Introductionsby David Blackwood
Standards Reports Editor
Our Standards Reports Editor, David Blackwood, welcomes dialogue between this column and you, the readers. Please send your comments to <firstname.lastname@example.org>
First of all, many thanks to outgoing editor Nick Stoughton for all his contributions to this column over the years. We are sure to hear from Nick as the author of many more articles, though, as he continues in his role of USENIX Institutional Representative.
As this is my first column as Standards Reports ("snitch") Editor, please allow me to introduce myself. Although I am only a one-time contributor to this column, I have been active in standards for over ten years. I have been a member of the Canadian POSIX Working Group (equivalent to the US WG15 Technical Advisory Group, or TAG) since 1989 and chair of the group and head of the Canadian delegation to WG15 since 1995. Professionally, I have been an in-house systems integrator with the Government of Canada and have worked with UNIX systems since 1985. I am also a sometime convener of the Ottawa Carleton UNIX Users' Group.
This column welcomes dialog with you, the readers. Please send your comments to <email@example.com>. Your contributions to this column in the form of articles are both welcome and requested. You may note that my title is editor, not author. I will be relying on those who are participants in or observers of standards activities relevant to advanced-computing-systems users to help keep the rest of us informed of what is happening. Whether the concern is the various POSIX committees, ISO, ITU, or IETF, all contributions are welcome.
There are two major issues facing standards-development organizations today. The first issue is one of declining participation. Typically, standards are developed by groups of volunteers working on their own (or their employers') time and expense. As organizations focus more on their core business, participation in standards development often falls by the wayside. I believe this is very shortsighted and happens all too often. The second is one of funding. Standards-development organizations have for many years funded their operations through the sale of printed standards. Today many people insist that for standards to be truly open and widely implemented they must be freely available on the Net. Standards-development bodies therefore need to find alternate sources of revenue if they are to survive. Without standards-development bodies to guide the process and publish the results, and without volunteers to do the work, there will be no more standards. Some may argue that this would be no great loss, but you do not have to look very far to see the value of standards in daily life. Take our telephone and electrical systems, both prime examples of the kind of interoperability that standards can enable. If you have thoughts on how to address these or other issues, write to me.
In June 1999, Compaq Computer Corpora-tion announced that it was ceasing publication of the "Open Systems Standards Tracking Report." First published in 1989 by Digital Equipment Corporation as the POSIX Tracking Report, it was retitled in 1992 to reflect a change in focus. Its stated purpose was to "stimulate discussion, inform, educate, and raise the importance of standards-related issues." Its loss leaves a void I hope this column will be able to fill.
The IEEE Standards Association has recently approved two new Project Authorization Requests (PARs). The first is P1003.1s (C/PA) Standard for Information Technology Portable Operating System Interface (POSIX®) Part 1: System Application Program Interface (API) Amendment s: Synchronized Clock (C Language). The second is P1003.5h (C/PA) Standard for Information Technology Portable Operating System Interface (POSIX®) Ada Language Interfaces Part 1: Binding for System Application Program Interface (API) Amendment h: Synchronized Clock. It also approved a revision to P1003.1j (C/PA) Standard for Information Technology Portable Operating System Interface (POSIX®) Part 1: System Application Program Interface (API) Amendment j: Advanced Realtime Extensions (C Language).
At the same time it announced that 1003.1d (C/PA) Standard for Information Technology Portable Operating System Interface (POSIX®) Part 1: System Application Program Interface (API) Amendment d: Additional Realtime Extensions [C Language] had been approved.
Complete details of the status of all POSIX projects are at <http://www.pasc.org/standing/sd11.html>.
For this month, I will leave you with a set of bookmarks where you can learn more about the POSIX standards and the various participants and players in the process.
American National Standards Institute (ANSI) <http://www.ansi.org/>
British Standards Institution (BSI) <http://www.bsi.org.uk/>
Dansk Standard (DS) <http://www.ds.dk/>
Deutsches Institut für Normung (DIN) <http://www.din.de/>
Information Technology Standards Commission of Japan (ITSCJ) <http://www.itscj.ipsj.or.jp/eg/>
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE) <http://www.ieee.org/>
IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) <http://standards.ieee.org/sa/>
Portable Application Standards Committee (PASC) <http://www.pasc.org/>
International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) <http://www.iec.ch/>
International Organization for Standardiza-tion (ISO) <http://www.iso.ch/>
Joint Technical Committee 1 (JTC1) <http://www.jtc1.org/>
Sub-Committee 22 (SC22) <http://www.dkuug.dk/jtc1/sc22/>
Working Group 15 (WG15) <http://www.dkuug.dk/jtc1/sc22/wg15/>
Nederlands Normalisatie-institut (NEN) <http://www.nen.nl/>
The Open Group (TOG) <http://www.opengroup.org/>
The Austin Common Standards Revision Group <http://www.opengroup.org/austin/>
Standards Council of Canada (SCC) <http://www.scc.ca/>