Re: Usage of CP1252 characters on

From: Markus G. Kuhn (
Date: Mon Jul 07 1997 - 21:49:23 EDT

Chris Pratley wrote on 1997-07-08 00:29 UTC:
> Do you (or anyone else), have some suggestions on this issue? I think it
> is a hard problem to solve, and I was trying to get a sense of what
> solutions people were adopting.

In the Unix world, in such situations we make things configurable. I am
not familiar with the various Microsoft products that produce HTML files,
but I would expect quality software to allow me to switch between the
following alternatives when I convert a CP1252 based file into HTML
in some export filter:

  - convert to Unicode NCR
  - convert to Unicode UTF-8
  - transscribe down to ISO 8859-1 (i.e. replace `smartquotes' by quotes)

and if it is really necessary for the existing installation base, then
I might also offer the following together with a warning in big red
blinking letters that it will break non-Windows systems:

  - output directly in CP1252 bytes (not NCR!) and make sure that the
    IANA registry contains a reasonable MIME entry for CP1252 and that
    the HTTP server will announce CP1252 as the encoding

I fully understand that Microsoft is not alone guilty and that
Netscape created the same mess even before. [But making new errors
is always slightly more honorable than repeating old ones ... ;-]

However, as you do, I also hope that Unicode support with at least the CP1252
characters (better even MES or more) will in the next 12 months become
so widely implemented that backwards compatibility of the last option
will not any more be that important and that then the first two options
above become the widely accepted default choices.

BTW: I just got a reply from MSNBC on my letter:

  Thank you for writing. The lack or change of punctuation you describe
  in viewing our site with Netscape is due to the way our web editor sees
  HTML code. Without getting technical, we have had to substitute
  standard HTML code that represents the apostrophes and other punctuation
  marks with a slightly different version of the code. This is definitely
  a bug in our web editor, and we are working hard on a permanent fix.
  Your patience in this matter is appreciated.

  MSNBC Customer Support


Markus G. Kuhn, Computer Science grad student, Purdue
University, Indiana, USA -- email:

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