Re: Internet, HTML, Java & Unicode

From: Rick McGowan (
Date: Thu May 09 1996 - 18:27:50 EDT

On the Unicode list, Glen Perkins said sometime earlier today...

> I can't help but think that the "marketing" of unicode would benefit
> greatly by having some "unicode support toolkits" for all major platforms
> placed in the public domain and accompanied by some good "how to implement
> unicode" books with that code on CD-ROMs in the back of the book.

> Imagine if the unicode consortium could create (or see to the creation of)
> "unicode kits" for most major platforms, including the fonts, and put them
> up on various servers for downloading and also make them available on cheap
> CD-ROMs.

These are interesting ideas and they've been brought up before. There are two
fundamental problems to consider:

(1) No company who's doing a Unicode implementation "for real" wants to give
it all away for free because it typically entails a lot of engineering effort;
and they're unlikely to dilute their own efforts by helping other people very
much with a "communal" implementation.

(2) The consortium itself is run entirely by volunteer effort utilizing a
small budget provided by the generosity of a few companies.

The second problem is a rather significant one in this case. It is quite easy
to say that the consortium should do X and Y. Only your volunteer effort,
added to the efforts of the small number of other volunteers will ever make
anything like this happen.

The best way to assure that the consortium does good things is to become a
corporate member and then volunteer enough staff efforts to make things

Further down, Glen P. says...

> The idea would be to have some standard bundle of system APIs and fonts
> that application developers could rely on, making unicode support much
> easier and less intimidating to add to their products. ...

"APIs" are by their nature platform dependent, while the UTC is platform
independent. The consortium has many company members with many platforms and
conflicting agendas in the commercial sphere. We therefore stay entirely away
from those issues and concentrate on the standard itself. The UTC has never
been comfortable as a group with working on APIs; their expertise is
concentrated in other areas. (Also see problem 1 above.)

> The unicode consortium could even certify a certain level of unicode support
> with a formal seal of approval and open the implementation of these kits to
> anybody who wants to play, as Sun does with Java implementors

This is an idea that has been brought up. Objections are that certification
is expensive and complex to initiate, implement, maintain, and insure against
lawsuits. No member has been willing to put in the engineering or monetary
support to do this; and again, the UTC's expertise is concentrated in other

        Rick McGowan
        (Technical Director, Unicode Inc.)

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