Some Questions on ETSI and Localization Standards: An Interview with Patrick Guillemin (ETSI Secretariat)
There have been a number of questions about the practical results of LISA standards going to ETSI. In an effort to bring some clarity to this situation, I contacted Patrick Guillemin of the ETSI Secretariat for more details. Our discussion addresses some of the key concerns we have heard.
Arle: Can you tell me what sorts of standards will the Localization Industry Specification Group (ISG) will work on?
Patrick: That’s really up to the ISG, but the primary focus will be on technical standards related to localization. There are many areas of standardization work and we see a collaborative approach as the best way to ensure that they all happen. The ETSI ISG on “Localisation Industry Standards” (LIS) formed by common and important ETSI and LISA Members will recreate and maintain former LISA standards as ETSI ISG LIS Group Specifications (GS) using ETSI Rules, maintain the localisation standards, and offer a platform for future localisation standards. Relevant localisation standards from other standards bodies will duly be taken into account by the ISG LIS using the extended cooperation agreement portfolio of ETSI.
Arle: Patrick, you mention collaboration. Can companies and individuals that are not members of ETSI participate in this new ISG? Will they have to join ETSI—which can be quite expensive—to participate?
Patrick: The LIS ISG is free to set its own participation policies. Companies and individuals that are not members of ETSI are free to join the ISG if the ISG sets policies that allow this to happen, which is what the ISG founding members have stated is their intention in this case. Companies that participate in this capacity are full participants in the ISG and may participate in all ISG activities. (ISG members are not entitled to participate in ETSI activities outside of the ISG, however.)
Here ISGs have an important difference from ETSI Technical Committees: Participation by non-members in Technical Committees is limited in duration and some activities, while ISGs do not face the same limitation (unless they set rules on that end themselves). We are currently finalizing the participation rules for the ISG, but these rules will be very open. Note that the default rules for participation in ISG’s differ from what the LIS ISG has, but all parties agreed that for this group we needed a very open policy.
I should note that in the case of face-to-face meetings, ETSI will charge non-members a modest administration fee to cover costs, but this fee does not apply to meetings held via web conference. So for all practical purposes there will be no direct costs to non-members to participate in day-to-day work on standards in the ISG. Of course, if any groups want to be involved in the broader spectrum of ETSI activity, we encourage them to join ETSI.
Arle: What sort of support have you seen from the community for this initiative? Traditionally we have seen pretty limited participation in localization standards-setting activities and I have heard some concern about whether the ETSI ISG LIS will have enough support from the community since ETSI is a relative newcomer to this space.
Patrick: We've actually seen an exceptionally positive response from the localization community, both inside and outside of ETSI. We’ve had thirty-five organizations from all industry segments state their intention to participate, including some participants in the former LISA OSCAR Group. We are currently in the process of setting up specific bilateral agreements with ISO TC 37, W3C, and the Unicode Consortium for work in this ISG and have statements of intent to collaborate from GALA and TAUS. ETSI and OASIS already signed a cooperation agreement that could be extended to liaise the ETSI ISG LIS with XLIFF, for instance.
The thirty-five companies and organizations represent a broad and diverse base support, with some of the companies that have already been active in this area and others that are wanting to be active in this area. The expertise that will be available in the ISG is considerable. We would, of course, like to invite any other members from the former OSCAR group in LISA to participate in these efforts as well and we look forward to collaborating with other groups on areas of mutual interest. For those interested in seeing what organizations are involved, you can view the list at http://docbox.etsi.org/M2M/Open/Information/ISGLIS/ETSI-ISGLIS.pdf. [Note from Arle (05 May 2011): The document currently at this location replaces an earlier version that caused some confusion about the state of particular organizations, particularly ISO TC 37. Patrick has asked me to convey his apology for this confusion.]
It would be a pity if the localization community were to allow development of competing versions of the LISA standards based on disputes between various factions. It is in our common interest to put divisions aside and work together. Fragmentation can be avoided by collaboration and coordination and ETSI’s bilateral agreements with other groups will help support this collaboration.
Arle: What about other standards groups like OASIS? Will they be free to further develop LISA standards?
Patrick: Yes. Effectively, all other standard organisations are free to develop any standards, which is why the ETSI cooperation agreement portfolio is so important. We will take care of liaising from the beginning with all other parties (such as the European Commission and other standard organisations like ISO and OASIS) to avoid duplication of standards development efforts. Note, however, that ETSI Secretariat does not decide what work will happen in the ISG: this work is in the hand of former LISA members and other interested parties I already listed above. We would hope that various groups would be willing to work together to ensure that the work gets done where it makes the most sense, whether that be directly in OASIS, Unicode, ETSI, or elsewhere.
Furthermore, if the former LISA wishes to post the standards in an open repository, ETSI does not need to own that repository. We will only further develop specific LISA standards where the ISG agrees to do so. However, ETSI’s bilateral relationship with ISO is important for those LISA standards (TBX and SRX) that are in the ISO framework since they require an institutional successor to keep the public version in line with the ISO version.
Arle: If someone does wish to participate in the ISG, how do they go about doing so?
Patrick: They are welcome to contact me directly and we will add them to mailing for this group. You can reach me at [email protected].
Arle: Thank you for your time, Patrick.