There are four Programmes of Work of TC31:
- First Programme of Work (1987-1991)
- Second Programme of Work (1992-1996)
- Third Programme of Work (1997-2000)
- Fourth Programme of Work (2001-2010)
As in ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 23, TC31 undertakes a project when a number of Companies (National Bodies in JTC1) are willing and able to submit the necessary technical information needed for the development of a standard. These projects, which are basically application-driven, aim at offering to users the ODCs which fit best their needs. Obviously technology advances, for instance the availability of lasers with shorter wavelengths, also play a role in the decision to start a new project.
Ecma Standards for ODCs offer to the Information Technology community clear and explicit descriptions of the different media at the time of their availability on the market. The timely publication of these Ecma Standards is of primary interest to users. It cannot be the role of a standardization organization, whether Ecma or ISO, to make a selection amongst the proposed designs and thus preempt a decision which must be taken by the open market.
Another aspect to be noted, is that of the so-called backward compatibility. In general, this means that when an ODC of higher capacity is offered the corresponding new drive should be able to read ODCs of the previous generation. It must be understood that this is exclusively a drive and not an ODC problem. Indeed, the ability to read older ODCs is a technical-commercial decision to be taken by each manufacturer according to his analysis of the market. It is, so to say “always possible” to design a drive which can read – or even write on – previously used ODCs. This will depend on two factors a) will such a drive be needed, and b) can it be produced at a reasonable price.
From the above, it can be gathered that TC31 is operating in a controlled and systematic manner. The number of Ecma Standards and their adoption by ISO/IEC as International Standards reflect the considerable activity of the industry and the numerous but different needs of the users.