A Standards Primer
Photo by Dauvit Alexander
I have recently had several long discussions about the motivations and machinations that surround the development of technology interoperability standards. Over the past few years, I've also captured a lot of ideas and experience on the blog. I pulled it all together into one place in the following paper, "Understanding Technology Standardization Efforts" (PDF 86.2K).
For the record, I was a long term participant in the POSIX and UNIX standardization efforts. I was a working group participant, balloted many pieces of the standards and their amendments, and participated in the management of the standards effort at the IEEE as both an inaugural member of the Project Management Committee and a voting member of the Sponsor Executive Committee. I was an international participant at ISO, as document editor, and participated on behalf of three different national body delegations (Canada, U.S., UK) over a number of years. I began my participation in 1989 as a customer (working for EDS with GM and the U.S. government as their primary POSIX-interested customers), but quickly ended up as a vendor, working for MKS developing a conforming POSIX.2 implementation that formed the basis of implementations from IBM, DEC, HP, UNISYS and Sun. In 1995, I put my money where my mouth was on the importance of applications portability, standards and the coming juggernaut of NT and co-founded Softway Systems, implementing the POSIX and UNIX standards on NT to enable UNIX applications to be directly migrated to the platform. A large amount of free and open source software was incorporated into the product. Softway Systems was acquired by Microsoft in 1999, and I worked there for five years. Over the years I've been in regular contact with people standardizing C#/CLI, the Linux Standards Base, and ODF.
Several friends and colleagues from the standards world have reviewed the paper and provided excellent comments. The paper is much better for it. All mistakes obviously remain my own.