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Development of ISO 15924

All standards have histories.

In the late 1980s a proposal from DIN for a script-code standard was discussed in ISO TC37. Due to the usual lack of time and resources it was not pursued more actively, though TC37 maintained a recognition of the need for a script code, but still no one came up with the idea of devising script code on the basis of any existing standard, such as the language code standard. Michael Everson drafted a proposal for a script code in about 1994, and the TC37 Advisory Committee approved the idea of having a new work item on a script code. Unfortunately, for a number of reasons discussion was deferred in TC37 until late 1996, and even then, TC37 New Work Item ballot was started only late in 1997.

For whatever reason, communication between TC37 and the editor of the script code proposal was not very effective, and so he offered the Working Draft of the standard (1997-05-06) to ISO TC46/SC2 (Transliteration and transcription). That committee promptly processed a NWI ballot and by October 1997 ISO Central Secretariat had registered the project for development in TC46/SC2. Strangely, TC37/SC2 continued to process its NWI ballot and a brief struggle ensued over who should “own” the standard.

A discussion list iso15924 @ dkuug.dk was created and its first message went out on 1997-12-20. The standard was developed bilingually in English and French, both in the text of the document and in discussion on the e-mail list. Two more Working Drafts were published on 1998-05-26 and 1998-05-30, and the Committee Draft dated 1998-07-09 went out for ballot and was approved by 1999-01-11. The Disposition of Comments on the ballot for the CD was prepared on 1999-06-16, and the first draft of the DIS was available in 2000-03-10. The final DIS went out for ballot on 2000-05-18. The Disposition of Comments on the DIS was made available 2001-10-02, as was the first draft of the FDIS.

About this time ISO TC46 was restructuring, getting a new secretariat, and so on – making for a somewhat chaotic situation. ISO TC46/SC2 was disbanded and became ISO TC46/WG3, with the same portfolio. Discussion with ISO Central Secretariat indicated that the Maintenance Agency approved in the DIS ought to be a Registration Authority instead, and on accepting that advice some renegotiation had to go on as to who the Registration Authority should be. The offer of the Unicode Consortium to act as Registration Authority was accepted, as was their decision to appoint Michael Everson of Evertype as Registrar.

The FDIS went out on 2003-10-17, was approved on 2003-12-17, and published on 2004-02-04. The ISO 15924 website was launched on 2004-05-01.


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