteristics of SC22

SC22 has responsibility for programming languages, systems software interfaces and programming environments. Each of its Working Groups operates relatively independently. They generally meet independently of each other and of SC22 itself. However, because the subject matters of the various Working Groups have important similarities, regular interaction through SC22 and through internal SC22 liaison is an essential resource to the conveners. Some of the WGs predate the formation of SC22 and JTC1.

It should also be noted that components of SC22 belong to two different Technical Directions. SC22 understands that there will always be a need for cross-SC (or cross-Technical-Group) liaison regardless of how any reorganization is implemented.

The customers for the work of SC22 are user programmers as well as product implementers. There are a wide variety of customers including individuals, corporations of all sizes, academia and government. The communities served by our standards also vary in size from small niches to the very large.

The standards written by SC22 are generally large--perhaps an order of magnitude larger than a typical Information Technology standard. It is not unusual for portions of these standards to be written in artificial languages rather than natural language. Many of the standards include computer code fragments which must satisfy the correctness criteria common in programming languages.

The standards written by SC22 tend to have a very long life but are revised relatively frequently. SC22 employs a relatively rigorous defect reporting and resolution process. Defect reports are relatively common because of the size, complexity and formal correctness requirements of the standards.

It should also be noted that the procedures of SC22 permit Working Groups to "subcontract" technical drafting to National Bodies.

Possibilities for Restructuring

There was general consensus that SC22 should be retained as a Technical Group in the proposed new organization. It was believed that the administrative and management services provided by SC22 are valued by the Working Groups. Most participants in WGs attend for the purpose of technical interaction. Performing administrative work would not be highly valued within the WGs and would be a disincentive to participation.

SC22 realizes that the proposed reorganization might provide the freedom for procedural innovation within the Technical Groups. SC22 agrees that this might be advantageous in the future. However, at the current time, SC22 has no projects or Working Groups that are candidates for a different organization. Furthermore, it was stated that changing the organization of existing projects would have the undesirable effect of disorienting the existing work. We anticipate, though, that some future projects might be able to take advantage of innovative organization. In short, SC22 welcomes the freedom to utilize innovative organizations in the future, but does not desire reorganization of existing projects.

Possibilities for Participation

Reports from the conveners of existing Working Groups indicated that changed participation rules for currently ongoing projects would be undesirable because of the possibility of disrupting existing consensus. There was also concern expressed that alternative forms of participation (particularly any trial period where participation might occur WITHOUT a fee) would have the effect of draining needed technical resources from National Bodies, hence complicating responsible balloting by NBs at the Management level.

SC22 concluded that any decision regarding innovative participation should be made on a project by project basis. New projects and/or new Working Groups would be likely possibilities. SC22 believes that any monies collected through broader participation should be used to subsidize the Secretariat of the Technical Group within which the participation occurs.

SC22 concluded that during any trial period, various SCs should be empowered to develop their own procedures for broadened participation. This would provide a variety of experience for JTC1 to consider when formulating a permanent policy.

A Question regarding the Proposed Reorganization

During the discussion, a question arose regarding the handling of DIS ballots in fast-track and PAS submissions. Technical comments are permitted in DIS ballots. As we understand the proposed reorganization, DIS ballots would be conducted at the Management level which would lack the resources to dispose of technical comments. This suggests that all DIS ballots for fast-track and PAS submissions should be performed in a Technical Group or in consultation with one.