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comp.lang.forth FAQ: ANS Forth (7 of 7)

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                 ANS Forth: The Standardisation Process

                    Peter J. Knaggs, 3 July 1999

  Please send omissions or corrections to Peter Knaggs <>.

Table of Contents:

   [1] What is the Current Status?
   [2] Are there any Web Site?
   [3] Are there any discussion groups?
   [4] Where can I purchase the standard?
   [5] What is being revised?
   [6] When does the TC meet?
   [7] How do I make a proposal?
   [8] Who is on the Technical Committee (TC)?
   [9] How can I join the TC?
  [10] What are Technical Groups?
  [11] What is the ANSI Process?
  [12] What is the ISO "Fast Track" Process?

  Search for [#] to get to section number '#' quickly.  Please note that
  each section is in "digest" form so cooperating NEWS/MAIL readers can
  step through them easily.


Subject: [1] What is the Current Status?

On the 25th September, 1998, the NCITS agreed to the J14 Technical
Committee's request for reactivation, thus changing the status of the
Technical Committee from Maintenance to Active.

The next meeting will be November 22-23 at the Hampton Inn in Seaside,
CA (see [6] for details). The TC will conduct most of its bussness on
the ansforth mail-list (see [3] for details).


Subject: [2] Are there any Web Site?

Greg Bailey of ATHENA Programming, Inc., keeps the ANS Forth Web Page at:


The NCITS (National Committee for Information Technology Standards)
keeps an official web site at:



Subject: [3] Are there any discussion groups?

General discussion and comment on the standard should be directed though
the usenet news group:


A separate mail list has been established for more formal announcements,
comments, and questions.  All mail sent to this mail list will be
distributed to all subscribers (including all members of the Technical
Committee) and archived for further reference.  Mail should be sent to:


Subscription and unsubscription request should be sent to:



Subject: [4] Where can I purchase the standard?

There are two different version of the standard:

ANS Forth - American National Standard Forth (document 
        "X3.215-1994, Programming Language Forth") can be purchased

                Global Engineering Documents, Inc.
                15 Inverness Way East
                Englewood, CO  80112-5704

                1-800-854-7179  (within USA)
                  303-792-2181  (outside USA)

        The final draft of the standard is available from the ANS Forth
        web page.

ISO Forth - The document "ISO/IEC 15145:1997 Information technology --
                Programming languages -- Forth" can be purchased from
                your local national standards organisation.


Subject: [5] What is being revised?

The Technical Committee voted to revise the ANS Forth standard with a
limited agenda:

        (a) Withdrawal of "obsolescent words"

        (b) Ratification of "clarifications"

        (c) Support for embedded and ROMable systems

        (d) Support for internationalisation and extended characters

        (e) Clarifications to the Standard, with the proviso that
            proposals will be considered under this item that clarify
            the language of the Standard to reflect the original intent
            of the TC, without making a substantive technical change. 

Note the (c) & (d) were requested by the ISO Fast Track process.  The
committee is not obligated to consider proposals falling outside this
agenda without first voting to extend it.  This requires a 2/3 vote of
the Committee.


Subject: [6] When does the TC meet?

While the committee is revising the standard, they plan to meet twice a

        June, coinciding with the Forth Institute's meeting.

        November, coinciding with the FORML meeting.

Members of the TC are required to attend one in every three meetings. The
meetings have been arranged such that attending one a year is sufficient
to retain membership of the Technical Committee.

The following meetings have been arranged:

        22-3 November '99
            Hampton Inn, Seaside, CA.
            To coincide with the Forth Modification Laboratory.
            Note that this is expected to be the final meeting.


Subject: [7] How do I make a proposal?

Anyone can make a proposal. The proposal should first be discussed on
the ANS Forth email list (See <a href="#3">[3]</a>) and attempt to gain
consensus on the ideas to the maximum extent possible.

After this a formal proposal must be drafted and submitted to
electronically by sending plain (7-bit ASCII) text or Word files to the
Chair at <>.  You may also submit a proposal via
mail by sending it to:

        J14 Technical Committee,
        c/o FORTH, Inc.,
        111 N. Sepulveda Blvd,
        Manhattan Beach,
        CA 90266, USA;

All proposals must conform to the following criteria:

a) Consists of specific wording changes or additions to the document,
   rather than statements of policy.

