OASIS not a haven for all
13:54, 14 Feb 2000 UTC | Edd Dumbill

Last week's discussions about SAX and OASIS have exposed varying perceptions of the role and nature of the consortium.

Jon Bosak refuted the claim that OASIS presented "closed doors" to the XML community:

"There are no closed doors in the OASIS process. All OASIS TC mailing lists are open to public view. The $250 membership dues entitle you to *write* to the lists; reading is free to everyone, and there are no confidentiality rules to prevent open discussion of what goes on in OASIS TCs in lists such as xml-dev."

Bosak goes on to note that OASIS could actually give SAX more protection than it currently has:

"OASIS IPR works the same way as IETF IPR and really does protect collaborative intellectual property development in the way that most people think 'public domain' does but actually doesn't."

Simon St.Laurent welcomed Bosak's guarantees about open doors, but pointed out that the OASIS web site does not yet seem to fully document the activities of the consortium. He was not convinced that the protection OASIS could afford SAX and its users was not a double-edged sword:

I think you've somehow decided that a committee of paying members is a democracy while a well-coordinated mailing list project is a dictatorship. Simultaneously, you've placed the interests of large agencies and corporations above the needs for smaller organizations for small flexible and low-cost standards that work today.

OASIS certainly seems to need to improve its relations with the XML developer community. A post from Don Park illustrated the dim perception of OASIS held by some of the members of the XML-DEV list.

Peter Murray-Rust did not see things in quite such an extreme manner. He notes that XML-DEV has a great part to play in innovation and "bottom-up" development of XML technologies. Murray-Rust also made the point that the fact OASIS now hosts the XML-DEV list did not compromise the list in any way.

The challenge facing the XML-DEV community, he said, is migrating from early adopters to cautious late adopters:

The challenge, therefore is how we support the unfettered innovation on XML-DEV, move the results to proof-of-concept, early-adoption and then migrate it by some means to a certifiable protocol.

Bosak's contention is that OASIS provides a way to move from early-adopter status to stability and credibility with larger, more cautious, organizations. The consequences of non-adoption by larger organizations may well be vendor-dominance and a loss of interoperability.

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