Bits from the DPL (Debian and OASIS)

Posted by dave on May 4, 2004 7:38 AM EDT
Mailing list; By Martin Michlmayr
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The following posting has been contributed by Mark Johnson, Debian's representative at OASIS, the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards.

The following posting has been contributed by Mark Johnson, Debian's
representative at OASIS, the Organization for the Advancement of
Structured Information Standards.

Debian's Activity at OASIS =

This document highlights the Debian project's involvement with OASIS over the last year.


OASIS (the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards) [1] is a not-for-profit, global consortium that drives the development and convergence of XML-based e-business and related standards. OASIS standards of particular interest to Debian include DocBook [2], the SGML catalog standard [3] (aka TR9401:1997), and the XML Catalog specification [4].

Debian has been an OASIS member organization for almost two years, with limited, but active representation by a few Debian developers.

The Importance of the Debian OASIS Membership =

The OASIS membership is important for a number of reasons. Debian is currently the only non-commercial GNU/Linux distribution with representation at OASIS, thereby bringing a unique perspective to OASIS. Furthermore, Debian is the only 'free' software organization with any representation at this standards organization, and hence provides the only 'free' software voice at OASIS.

Of more immediate importance, though, are the direct benefits that Debian derives from its OASIS membership. Debian is very much a standards-oriented organization, so having direct input into the development standards with which Debian will have to comply can have a significant impact on the standards implementation process.

Through our membership we have direct influence into the process of standards development. This benefit has proved particularly beneficial in the development of the XML Catalogs specification. During a key period of work on this specification, two of the seven committee members were from the Debian project. As a result, the final specification will be more easily implementable on Debian than it otherwise might've been.

Similarly, representation on the DocBook Technical Committee has also proved beneficial to Debian. For example, DocBook TC member Mark Johnson played a key role in adding a new element to DocBook. Although these direct contributions may not seem significantly substantial, of equal importance is the role that Debian members play in shaping a standard, sometimes taking a strong position against a standing proposal. Our membership truly makes a difference that mutually benefits both Debian and OASIS.

In summary, through membership on key OASIS committees, Debian is in a position to monitor and help steer the standards process. Due to our contribution, the quality of the standards that emerge are higher and the results are more implementable. As a result, we are able to implement the standards more quickly, improving the quality of Debian itself.

Debian Involvement in OASIS Activities =

Debian and the XML Catalogs Specification -----------------------------------------

After joining the OASIS Entity Resolution Technical Committee (TC) Debian developers Ardo van Rangelrooij and Mark Johnson made significant contributions to the XML Catalogs specification in the first half of 2003. This specification is of fundamental importance for locating XML resources in the filesystem, such as is required to validate XML documents.

In addition to contributing directly to the content of the specification, work is also underway in constructing supporting materials for the specification, some of which will contain the Debian XML Catalogs system as a sample implementation of the specification.

After this period of elevated activity, Ardo van Rangelrooij changed his committee status to that of Observer, in order to devote his energies to other projects.

Another Debiag developer, Adam Di Carlo, recently joined the Entity Resolution TC, and will soon have voting privileges on the committee.

Debian and the DocBook Technical Committee ------------------------------------------

Mark Johnson has been an active member of the DocBook TC since mid 2002, and is engaged in the further development of the DocBook family of schema. His membership provides Debian with a means of direct involvement in the development of DocBook, which has now become the de facto standard for open source documentation. Adam Di Carlo recently joined the DocBook TC, where his efforts will nicely complement his work at the DocBook Open Repository [5].

An Open Invitation to Debian Developers =

It is important that all Debian developers understand that they are welcome to join _any_ OASIS Technical Committee in which they are interested and are encouraged to do so.

We could make better use of our membership by being more involved in other committees which may have an impact on Debian in the future. For instance, the PKI technical committee is trying to work out standards for a common and secure PKI infrastructure. There are many other technical committees which are infrastructural: XDI Technical Committee, eXtensible Access Control Markup Language TC, Directory Services Markup Language TC, etc., etc. Our membership in OASIS gives Debian developers access to these groups, access which can be exploited to to increase the chance of the standard being a success, to raise the profile of Debian developers, and to improve Debian itself. We believe this capability is being under-utilized.

For information on how to join an OASIS Technical Committee, contact Mark Johnson .

OASIS-related Mailing List =

A new mailing list has been created on Alioth [6] for the purpose of forwarding all OASIS messages received by Mark Johnson, the official Debian delegate to OASIS. Interested developers can subscribe to the list to keep informed about OASIS activity. The list can also serve as a forum for discussing Debian/OASIS related issues.


[1] [2] [3] [4] talogs-1.0_2e.html [5] [6]

--=20 Martin Michlmayr []

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