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Open Information Interchange Initiative FAQ

This page provides answers to the following frequently asked questions about the OII Standards and Specifications List:

  1. What is the OII initiative?
  2. What is the difference between a standard and a specification?
  3. Why are some commonly used data interchange formats only briefly mentioned?
  4. What determines which section a standard is listed under?
  5. Where can I find the standard called ....?
  6. Why are no ..... standards listed?
  7. Why do the names of some standards begin ISO while others being ISO/IEC?
  8. Why do ISO and ITU standards with the same title have different publication dates?
  9. Where can I get a copy of the standard?

What is the OII initiative?
A paper explaining the role of the OII initiative is provided at oii-info.html.

What is the difference between a standard and a specification?
A standard must be formally published by a recognised national or international standards body. Typically international standards are published by organisations such as the ISO, IEC, ITU, UN, CEN/CENELEC and ETSI. A specification is a set of formally specified rules that have been made publically available by either a single company (as a proprietary standard) or by an industrial consortium.

Why are some commonly used data interchange formats only briefly mentioned?
Proprietary specifications are only covered where widely used for information interchange andwhere details of the format are freely available to members of the public. Another criteria that is made is based on how often specifications change. If specifications change year-by-year without necessarily maintaining backward compatibility, as is the case with some proprietary specifications, they are not considered as suitable for Open Information Interchange.

What determines which section a standard is listed under?
We try to list standards in the section that they are most relevant to, and to reference these descriptions from other sections. If you feel we have made a mistake please feel free to send an E-mail to that effect toGerhard.Heine@lux.dg13.cec.be.

Where can I find the standard called ....?
Each entry is accompanied by a set of pointers to additonal sources of information. The Section Contents pointer will take you to an alphabetical list of all the entries in the current section. TheOII index entry will take you to an alpabetical listin of all the standards in the OII Standards and Specification List, which includes as many synonyms possible.

The Search Database entry in the list of help files provided at the start of each file (which can be reached via the OII Help entry) can be used to search for keywords. It should be noted, however, that this facility works across the whole ECHO network, not just the OII Standards and Specifications List.

Why are no ..... standards listed?
Probably because no one has yet made a case for why they should be considered as standards for Open Information Interchange. We very much welcome suggestions as to how the list could be extended to make it more useful to users. Please feel free to send suggestions by E-mail toGerhard.Heine@lux.dg13.cec.be or by post to the address shown provided when the OII Feedbackoption is selected.

Why do the names of some standards begin ISO while others being ISO/IEC?
ISO and IEC have set up a Joint Technical Committee (JTC1) to develop standards for the interconnection of computer systems. Standards developed under the aegis of this technical committee are clearly identified as such by having ISO/IEC in front of the standard number/date. Standards developed by ISO committees not under the aegis of JTC1 simply have ISO in front of their number/date.

Why do ISO and ITU standards with the same title have different publication dates?
Because the approval cycle for ISO and ITU standards differ it is possible for the same standard to have a different date when issued by the two standards authorities. This date will never be more than one year different and should not make it difficult to identify the relevant versions. (New versions of ISO standards are normally only created on a 5 year cycle.)

Where can I get a copy of the standard?
Where electronic copies of the standard can be obtained over the Internet we have tried to provide you with a hotspot you can click on to call up the relevant text. Where this is not possible we have tried to point you to electronic document catalogues and appropriate order forms. Where electronic access is not possible we have tried to provide a contact address, with telephone numbers where possible. If you are able to suggest a better way of legally obtaining a copy of a listed standard or specification we would very much like to hear from you. Appropriate addresses should be forwarded to the list maintenance team.



Section Contents
OII Home Page
OII Index
OII Help

This information set on OII standards is maintained by Martin Bryan of The SGML Centre and Man-Sze Li of IC Focus on behalf ofEuropean Commission DGXIII/E.

File last updated: January 1998

 

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