Support for Fortran Standards Development

Report to Fortran SG AGM 29th September 2011

BCS has supported the UK contribution to the development of international Fortran standards since 2003. Details of the arrangement are shown in The roles played by UK individual members in the ISO and US Fortran committees (WG5 and J3 respectively) are unchanged from last year and are not repeated here. In addition to attending international meetings, much development is of course undertaken by email.

Activity 2010-2011
The latest revision of the full language standard, informally known as Fortran 2008, was published as ISO/IEC 1539-1:2010 in October 2010.

It being too early to consider a further revision, the 2011 ISO Fortran meeting concentrated on various ancillary standards projects:

  • to develop the technical report on Further Interoperability of Fortran with C
  • to prepare the specification for a technical report on Further Coarray Features
  • to develop the draft Fortran annex for TR 24772 (Guidance to Avoiding Vulnerabilities in Programming Languages through Language Selection and Use)
  • to consider whether Fortran should have a maths functions module, analogous to those for C and C++
  • to consider under what circumstances part 2 of the Fortran standard (Varying Length Strings) could be withdrawn

UK members have played a major role in developing the Interoperability TR. This was considerably revised both at the meeting and by subsequent email discussion and was submitted for SC22 ballot in July. It was approved by 13 votes to one along with some nine pages of technical and editorial comments. It is expected to be published during 2012.

The proposed report on Further Coarray Features was the most controversial item discussed at the meeting. Should it be essentially the material which had been excised, as a compromise, from the full language proposals in 2008 which had in turn been based on requirements specified three years earlier or should there be a call for user requirements to make use of more recent experience of coarray usage? The latter course was agreed. It was also agreed that there should be a clear definition of the aims and objectives of the project before starting work on the content.

On the Language Vulnerability issue, there was no great enthusiasm for producing a Fortran annex to the report, but it was thought that it could be a Good Thing politically. An early draft exists and it is intended to complete a revision by July 2012.

Given the wealth of high quality mathematical software readily available to Fortran users, it was decided not to proceed with a standard maths functions module.

Most, but not all, of the functionality of part 2 of the Fortran standard is now available in the main language. As a first step for possible withdrawal of part 2 it was decided to make publicly available a modern version of the ISO_VARYING_STRING module.

The meeting was held in Garching, near Munich on 27 June to 1 July, 2011 with 17 participants from six countries. There were four delegates from the UK, of whom BCS fully supported one financially and partially supported two others. All Fortran development papers are open to all who are interested worldwide; minutes of the most recent WG5 meeting are in N1860. WG5 documents are available via its website J3 papers are obtainable from

The Group is extremely grateful for the continuing support of BCS.

David Muxworthy
BSI Fortran Convenor
26th September 2011

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