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Monday, April 21, 2014

Industry Focus

The localization standards ecosystem

David Filip

Real working standards, open or not, must have been driven by a representative industry consensus. In fact, industry representativeness is one of the main competitive characteristics in standards bodies (consortia) in general and in the localization industry in particular.
Let us start with the assumption that openness of standards is an intrinsically positive property and that the localization industry would do well to keep its standards open rather than proprietary. In order to argue for open standards, however, we must first explain the conceptual difference between open standards and proprietary standards, and also between open standards and open source, which is quite an important distinction that is popularly confused.
As seen in Figure 1, closed source solutions can still be implementations of open standards. Interoperability is truly barred where a closed source solution is at the same time proprietary — fully ad hoc or based on a proprietary standard. The best case from the point of view of interoperability clearly is an open source implementation of open standards; perfect examples of this are International Components for Unicode (ICU) and Okapi framework. To make the whole difference entirely clear, we can say that the opposite of open in open source is closed, whereas the opposite of open in open standards is proprietary.
In order to explain the fine distinction between open and proprietary standards, two essential characteristics of open standards need to be explained: transparency and guaranteed royalty free use (Figure 2).
Although there unfortunately is no general consensus on which standards can be called open, all current accounts do agree that open standards must have been created via a transparent formal process. The requirement of formality for a standard’s transparency might not seem obvious; still, any process that needs to be publicly verified as transparent better be formal. We speak about transparency of the technical committee (TC) process. The process is usually codified on the consortium level, but various technical committees and types of standardization groups within a single consortium might meaningfully differ in their processes. . .

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Above excerpt taken from the April/May 2012 issue of MultiLingual published by MultiLingual Computing, Inc., 319 North First Avenue, Suite 2, Sandpoint, Idaho 83864-1495 USA, 208-263-8178, Fax: 208-263-6310. Subscribe

April/May, 2012