The Unicode Consortium:
Why your company should join
As you know, the Unicode
Standard is the single, universal character standard for all
text. It has widespread implementation and usage, and is the
foundation of modern computer architectures and the character
infrastructure of the Internet and the World Wide Web. Maintained and updated by
Consortium, the Unicode Standard is the core technology that
enables your entry into technical, international, and world
growth markets, while maintaining a secure software environment.
Because Unicode is such fundamental technology, your business
is very dependent on the stability and future extensions of the
standard, even though it may not be apparent to you.
Joining the Unicode Consortium is important to your business for
many reasons, including to:
- protect your investment in software development
- advance the standard to meet your requirements
- power modern global applications
- demonstrate industry leadership
The work of the Unicode Consortium, a non-profit, 501(c)(3) charitable organization, is ongoing. Substantial work
remains to extend the structure for a more global internet,
cultural adaptations, and applications interoperability, such as
for mobile computing. Maintaining the stability
of the Unicode Standard and associated standards also is paramount: backward compatibility
of current implementations must be maintained, requiring the
attention and efforts of the membership. To carry on its work, the
Consortium relies on continued support by its membership.
The Unicode Consortium has a broad
membership from different countries, with a mix of vendors,
governments, and other organizations. Your company can gain
important benefits by participating in the Unicode Consortium,
including: ensuring stability and security of the standard, having
advance knowledge of leading edge technologies, securing an
industry leadership image, directing the course of the standard,
and keeping abreast of other members. Membership provides
opportunities for leadership in your user community and with your
key partners. It improves your ability to plan product strategy
and stay competitive. The total cost of membership to an
organization is a modest investment compared to the resulting
Protect your investment
The Unicode Standard must incorporate new characters, update
character properties and algorithms, and still maintain the
stability of the standard to meet the needs of its users. In this
way, the Unicode Standard will continue to serve as information
technology’s single universal character set.
A strong consortium is required to maintain the stability of
the standard in view of the pressure to change character
properties or deprecate specific characters. Such requests must
be carefully assessed to determine whether they are improvements
and whether they cause problems for your existing
implementations, for the long-term viability of your data and your customers' data, and for
the long-term maintenance of production application environments.
The way to protect your investment in the Unicode Standard and
Unicode locale data is to actively work to promote their stability.
Participation as a Unicode member also allows for a coherent and unified approach to other organizations, providing additional
weight when dealing with issues that are crucial to the members, such as the of stability of language or country codes that are
core to the identification of locales in your software, or the stability of other fundamental standards.
Advance the standard to meet your requirements
Through your votes, your proposals and your participation in the Unicode
Technical Committee, you can influence the standard to meet your requirements, as well as the requirements of your user
community, your industry, and your key partners.
There are continual requirements for new characters and mechanisms, especially in the large and growing Asian markets.
Mobile computing, particularly in Japan, is driving the use of many new symbols. Unicode and related standards must evolve to meet these needs to
avoid the emergence of incompatible standards that would necessitate expensive and time-consuming re-architecture of your software products. When the Chinese government created the
encoding standard GB 18030 and legislated that new products support it, members of the Unicode Consortium validated the mappings to Unicode, and worked
to ensure interoperability, allowing businesses to avoid re-architecting their applications to support multiple simultaneous character sets.
Interoperability is key to success in most businesses today, especially in dealing with heterogeneous systems. Adding new
Unicode properties and other specifications reduces customer
complaints caused by inconsistent behavior in your products.
Enhancing the character repertoire of Unicode expands market
reach and productivity without making existing software obsolete.
These policies extend the lifetime and the revenue-earning
capabilities of Unicode-based software applications. Governments
continue to define and refine character repertoires as well, which
can also require additions to the standard. For example, the
creation of the new European currency, the euro, required the
addition of its symbol to Unicode; other currency symbols have
also been added recently.
