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ISO meeting in Montréal

Posted in Technology on 2007-08-07 16:58

Birks building, McGill university, Montréal

The second ISO meeting of 2007 was held over three days in Montréal, Canada, in conjunction with the Extreme Markup conference. This is a short personal report from the meeting. The meeting was held at McGill University, in the centre for religious studies, which (as you can see) has a rather unusual building.

Note: Now updated to cover day 3 as well, but still no links to the documents from the meeting, since they are not posted yet. If they get posted soon I'll add the links.


The first part of the first day was spent on CTM, and a number of small issues were ironed out. The syntax itself changed very little, and it now seems like CTM actually has stabilized. The main changes were:

Although quite a bit of work on the specification remains it's beginning to seem like the language itself is quite stable, and as though the only things that remain is minor tweaking.


The second half of day 1 was spent on the new proposal for GTM level 1. We walked through the original presentation and gathered lots of feedback. The basic message was that the overall approach was good, but a number of aspects of the notation were tweaked, and many suggestions were made for new features. The editors will need to do some serious thinking to come up with the next version, but that's good.

After the review of the level 1 proposal professor Lee took out his first level 0 proposal (from December 2006; it does not appear to have been published) and showed that it was in fact very similar to the level 1 proposal. It was agreed that professor Lee would update his proposal, and prepare a similar presentation of it.

So far it looks like GTM is progressing at record speed, which is quite encouraging. Quite a bit of work remains, but it seems like the initial hurdles have been cleared.

Dublin Core in Topic Maps

The meeting

The strawman proposal was discussed, and the basic mapping was not changed substantially, but a number of new issues were brought up, and it's clear that it needs to be extended quite a bit. The general messiness of the Dublin Core specs made the discussion a bit confused, but a good bit of progress was made, and there is every reason to think that the next draft will be quite close to the real thing.

The discussion of dc:language brought up the issue of what to do about the old OASIS PSI sets for languages and countries. There was a general feeling that ISO should take this over and produce a TR containing the general principles for the PSI sets, and then a web site that actually hosts them where they are updated regularly. However, no decision was made on when this work would be started.

RDF-TM mapping

Steve Pepper proposed that this work be moved from the W3C to ISO, since this makes it much easier for the community to work on it. His suggestion was to submit a modified version of the last W3C draft as part of a new work item proposal by the Kyoto meeting in December. There was some resistance to taking on more work, but also a general feeling that this was in some way necessary. So it looks like ISO is going to pick up this work and complete it.

ISO 13250-1

This is a part of the basic Topic Maps standard that has been planned for ages, but on which no work has been done until recently, mainly because the committee was waiting for the pieces to fall into place. The purpose of this part of the standard is to serve as an introduction that explains how everything hangs together. The editors had published a draft which was discussed at the meeting, and which will be updated and improved.

For people who want to participate in the ISO standards work (without necessarily going to meetings) this is the perfect document to start with. Read it, and if it doesn't explain what you want it to explain, or if it isn't clear enough for you to understand what it says, please say so! The audience for this document is people who are not on the committee, so the committee really needs outside reviewers of this document.

TMDM-TMRM mapping

I produced one version of this in early July, which Robert Barta then incorporated in the newest version of the TMRM. However, his version is quite different from mine, so I wanted to use the meeting to discuss the differences and get feedback from the committee.

However, it turned out that the committee was on a completely different page, and wanted more background on what Robert and I were doing, and why. So this part of the meeting was spent more on discussing the why than on the how, and quite a bit of useful feedback was given on this.


The third day was largely devoted to TMCL, and we spent most of it going through how TMCL uses CTM, and how TMCL represents the constraints. The constraints are represented as topics, associations, and so on, but there are some choices that can be made about how this is done. Overall, it was a very good session, and there's a general feeling that the next TMCL draft is going to be quite close to the real thing.

TMDM corrigendum

A couple of minor bugs in the TMDM have been discovered, and so it has been agreed that ISO will put out what's called a "Technical Corrigendum", which is basically an errata document. This will also go online, and there will be a new draft online with the corrections in.

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