• http://codeflow.org/ Florian Bösch

    Maybe, thanks to open source, the sausage days of standard making will be behind us. I hope so.

    Ah-ha-ha, hum, h-a ah-aahhaha. Maybe you should drop by some of these committees where we merry open something folks participate. I can confirm, it’s still all sausage factory, all the way down.

    • Steven Vaughan-Nichols

      Oh, I know open-source all too well and even Debian food-fights aren’t as bad as most of the standard wars I’ve seen. The key difference is at the end of day in open source you have to have working code. I’ve seen finalized standards that described almost totally fictional technologies.

  • PH

    Great read Stephen, standards really are hard work and rely on countless hours from dedicated volunteers that all have day jobs. Alas the principals of open source development don’t seem to translate as easily to hardware technologies. The good news is that engineers of all ilk seem willing to embrace community models to move their ideas forward, and standards organizations benefit from this underlying trait.

  • Sam Johnson

    “Apple manages to get it own way of doing things – from Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) for music format”

    Except that AAC is an MPEG standard that was not created by Apple. AAC was developed by Bell Labs, Dolby, Fraunhofer, Sony and Nokia and declared a standard in 1997 which is 6 years before Apple started selling music in the format.

  • Decade

    You can’t possibly be so naive, so I think you just wanted to have a tidy sentence to conclude the article.

    You already mentioned Wayland vs. Mir. I think that will resolve tidily: Only Canonical is supporting Mir, so that will live if Ubuntu Phone takes off, or it will die if Shuttleworth runs out of money.

    The bigger fight is systemd vs. upstart. Again, that’s a fight of Canonical vs. the world, but this time it’s dragging in Debian. Just look at the process the Technical Committee is using to determine which init system to recommend for the next version of Debian. Clearly, by technical merits, systemd would win. But some members of the committee are current or former Canonical employees, and Ian Jackson in particular is not going down without a fight.

    • Steven Vaughan-Nichols

      If you look really closely, Mir vs. Wayland, it’s really Red Hat vs. Canonical. Like so many other standard wars before it, it’s really a business-driven one. Systemd v. upstart is also Red Hat vs. Canonical. Lots of open-source people only focus on the technology, with a lot of “We hate Ubuntu” thrown in, but, once more, it’s really a business clash in technical clothing.

  • Stephen Lemelin

    Stephen you points on how business, not technology drives standards is so true. You mentioned many different fields from electricity to electronics. I believe there was big issue with train rail standards in the US for a while due to the same business issues.
    My concern is how this will translate into things like the auto and/or connected car. I think it may have been a good idea for the government to get in on this and help dictate the standard. Normally I am not a fan of the government getting involved, but in this case it may help.

    • Bill Wade

      Speaking as someone involved in a standards body – no. You don’t want government involvement. All that means is the parties to the standards process take their arguments to their respective representatives (along with a hefty campaign donation) and then the argument is moved to DC, wherein the technical and market merits of the proposed solutions are shoved to the wayside.

      • Stephen Lemelin


        Great point after the rulings from the supreme court that allowed unlimited money in politics and corporations as people, it makes sense. Government cannot be counted on as a neutral party,

      • Steven Vaughan-Nichols

        I have to agree. NIST and the like are fine for cleaning up… after the work is done, but you don’t want the govt. in early. You really, really don’t.

    • Thorson

      I was the author of a standard initiated by a government agency. It took years off my life (or so it seemed). The process was years in the making, with involvement from a lot of folks who wanted to be vendors to the government agencies using the standard. Then there was the problem of folks who missed a meeting and at the next would argue vigorously against changes made at the meeting they’d missed; and get agreement. I finally quit when the document was changed so many times back to what had previously been approved and then changed again.

      When I looked at the version that was finally approved, I didn’t recognize it at all. I’m quite surprised that it even succeeded. Perhaps my rant when I quit had some effect because the standard was approved only three months after I quit.

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  • Rob Grainger

    I’m still clueless why XML is regarded a good interchange format for anything.
    I mean why say something once when you can needlessly it

    • Bill Wade

      I held that same position ten or so years ago. But the ability to delegate much of the error checking on inbound data to a validating reader saves quite a bit of coding. And it’s much harder to argue the semantics of a well-written, well-documented schema than it is to argue over a prose specification.

      • Rob Grainger

        I get that, I’ve used XSD extensively, but still dislike the redundancy of information. JSON is better, but could do with some kind of schema standard.

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