Power modern global applications
Employing Unicode in software projects yields improvements in
productivity, simplified project designs, ease of integration and
other advantages that result in successful, portable, profitable
If global reach is important to your business, membership in
the Unicode Consortium can give you access to important advance
technological information and experts from around the world.
Consortium members have early access to draft proposals and
information shared between the Unicode Consortium and other
organizations, including standards bodies, which assist in
advancing computing technologies. Member companies therefore
benefit from an early opportunity to plan product strategies. In
this way you can anticipate key trends and provide timely support
to your users and partners as the industry evolves.
The Unicode Consortium
provides the industry-friendly interface to the world
of internationalization standards. Through its alignment with ISO/IEC
10646 and the collation
standard ISO/IEC 14651, the Unicode Standard is effectively endorsed by governments
around the world. Close cooperation and formal liaison
ISO committees ensures that additions to these standards
remain synchronized in character repertoire, encoding,
and default ordering. The
maintenance of synchrony in repertoire between these standards
helps ensure that government procurement requirements do not
present an obstacle to sales. The Consortium also encourages
member companies to participate in national standards bodies, such
as INCITS/L2 for U.S. companies. (See also: Economic
benefits of standardization - Summary of results.)
The ongoing activities of the Consortium adapt the Unicode
Standard to a widening variety of applications and new
technologies such as Web Services. The Unicode Consortium works
closely with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C); for example, the
two organizations maintain a joint technical report that describes
best practices for using the Unicode Standard in the context of
markup languages, such as XML. The Unicode Consortium also works
with the IETF to ensure that that important IETF specifications
meet internationalization requirements, such as those for
international domain names, languages, and charsets.
Through membership in the Consortium, your company can also tap
into the pool of experts that work on important writing systems;
for example, the Ideographic Rapporteur Group with delegates from
the countries that use Chinese, Japanese, and Korean characters.
The Unicode Standard is intimately connected with software
internationalization and globalization, with member companies
being considered experts. Membership in the Unicode Consortium
makes a strong statement to your customers that your products and
business will be able to accommodate their requirements when they
are ready to expand globally.
Consortium members contribute to the development of a leading
technology standard, and thus are well-positioned to provide
education and realistic visions of industry trends to help their
user communities and key partners prepare strategies to be more
competitive. This effective leadership can increase your customer
loyalty and business opportunities.
The Consortium leads the ongoing incorporation of minority
language scripts into the Unicode Standard. This work preserves
world culture and creates new opportunities to extend the reach of
existing applications. It also allows members to demonstrate their
commitment to serve the communities in which they do business, and
to be publicly associated with the preservation of cultural
The Unicode Standard depends on active participation from
individuals employed by its member organizations. Many
participants are experts in internationalization, character
encodings, linguistics, typography or other fields related to text
processing or rendering. Active participation in the development
of the Unicode Standard helps your employees improve their
technology and leadership skills. In addition to networking with
other experts in the field, your employees further their knowledge
of consensus building, negotiation, principles of robust software
specification, and design. They find innovative solutions to
complex technical problems, fostering creative problem-solving
Many may think that Unicode is complete, and with over
characters, the Unicode Standard does include the vast majority of
characters in use around the world.
However, Unicode is far more than just characters.
Without the properties, algorithms, and other specifications in
the Unicode Standard and associated standards, there would be no
interoperability between different implementations. Ongoing
enhancements to the Unicode Standard character properties,
the Unicode locales project, and
other specifications further improve text processing and
rendering, and provide
solutions to practical problems encountered by members.
publishes the standards, algorithms, and data necessary for
advanced software applications in the broader field of Unicode and
software globalization, such as Unicode in regular expressions.
These features must be maintained and updated to meet the needs of
members, while always ensuring the requisite stability for current
implementations. The UnicodeConsortium also plays a vital part in ensuring that other important standards meet the requirements of its members.
The Unicode Consortium seeks and welcomes new members to join in these important activities.