Re: MES as an ISO standard? (A library perspective)

From: Joan Aliprand (
Date: Wed Jul 02 1997 - 17:53:22 EDT

Markus G. Kuhn ( replied on Tue, 1 Jul 1997 to Adrian


>Yes, full ISO 10646 and Unicode are nice for GUI environments. But
>there are non-GUI environments in wide use that could easily be
>extended to around 1000 characters, that do not care today about
>good typography (proportional fonts, kerning, ligatures, etc.) and
>therefore will also not care about combining characters, bidi,
>and representation forms.
>I am talking about library computers, the software that prepares your
>tax returns and your bank account statements, about programming
>environments and medical data processing systems. None of these
>applications care in any way about high quality typography and most
>of them use user interface layouts depending on monospaced fonts, but
>they could fairly simply be extended to around 1000 characters to
>cover at least all latin/cyrillic/greek and some more scripts.

[remainder deleted]

Markus is dead wrong about library computers.

Academic libraries collect in any language and script. Many public
libraries need to serve populations who use languages written in non-Roman

A character set of "around 1000 characters to cover at least all
latin/cyrillic/greek and some more scripts" would be totally
inadequate for libraries.

Libraries have always used non-spacing marks, so they *do* care about
combining characters. The current precomposed repertoire in ISO 10646
does not include all the Latin letter/diacritic combinations used by

Most current library systems use monospaced fonts, but this does not mean
that they will use them indefinitely.

Geoffrey Waigh responded to this thread:
>Despite popular belief,
>fixed cell applications like terminal emulators can cope with all sorts
>of unusual characters with an appropriate amount of work.

Agreed. RLIN, the Research Libraries Information Network, supports
Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Hebrew, and Cyrillic. Our user
interface software was originally written for DOS, and is a fixed cell
application (using integer-spaced glyphs). Our ideographic repertoire is
about 2/3 the size of Unified Han. We support bidirectional input and
display. We also seat diacritical marks on letters.

Libraries do not need a "small simple 1000 character Unicode subset for
non-GUI systems." Such a subset simply does not meet their repertoire
needs. The non-GUI environment argument is also untrue (at least for some

-- Joan Aliprand
   Research Libraries Group


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