Re: Comments on <draft-ietf-acap-mlsf-00.txt>?

From: David Goldsmith (
Date: Wed Jun 04 1997 - 22:45:17 EDT

Chris Newman ( wrote:

>Take an "alternate names" attribute in a personal addressbook, which may
>be multivalued. Each of these multiple names may also be represented in
>different langauges. Fonts, styles, and other viewer based attributes are
>completely unnecessary as they don't have anything to do with the name.
>But the language of the name representation is necessary to select the
>appropriate variant string.

Is there no provision for "lists" in the protocol as it's defined now? It
seems to me that when you have a list of alternate values like this, it's
better to represent it as such. Other protocols I have seen use LISP-like
notations to impose structuring conventions on plain text streams. This
has the benefit of supporting many different kinds of attributes besides
language, and is much easier to parse than something like HTML. You could
do something (loosely) like:

( alternate-names
(en-us "name1")
(ja-jp "name2")

Can you think of no other attribute you might want to tag a value with
than language? If one comes up, you'll have to introduce another
mechanism anyway. And I suspect there are other multi-valued attributes
than just "alternate names".

>There are *a lot* of attribute-value based protocols including SNMP, LDAP,
>DHCP, ACAP, RFC 822/MIME/HTTP, etc. In fact, the attribute-value model is
>a basic tool in protocol design.

I thought LDAP used something like the notation I was tossing around
above. Maybe I'm thinking of something else...

>There are blind people in the world and there are multi-lingual people in
>the world who need spelling assistance. I can't ignore the fact that
>UTF-8/Unicode is inadequate for their needs, nor am I willing to say such
>people must always use complex formats like HTML and deal with all the
>associated problems they create. But if their needs can be addressed with
>only 1/2 a page of additional code, then that's absolutely the right thing
>to do.

The code for dealing with the language tagging might only be 1/2 a page,
but that doesn't address their needs. You need to figure out how to turn
that into calls to a speech synthesis engine. But maybe you meant that
most applications would only need 1/2 a page to ignore the tags, so that
specialized applications could support blind users?

David Goldsmith
International, Text, and Graphics Department
Apple Computer, Inc.

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