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TorgoX (1933)

TorgoX
  sburkeNO@SPAMcpan.org
http://search.cpan.org/~sburke/

"Il est beau comme la retractilité des serres des oiseaux rapaces [...] et surtout, comme la rencontre fortuite sur une table de dissection d'une machine à coudre et d'un parapluie !" -- Lautréamont

Journal of TorgoX (1933)

Tuesday April 06, 2004
12:29 AM

Unicode

[ #18214 ]
Dear Log,

«In sum, I'm convinced that the Unicode designers blew it, way back when, by insisting on maximizing generative typography except when muscled by an economically important country.

Either of the two extremes would probably have converged on an overall solution more quickly. But it's far too late to change now.»

--"Convenience for the wealthy, virtue for the poor"

«The problem with Unicode's puristic approach [ahem, partially puristic approach] is that it was ahead of the technology. The technology to do things like spontaneously ligate f i on display is quite new; if you wanted to see a ligature even five years ago, you had no choice but to use a separate codepoint. And even now that operating systems have started getting smarter about combining codepoints together, the results look less than satisfactory.»

--"Gaps in the System"

...and so on, with further discussion of how support for composed characters is still flakey after all these years. The Unicode Consortium people seem to have assumed that if they merely specify semantics, little gnomes will magically implement it, and implement it well.

But, for me at least, a big lesson of 1990s open source is: if you want it done right, you have to be ready to do all the work yourself. You may not have to actually do it, but you at least have to be prepared to do so. "Doing all the work" in this case would have meant publishing free fonts and DLLs and the like, and providing Mozilla very early on with the patches to render all these combined characters and context-sensitive characters and whatnot. But ya know, 20/20 hindsight, etc etc.

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  • Well, what's the alternative to Unicode? I seem to recall reading that there was a better system out there that "lost the battle", so to speak.
    • There's no alternative.
      • > There's no alternative.

        Agreed. For all its flaws, Unicode is unicode.

        The part that always bothers me most about detractors of Unicode is that they argue along the lines of:

        MY particular area of text processing doesn't work right. (= as they would expect it to)

        ERGO the whole Unicode is wrong.

        Quite often people also blame Unicode for things that should be done by Somebody Else (like operating system vendors, GUI designers, font designers, or sometimes, AI researchers...)