Re: Unicode plain text

From: Edward Cherlin (
Date: Sun May 25 1997 - 02:45:58 EDT

Timothy Partridge <> wrote:

>We seem to have two different requirements for plain text here.
>Now my assumption was that we would mostly want to use one type, whereas
>there seems to be a strong demand for another. At the risk of teaching
>you all to suck eggs I will contrast and compare them at some length.
>I hope you will find a useful point or two.

This is exactly what I was trying to get at in earlier messages. I would
say that there are other requirements in other cases, and it would be worth
our while to make a stab at enumerating them so we have some idea of what
we are talking about.

Here are some of the common uses of "plain text", each having a different
purpose and different constraints:

Printer command files--ASCII, PostScript
Source code--programming, SGML, HTML, TeX
Encoded binaries--UUencode, UTF-7
Transfer formats--RTF, APL Workspace Interchange
Application file formats

Constraints on line length vary widely. I have seen database files with
lines of nearly 1000 characters, and of course there is the theorem that
any computable function can be expressed in one line of APL. :-)

Other constraints will also vary widely. We must allow for this variation,
and only specify what we have to.

>First the type I had assumed as the default.
>I would call this logical formatting.
> The second type I would call physical formatting.

The snipped analysis was quite good, although a few points might be argued.

One of the best points is that we can require a certain competence from a
Unicode renderer. The implementor can decide which character ranges to
support, but having done that must support certain features in the way
specified in the standard. This mechanism can be extended to cover some of
the requirements of various text file usages.

Edward Cherlin       Help outlaw Spam     Everything should be made
Vice President      as simple as possible,
NewbieNet, Inc.  1000 members and counting      __but no simpler__.    17 May 97   Attributed to Albert Einstein

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