        Bad form:   Add DEFER and IS
        Good form:  Add the following to the {specified} wordset:
                    {specific definitions, edited so as to be readily
                    pasted into the document in the right place}

b) Include a rational for the change, including a citation of common
   practice in which the proposed technology has been proven.

c) Fit within an approved agenda item (see [5]), or must include a
   rationale why it should be considered; this must be sufficiently
   urgent that 2/3 of the membership will vote to add an agenda item for

We suggest proposals should provide information in the following

  Title         - One line summary of the proposal.
  Justification - Justification for consideration of the proposal.
  Problem       - Description of the problem the proposal is
                  attempting to resolve.
  Proposal      - The proposed alteration to the current working draft
                  of the standard. This should give the page and the
                  text you wish to delete and/or add.
  Typical Use   - Examples of how you envisage the proposed technology
                  being used.
  Remarks       - Additional comments, implementation comments,
                  side-effects, etc.
  Experience    - Examples of current practice, experiences with
                  the proposed alteration.
  Comments      - Comments of support from others.

The proposal must be submitted to the Chair with a message indicating
that it is a formal proposal for the consideration of the committee.

Upon receipt, the proposal will be examined by the committee chairs. If,
in their opinion, it meets the above criteria it will be assigned a
proposal number and circulated to the members of the committee for their
consideration. It is also posed on the ANS Forth web site (See [2]). If,
in the opinion of the chairs, the document does not meet the criteria
they will discuss possible changes with the author that will improve it
to the point where it can be accepted. Rejection by the chairs can be
appealed to the committee. The committee can overrule the chair's
decision by an 80% vote of those voting, provided the total vote
constitutes a quorum of the voting membership of the committee.

Further processing of the proposal will occur after receipt of a second
to the proposal from a member other than the proposal originator. The
second must be posted to the ANS Floor. After a period of time not less
than one week the chair may, at its discretion, declare that the proposal
had died for lack of a second and remove the proposal from active

After a proposal has been seconded the author may make further revisions
until the end of the comment period. Others wishing to have the proposal
modified should first discuss the proposed changes with the author and on
the ANS Forth maillist. If the author does not accept the changes and the
person offering the changes wishes to have the committee take formal
action on them, the changes should be submitted to the Chairs as a formal
amendment to the proposal. The chairs will publish notice of having
received the proposed amendments, they will be posted to the FTP site,
and there will be a period of one week during which any voting member of
the committee can offer a second to the proposed amendment. Upon receipt
of a second there will be a period of two weeks at the end of which the
amendment will be either accepted or rejected by a majority vote of those
voting on the amendment.


Subject: [8] Who is on the Technical Committee (TC)?

The current membership roster for the Technical Committee is maintained
by Greg Bailey (as Vice Chair) and is available at:


The list of TC Officers is available at the bottom of the J14 Current
work page at:



Subject: [9] How can I join the TC?

Anyone can join the Technical Committee.

While the committee is active (from now, until the committee finishes
its work and deactivates again) prospective members should attend at
least two out of three successive meetings.  A representative shall
attend the first of these meetings as an observer and reaffirm interest
in the work of the committee. Membership becomes effective with
attendance at one of the next two successive meetings and the payment
of a $300 administration fee.

Membership shall be terminated under the following conditions:

(1) Failure to pay any service fee within the specified period (normally
    an annual $300 administration fee);

(2) Failure to attend two out of three successive meetings, in which case
    the membership shall be terminated if the member fails to attend the
    next meeting;

(3) Failure to return 80% of the total letter ballots (non-accelerated)
    closing during the present calendar quarter, in which case the
    membership shall be terminated if the member fails to return at least
    80% of the total letter ballots (non-accelerated) closing during the
    subsequent quarter.

When the committee deactivates again (after it has completed its current
work) applications for membership should be sent to the Chair
<>. Membership becomes effective after the second
letter (eMail) ballot. Members will lose their membership by failure to
respond to three successive ballots, or failure to pay any service fee
within the specified period.


Subject: [10] What are Technical Groups?

The TC may convene Technical Groups (TG) to look into areas where there
is no consensus of "common practice" within the community. The Technical
Group is a sub-group of the TC given a specific mission, whose product is
a "Technical Report." A TR doesn't have the official standing of a
Standard, but can serve as a basis for implementations for some years
until the technology has matured sufficiently for a standard.


Subject: [11] What is the ANSI Process?

The ANSI process requires that four-years after the standard has been
approved the standard may be revised, reaffirmed, or withdrawn.

The Technical Committee receive a number of proposals to change the text
of the ANS Forth document, which they will vote on.  When the TC are
happy with the revised document it is published as a draft report for
public comment. The TC must then review the comments and either publish a
new draft or submit the draft for approval by the NCITS.  It can take a
year between the TC submitting a draft for approval and the standard
being published.


Subject: [12] What is the ISO "Fast Track" Process?

Once the ANSI standard has been published, it can be submitted to the ISO
for adoption as an international standard.  This circumvents the need for
a separate ISO Forth committee.

For ISO to adopt the ANS Forth standard requires a two-thirds majority of
ISO voting members.  All no votes are supported by technical comment.


Peter Knaggs <>

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