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The OpenChain Project in 2H 2020

By 2020-07-08November 12th, 2020Featured

The OpenChain Project had an exceptionally busy first half of 2020. From conformance to membership announcements, from reference material releases to taking the final steps in our ISO submission, the project and its community has pushed forward the state of the art in compliance.

You Can Expect Big News in Q3

First, a recap. OpenChain 2.0 is our current industry standard. It was reformatted for ISO submission in Q1 via something called the ISO/IEC JTC1 PAS transposition process. This reformatted but functionally identical document was termed OpenChain 2.1 and constituted our ISO/IEC JTC1 PAS submission in Q2. The goal is simple: our mature de facto industry standard (OpenChain 2.0) is going through a process to become a formal International Standard. There are two positive implications:

  1. Everyone conformant with OpenChain 2.0 will also be conformant to the International Standard and;
  2. People new to our field can easily engage and adopt our standard.

Our ISO/IEC JTC1 PAS submission (DIS 5230) will complete its voting period on the 22nd of September. Unless there is a request for a further FDIS ballot, our International Standard will be published within six weeks or less. In other words, OpenChain will have completed its transition from de facto industry standard into a formal international standard, expanding our audience of immediate interest from hundreds to thousands of companies. We will be the first formal standard from The Linux Foundation in 14 years (the last was Linux Standard Base / ISO/IEC 23360) and we are the first project to collaborate with Joint Development Foundation on transitioning a de facto standard from our field into an International Standard via the ISO/IEC JTC1 PAS transposition process.

A lot of our time and energy from now until then will be about putting everything in place to welcome new companies and new collaborators to our project. We want to ensure that people from sales, procurement and other areas impacted by the inclusion of ISO standards can quickly get up to speed. Our goal is to facilitate smooth adoption and to ensure everyone gets the benefit of great open source compliance programs.

The Outcome Will Be:

  • An International Standard
  • Improvements in our current reference material
  • New reference material for sales/procurement/etc

Expectation 1

You can expect to always be able to access our International Standard on the OpenChain website. The OpenChain Specification 2.1 that will be hosted on our website will be “technically aligned” with the published ISO standard = they are the same. This is very similar to how the standard for Office Open XML File Formats is addressed with free access via ECMA-376 and formal ISO publication (gated access) via ISO/IEC 29500.

Expectation 2

You can expect to always be able to self-certify to the OpenChain Specification 2.1 on the OpenChain website, along with all previous and future versions of our standard. By the same measure, you can always discover and collaborate with our official partners for legal support, services support and even full third-party certification precisely as before.

Expectation 3

You can expect all future work on the OpenChain ISO standard to remain right here, running under the same processes, our well-established and refined method of ensuring we have a concise, useful and pragmatic solution to the question of open source compliance.

Expectation 4

And you can expect stability. Our forthcoming ISO standard is the end result of years of contributions from hundreds of people. It has seen four iterations after originally going to market in October 2016 (OpenChain 1.0, 1.1, 1.2 and finally 2.0). Each iteration refined our work based on practical feedback from real world deployment. OpenChain 2.0 has been out since April 2019. It is rock solid, it is seeing adoption across every major geography and market. The status of OpenChain 2.0 and the functionally identical ISO formatted OpenChain 2.1 (DIS 5230) is simple: this International Standard, when it completes the ballot process, will be in market for many, many years to come. Adoption of OpenChain 2.0 and our forthcoming ISO standard is the adoption of a consistent standard that can be deployed with confidence in any supply chain.

And Of Course…

This does not mean we will put away our editing gloves. We want to capture experience and feedback from today and into the foreseeable future. As of last month we began bi-weekly calls to provide this forum. Oversimplifying things a little, we want to make sure that every viable idea and suggestion is captured and recorded on our GitHub for the Specification.

Get this guide and many more documents in the OpenChain Reference Library:

This will allow us to draft future generations of the standard at an appropriate pace while also addressing and resolving many items via reference material. As always, the process will be clearly defined and clearly monitored, thanks in no small part to the exceptional work of Mark Gisi as the chair of the OpenChain Specification Work Team. Thanks Mark!

What else in 2H 2020? Conformance announcements. Membership announcements. Partner announcements. The usual. Each reflecting a new milestone in our continued progress. Most importantly our work teams, whether global and addressing spaces like automotive and reference tooling, or local and addressing geographies like China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, India, Germany and (as of July) the UK, will remain the heart of everything we do. OpenChain is created by and run by user organizations to solve challenges for user organizations. This laser focus is at the heart of our success and it will remain so in the future.

On a final note, the OpenChain Project expects to be operating virtually until 2021. Our individual work groups in various geographies may hold physical meetings based on their discretion, but for the project as a whole our emphasis will be on ensuring our online communication and sharing is effective and consistent. We already put everything in place (bi-weekly webinars, bi-weekly space for spec discussions, our pre-existing mailing lists, free access to Zoom + UberConference), and we will continue to execute against this plan.


Shane Coughlan
General Manager, OpenChain
p: +81 (0) 80 4035 8083                

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