Monday, September 03, 2007

Nigeria supports OOXML

Nigeria, weekend at the end of one-day session in Lagos with focus on DIS 29500 “Office Open Extensible Markup Language (OOXML)” obviously voted to support its standardisation by the International Standards Organisation (ISO).

XML is a World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) initiative that allows information and services to be encoded with meaningful structure and semantics, which computers and humans could understand. XML is great for information exchange, and could easily be extended to include user-specified and industry-specified tags.

This development came as Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) alleged that the OOXML has over 200 flaws.

The meeting held at SON headquarters in Lekki-Lagos, was in line with the ISO JTC-1 directive paragraph 48 section 9.8, which required national bodies to reach a consensus and precisely vote “NO with comments” if there remain unanswered technical problems.

The Nigeria’s session was dominated by Microsoft’s officials and partners including government officials.

Chairman of the occasion and Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Prof. Cleopas Angaye, said that Nigeria stands to benefit immensely from the standardisation of OOXML by ISO, especially in the areas of local software development.

Prof. Angaye who was represented by the agency head of public affairs, Mr. Inye Kemabonta, also said that Nigeria’s support of OOXML would translate into major reduction in the cost of acquiring and managing government applications.

NITDA boss equally said that OOXML is interoperability and could enable optimisation of broadband utilisation in the country, adding that though there could not be any categorical statement on the outcome of the meeting, there is still room for dynamic contributions.

While advising few dissenting voices from the CSOs to forward their claims of multiple flaws in the OOXML, Prof. Angaye emphasised that OOXML could be accepted if is technically sound.

Also speaking, Director of Standards at SON, Mr. Charles Okoro, informed that the meeting was to afford Nigeria the opportunity of harmonising its stand on the proposed standard, which is in its initial draft with final voting on this draft slated for yesterday, Sunday, September 2, 2007.

According to him, the final voting on the proposal would be held likely by next year, adding that those who do not have their say at this initial stage could still make input before the final adoption come next year.

He promised that SON would always keep the Nigerian stakeholders abreast of development in the issue and expressed joy in their honouring the invitation to discuss the initial draft.

Nigeria, he said, has grown in rank of participation within the ISO schemes and currently contributed to 18 standards from previously 14.

Meanwhile, CSOs seemed to have boycotted the meeting due to the number of attendance from the non-governmental bodies. Out of the estimated 19 participants, only four supposedly represented civil society group, while the rest were made up of government officials and Microsoft partners.

It was further gathered that top notchers of CSO in the country travelled out and could not make the meeting or even sent representatives.

Daily Champion recalled that earlier some members of CSO had sounded a note of warning, arguing that OOXML has several flaws that make it fall short of admission into a global standard, more so by ISO at this era when open standard is the in thing.

“The DIS 29500 “Office Open XML” (OOXML) does not meet the criteria defined by ISO and others for an International Standard, “ CSOs had insisted, stressing it is an immature documentation of one vendor’s proprietary document format, which depends on software patents held by this vendor.

This, CSOs noted, blocks interoperability, hence its in conflict with existing ISO standards.

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